“Introduction,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith (2010)
“Introduction,” Teachings: George Albert Smith
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have established the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series to help you deepen your understanding of the restored gospel and draw closer to the Lord through the teachings of latter-day prophets. As the Church adds volumes to this series, you will build a collection of gospel reference books for your home. The volumes in this series are designed to be used for personal study and for Sunday instruction. They can also help you prepare other lessons or talks and answer questions about Church doctrine.
This book features the teachings of President George Albert Smith, who served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from May 21, 1945, to April 4, 1951.
As you study the teachings of President George Albert Smith, prayerfully seek the inspiration of the Spirit. The questions at the end of each chapter will help you understand President Smith’s teachings and apply them in your life. As you study these teachings, you may want to think about how you could teach them to family members and friends. This will strengthen your understanding of what you read.
You can use this book to teach at home or at church. The following guidelines can help you.
Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as you prepare to teach. Prayerfully study the chapter to become confident in your understanding of President Smith’s teachings. You will teach with greater sincerity and power when his words have influenced you personally (see D&C 11:21).
If you are teaching a Melchizedek Priesthood or Relief Society lesson, you should not set this book aside or prepare lessons from other materials. Prayerfully select from the chapter those teachings that you feel will be most helpful to those you teach. Some chapters contain more material than you will be able to discuss during class time. Allow good discussions to continue rather than trying to cover all the teachings.
Encourage participants to study the chapter before the lesson and to bring the book with them. When they do so, they will be better prepared to participate in a discussion and edify one another.
As you introduce the chapter, and throughout the lesson, try to create an atmosphere where the Spirit can touch the hearts and minds of those you teach. To start the lesson, help those you teach focus on the teachings of the chapter. To do this, you could:
Read and discuss the section titled “From the Life of George Albert Smith” at the beginning of the chapter.
Discuss a picture or scripture from the chapter.
Sing a related hymn.
Briefly share a personal experience about the topic.
As you teach from this book, invite others to share their thoughts, ask questions, and teach one another. They will learn best when they actively participate. This is also a good way to help them receive personal revelation. To encourage discussion, use the questions at the end of the chapter. These questions are referenced at various places in the chapter to show which section of teachings they refer to. You could also develop your own questions especially for those you are teaching. For example, you could ask participants how they can apply President Smith’s teachings in their responsibilities as parents or as home teachers or visiting teachers.
The following options may give you additional ideas:
Ask participants to share what they have learned from their personal study of the chapter. It may be helpful to contact a few participants during the week and ask them to come prepared to share what they have learned.
Assign participants to read selected questions from the end of the chapter (either individually or in small groups). Ask them to look for teachings in the chapter that relate to the questions. Then invite them to share their thoughts and insights with the rest of the group.
Read together a selection of President Smith’s statements from the chapter. Ask participants to share examples from the scriptures and from their own experience that illustrate what President Smith taught.
Ask participants to choose a section they are interested in and read it silently. Invite them to gather in groups of two or three people who chose the same section and discuss what they learned.
Briefly summarize the lesson or ask one or two participants to do so. Encourage those you teach to share with others what they have learned from President Smith’s teachings. Testify of the teachings you have discussed. You may also want to invite others to share their testimonies.
The teachings of President Smith in this book are direct quotations from a variety of sources. These excerpts have retained the punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and paragraphing of the original sources unless editorial or typographic changes have been necessary to improve readability. For this reason, you may notice minor inconsistencies in the text. For example, the word gospel is lowercased in some quotations and capitalized in others.
Also, President Smith often used terms such as men, man, or mankind to refer to all people, both male and female. He frequently used the pronouns he, his, and him to refer to both genders. This was common in the language of his era. Despite the differences between these language conventions and more current usage, President Smith’s teachings apply to both women and men.