As members of the Church, we have had the blessing of having great men of God lead the Church as prophets and as examples for us to follow. Today, we have a prophet that strives to help us catch the vision of building the Kingdom with the urgency to do so. President Hinckley shares the message of Paul when he declared, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
As important as it is to follow the counsel and direction from our living prophet, let us not forget the great men who have served in the past. Did not King Benjamin declare, “O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30). The scriptures that we love are the teachings and stories of those prophets from centuries past. Someday, when the story of our time is written, our modern prophets will find their place along side those who lived anciently. I have been recently reminded of one such great prophet of our day and the living testimony of his life. And though he died before I was born, I have grown to love this great humble man. His name---George Albert Smith, the eighth President of the Church. Francis Gibbons, in his biography of President Smith, subtitled the book, “Kind and Caring Christian, Prophet of God.” His life, though difficult, was truly an example for us to follow in service and love.
George was age thirteen when the aged patriarch, Zebedee Coltrin, pronounced in a patriarchal blessing that he would become a mighty apostle and great leader of the Church. By gaining this glimpse into who he really was, it motivated him to make an effort to live a life in emulation of the Lord and to encourage others to do the same. Brother Gibbons wrote, “The keystone of his behavior and teachings was love—love of God, which he demonstrated by keeping the commandments, and love of his fellow beings, which he demonstrated by repeated acts of kindness and caring concern” (George Albert Smith, p. ix-x).
President Smith had many times of difficulty in his life due to illness. During one point of his life he had months of convalescence that allowed him time for deep introspection. As a result of this effort at finding purpose and direction for his life, he wrote his “Creed.” This creed was a self-written guideline to measure his conduct, and the reason for the conduct, by which he wanted to guide his life. I personally have his creed posted above my desk at home to remind me of proper Christ like conduct. Below is the creed he wrote:
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 mankind.
I would seek out the erring one and try to win him back to a righteous and 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 position 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 good and make him my friend.
I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the success of all the children of our 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 a blessed privilege to disseminate this truth (Improvement Era, March 1932, p. 295; George Albert Smith, p. 134-135).
President Smith applied the words of his creed to his everyday life. He was no respecter of persons, “and to him, a good deed was like a seed that would grow into a happy memory for both him and the one he had served” (GAS, p. 135). “The young son of a Mormon bishop once received an inscribed book from Elder Smith after the apostle’s visit to his home . . . A stake president in Arizona once received a letter of appreciation from Elder Smith . . . he had never before received a letter of appreciation from a General Authority . . . If we were to try to explain George Albert Smith’s charity in biblical terms, we could do no better than to quote the Apostle Peter’s appraisal of the Savior, who, he said, was one ‘who went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38)” (GAS, p. 136).
It is hoped that we can remember the lives, teachings, and examples of the great men who have led the Church in the last days. May we follow the example of our Savior and his chosen prophets and have it be said of us that we were one “who went about doing good.”