Feeling Like a Failure? Lehi Gets It.

Are you concerned about the state of the world and the people you care about? Do you worry that you are a failure because of problems in your family or circle of friends? Then you can take comfort in the story of Lehi from the Book of Mormon.

Lehi probably never imagined the kind of life he would lead. The beginning of the Book of Mormon finds him living a comfortable life as a wealthy man in Jerusalem. So what was it that turned his life upside down? For Lehi, it was hearing the prophecies of other righteous men in Jerusalem, probably including Jeremiah, Nahum, and others. These words touched Lehi, and he was very concerned for his people. When he prayed on behalf of the people he loved, his own visions from God began. He was led to prophesy as well, and eventually to leave Jerusalem altogether.

Today’s world is much like the Jerusalem of Lehi’s day. Many people have lost sight of what is truly important, and God’s standards and commandments are being mocked. This causes concern for many Christians, who may wonder what then can do to remain safe and help others. First of all, we can follow Lehi’s example by paying attention to the prophets’ words and stepping up to the plate when God calls us to stand strong.

Clearly, Lehi valued the words of the prophets throughout his life. Not only did he listen to living prophets, but he made sure that his family obtained the plates of brass, which contained words of previous prophets. He also quoted prophets in his lessons to his children and even when making promises to his posterity before he died. Lehi truly relied on God’s word. We can and must do the same if we are to have a solid foundation in our lives.

As a father, Lehi did everything he possibly could to lead his children in the right direction. He preached many times to his sons, particularly Laman and Lemuel, and warned them of the consequences of breaking God’s commandments. Nephi described his father as exhorting (or begging) Laman and Lemuel “with all the feeling of a tender parent” (1 Nep 8:37), so he apparently made sure that his words portrayed his deep love. But despite Lehi’s best efforts, Laman and Lemuel ended up falling away.

How must Lehi have felt? Perhaps similar to how we may feel today when a child, sibling, friend, or other loved one strays despite our best efforts to love and help them. Maybe we even make mistakes in our efforts to help. In such cases, it is easy to feel that we have failed. But the story of Lehi’s family just goes to show that even the best intentions and spirit-led work cannot affect a person’s agency.

So what can we do? Quite a bit, really. We can follow the Spirit as we bear our testimonies, defend the prophets, reach out in love, correct when necessary, admit our imperfections, repent, and even “cease speaking” as Lehi did to let others make their own choices. But when we have done all of those things, we have to remember to let the Lord handle the things that we cannot. We can choose to feel satisfied when we have done all we can. We can let our loved ones know that we will care about them no matter how they choose to live their lives.

As the world continues to grow more contentious, remember Lehi. Remember that as you treasure and act on God’s word, love your neighbor, and follow the Spirit, you will be able to fulfil the mission that God has prepared for you. And when you do, you will feel as Lehi, whose “soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled” (1 Nep 1:15).


What Lehi Did What We Can Do
Listened to the prophets (1 Nep 1:4-5, 2 Nep 3) Study and follow the prophets’ teachings
Prophesied despite danger (1 Nep 1:18-20) Speak the truth even when it is unpopular
Left Jerusalem for Promised Land (1 Nep 2:2-3 ) Be willing to sacrifice in order to be obedient
Counseled when appropriate (1 Nep 8:37-38) Teach when the Spirit prompts us
Repented for his murmuring (1 Nep 16:24-25) Repent when we make mistakes or doubt God
Taught and blessed his posterity (2 Nep 1-4) Do everything we can to help our families


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