Saturday, February 23, 2019

President George Albert Smith on expressing kindness to others

President George Albert Smith (1870-1951) was the son of John Henry Smith (1848-1911) and grandson of George A. Smith (1817-1875), both of whom served as members of the Twelve. He was called as an apostle in 1903, and then served as the 8th president of the Church from 1945 until his death in 1951.
"I stand here tonight to speak of a man who has several years ago gone home. … I refer to Francis M. Lyman [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] and I want to say to you that that great man was as tender as a baby, just as tender as a little child, and his desire to help and encourage was beautiful. I have heard him compliment his brethren many times when they have done something praiseworthy—one had delivered a fine address, another had borne a convincing testimony, another had done something else praiseworthy. I have seen him put his arm around them and say, 'I am proud of you and the fine thing you have done.' Is not that a commendable way to live? That is the way to make ourselves happy. If, instead of being jealous, we see and appreciate and commend the virtues and abilities of our fellows, if we see the power for good in [others], how much better it will be.
"Many of us live in such an atmosphere that we are almost dumb when it comes to praising somebody else. We seem unable to say the things that we might say … to the blessing of others. Let us look for the virtues of our associates and observing them make them happy by commending them."
- George Albert Smith, "To the Relief Society," Relief Society Magazine, Dec. 1932, 707; See "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith" pp. 226-227

President Smith in this excerpt is encouraging us in a practice that he demonstrates himself by pointing out someone else in whom he recognized the quality. We should say kind things about others, so President Smith said kind things about one of his predecessors. Elder Francis R. Lyman is a fascinating but little-known leader. He was called as an apostle in 1880 at age 40. He became the President of the Twelve in 1903 and served in that role, during the presidency of Joseph F. Smith, until his death in 1916. The tribute given to him by President Smith is a wonderful indication of his character, and a marvelous example for us to emulate.

What a great quality to cultivate in our lives! As we seek to be kind and praising to others, we will find wonderful opportunities to serve and bless some who might need our encouraging words.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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