While I have to say it was informative and clarifying studying the gospel doctrine manual the last couple of years, I am happy (and somewhat relieved) to be returning to our study of past presidents. I am particularly happy to be studying George Albert Smith http://lds.org/manual/teachings-george-albert-smith?lang=eng.
I love his list of resolutions and am so impressed that unlike most people’s new year’s resolutions, these were lifelong an d he actually adhered to them:
Our religion must find expression in our everyday lives.
From the Life of George Albert Smith
When he was 34 years old, George Albert Smith made a list of resolutions that he called his “personal creed”—11 ideals that he committed to live by:
“I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor.
“I would visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed.
“I would teach the truth to the understanding and blessing of all mankind.
“I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and a happy life.
“I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals but rather love them into doing the thing that is right.
“I would live with the masses and help to solve their problems that their earth life may be happy.
“I would avoid the publicity of high positions and discourage the flattery of thoughtless friends.
“I would not knowingly wound the feelings of any, not even one who may have wronged me, but would seek to do him good and make him my friend.
“I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father.
“I would not be an enemy to any living soul.
“Knowing that the Redeemer of mankind has offered to the world the only plan that will fully develop us and make us really happy here and hereafter, I feel it not only a duty but also a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth.”1 [See suggestion 1 on page 9.]
Those who knew President Smith declared that he truly did live by his creed. Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared an experience in which President Smith was true to his resolution to “visit the sick and afflicted and inspire in them a desire for faith to be healed”:
“I shall never cease to be grateful for the visits he made to my home while I was [away] serving as a humble missionary. … Particularly I am thankful for a visit in the still of the night when our little one lay at death’s door. Without any announcement, President Smith found time to come into that home and place his hands upon the head of that little one, held in her mother’s arms as she had been for many hours, and promise her complete recovery. This was President Smith, he always had time to help, particularly those who were sick, those who needed him most.”2
Spencer W. Kimball noted another instance in which President Smith’s actions demonstrated his conviction to do good to “one who may have wronged [him]”:
“It was reported to [President Smith] that someone had stolen from his buggy the buggy robe. Instead of being angry, he responded: ‘I wish we knew who it was, so that we could give him the blanket also, for he must have been cold; and some food also, for he must have been hungry.’”3
Another observer wrote of George Albert Smith: “His religion is not doctrine in cold storage. It is not theory. It means more to him than a beautiful plan to be admired. It is more than a philosophy of life. To one of his practical turn of mind, religion is the spirit in which a man lives, in which he does things, if it be only to say a kind word or give a cup of cold water. His religion must find expression in deeds. It must carry over into the details of daily life.”4
George Albert Smith was born in 1870 and lived through the two world wars and the depression, but still managed a kindness rarely seen. I am very much looking forward to studying his life this year.