With President-elect Donald Trump considering Mitt Romney for secretary of state, I began thinking of all of the Latter-day Saints who currently hold important political positions in the United States, not to mention those in the past who have played an influential role in government.
Among them is President Ezra Taft Benson who served as secretary of agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower even while he served as an apostle. Bloomberg and The Washington Post have both noted qualities in Mormons that make for great leaders—political, business, or otherwise—while other sites have noted why Latter-day Saints make great Homeland Security, FBI, and CIA agents.
So here are just a few reasons a Mormon would make a great secretary of state—or any cabinet member for that matter.
Latter-day Saints Have a Strong Belief in Service
From blessing and passing the sacrament to visiting Church members, from shoveling snow to making meals, Latter-day Saints are taught from a young age to serve in their Church and to serve their community. In addition, the Church encourages every member to become an active participant in politics and to support their respective country and governmental leaders. This breeds a sense of duty, honor, respect, and patriotism that goes a long way when it comes to serving our countries and our Church.
Latter-day Saints Are Exposed to a Diversity of Languages and Cultures
Whether it's hearing from Church leaders from all over the world at conference time or hearing about mission experiences from family and friends, Latter-day Saints become exposed to new languages and new ways of living at an early age. For many Mormons, that sensitivity to diversity increases as they spend a year and a half to two years immersed in an entirely new culture and often learning a new language. As Bloomberg notes, those language skills alone can create a unique advantage when it comes to working internationally, but the general empathy and understanding of diverse cultures these experiences create are something indispensable when it comes to foreign policy.
Latter-day Saints Know How to Handle Rejection and Opposition
Day in and day out, missionaries experience doors slammed in their faces. Church members log online to find their personal beliefs attacked on social media. Primary children and young adults experience teasing or peer pressure at school because of their peculiar lifestyle. No doubt, Mormons have many opportunities to stand up for their beliefs, and along with those opportunities comes ways we can learn to bridge gaps, explain differences, and hopefully strive to create understanding, both for us and for those who we see as different. This type of "toughening up," as The Washington Post calls it, can help Latter-day Saints approach tense situations diplomatically, not with blind prejudice and emotion.
Latter-day Saints Make Strong Leaders
The Washington Post recently noticed that if Harvard Business School were a religion, it would be Mormonism. While this seems like tall praise, as you dig into the article you realize many of the values Harvard Business School teaches are those inherent in the LDS faith. For instances, the LDS Church is founded on asking questions—especially the right kind of questions that are productive and yield results. Joseph Smith is a perfect example of this fact. In addition, Mormons take the time to listen and learn from everyone, something that's shown in the youth speakers we have every sacrament meeting or the ordinary men and women we have serving in leadership roles. This experience with leading as well as these qualities help develop strong leaders who value input from others and who keep important goals in mind.
Latter-day Saints Know How to Work and Have Strong Values
"I have no doubt that the rigorous mission experience and ingrained hard-work ethic in the Mormon Church has a profound impact on the people who choose to go into business or political leadership careers," Jena McGregor states on The Washington Post. In the LDS Church, everyone is expected to carry their weight and pitch in, even the youth. Service, missions, projects, lessons, talks, Young Women in Excellence, Scouts, and home teaching are just a few ways Mormons go beyond what's expected to learn strong values and hard work.
Latter-day Saints Believe in Sustaining the Law
In addition to avoiding alcohol and drugs, Latter-day Saints "believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law" (Article of Faith 12). As Atlas Obscura notes, "Mormon people often have strong foreign language skills, from missions overseas; a relatively easy time getting security clearances, given their abstention from drugs and alcohol; and a willingness to serve." No matter what our position or title, Mormons stress the need for obedience and teach about the need for humility, especially in leadership. This combination tends to lead to a strong sense of moral values that could help steer leaders away from scandal, deceit, and other temptations that tend to come with power.
I'm not saying that all Mormons are perfect or that all would make good leaders, but there is no doubt that the values Latter-day Saints are taught from a young age are incredibly important for our communities and for our leaders.