I sped read the 1st three chapters of the Book of Mormon this morning, and some things jumped out.
The Book of Mormon, at least this part, very much follows Old Testament themes of God speaking to a willing individual with a message of repentance for society at large. God has a message, people aren’t listening in general, and he finds someone who will to deliver a message of repentance and warning of the consequences if they don’t. There’s nothing special about Lehi, other than he’ll listen and obey. The importance of obedience to God is paramount. Nephi hears what he says and is obedient to both God and his father’s promptings.
Ultimately God has a big message to deliver through Lehi, and it has nothing to do with starting and running an institution. It’s wholly about the relationship of Lehi and those around him with God. Lehi is not empowered to administer anything or to tell people what to do at the micro level. God has already done that. It’s not as much about “follow the prophet” as it is about following what God has already said. If anyone is empowered to be a ruler, it’s Nephi, who is empowered to be a ruler over his brothers because he’s faithful in keeping the commandments.