Talents seen as gifts from the Lord

Brigham Young - who was gifted in the ways of leadership, organizing, decision making, and money making - saw his talents not as something he possessed, but as gifts from the Lord, said Ron Esplin at a Church Educational System symposium Feb. 21.

"The qualities of Brigham Young's leadership depended much more on spiritual capabilities, and his humility and his closeness to his Father in Heaven, than it did on practical leadership skills."Brother Esplin, a faculty member of the Smith Institute for Church History at BYU, spoke of Brigham Young's transition "from seeker to disciple."

"What I would like to do today is take you on a journey back to when Brigham Young was not the top man in Utah," he said. "His people understood some of what I want to share with you today, but often we forget it."

Brigham Young did not speak in the language of the learned, said Brother Esplin. If fact he had never given a public address until after his baptism.

"How did Brigham Young become who he was?" he asked. Brigham Young was born in Vermont, and he made his way with his family into New York and spent much of his boyhood in poverty without education.

"So the Brigham of New York in the 1820s was a very different man," he said. "In his view what changed him was the message of the gospel and the example and friendship and leadership of Joseph Smith."

Brigham Young knew what it meant to go through hard times. "He didn't think men and women were designed by their Creator to suffer and struggle in that way," he said. "So you can appreciate that when he had means and opportunity later, not only for himself, but for others, he wanted people to enjoy fine things: homes, music, theater, anything that can refine and elevate the human spirit."

Brother Esplin said he has never learned of any man who changed in his lifetime as dramatically as Brigham Young.

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