As we wind down our Seminary school year we’ve been studying the lives of the latter day prophets and I’ve really enjoyed reading about them in depth. Sixteen in total, from Joseph Smith to President Monson.
Our ninth church president, David O. McKay, presided over the church for almost 20 years and he was the prophet when I was a child. I still remember what a strikingly handsome man President McKay was with his thick white hair and sweet charisma. President McKay is the first prophet who held a college degree.
But the attribute that sticks out after all my study is the importance President McKay placed on character. To David O. McKay, having character meant everything! Some church historians believe his conviction regarding man’s character was of greater importance to him than quibbling over church doctrine.
Studying our prophets at length has left me with an impression of what wonderful men each of them were (all sixteen latter day prophets) and yet how human they were too. They weren’t perfect, their life journeys were filled with trial and error, making mistakes and doing better the next time. It helps me to remember that each prophet was also a product of their environment and the times that they were raised. Their greatness was acheived by continuous striving to do better and be better.
President McKay was such a champion for developing attributes of a Christlike character and his conviction really resonates with me. I don’t think the importance of character can ever be overstated! (Take that, Arnold Schwarzenegger!) So, even though, I try not to pick favorites, when it comes to former prophets, I heartily endorse President McKay’s assessment that sound character is what constitutes true greatness.
“In other words, the highest purpose of education is not just to teach facts, however important they may be, but to train the mind to make good citizens who develop character. -President David O. McKay