Online Curriculum Design Leader
Jim Croasmun earned a bachelor’s degree in physics teaching. He received additional degrees in instructional design and education.
Before coming to work at BYU-Idaho in 2000, Jim taught school in Utah and then worked at a publishing and training company in Arizona. He has been assisting in the creation of BYU-I online courses for the past 12 years.
Jim served in the Massachusetts Boston Mission where he worked with the Cambodian population.
He and his wife, Annette, have been married for 25 years and are the parents of four sons.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
Share a story of how you have shown kindness to someone or how someone has shown kindess to you or your family.
It’s good to be with you. I hope that the Holy Ghost will teach you about charity and kindness today as we look at a few stories together.
Here’s a problem: How do you get 100 freight train cars to move? That’s about 10,000 tons, and you may only have 2 locomotive engines. The answer lies in how the cars are connected to each other. They have coupling mechanisms that allow for some slack between each car on the train.
When the engineers start the locomotives moving forward, the first car begins to move. The first car’s momentum and the locomotive’s continual pull help get the second car moving, and then the third car moving, and so forth. It is like the train is a giant stretchable spring. The slack between the cars is gradually but quickly taken up, and the train starts moving, one car at a time.
Now, the scriptures give us lists of attributes needed to serve in the kingdom, like faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence. They are all worthy and good, but it may seem overwhelming to try and develop all of these attributes at once.
So, in this long train made of attributes, let’s make the car called charity the first car. If we can get that one moving, if we can obtain this gift, the other attribute cars will become easier to move.
Moroni tells us about charity, the greatest of all:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ. 
Earlier in verse 45 we are told some characteristics of charity. One of the things we know about someone who has charity is that they are kind.
Charity is kind. When we ask for charity from our Father in Heaven, we may become more aware of situations where we need to show kindness. We can choose to do our best to be kind and know that the Lord’s grace will help us to be so. It is a gift from Him, and it helps change our very nature.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught that kind people (who have the gift of charity) are sympathetic and gentle with others. They are especially considerate of others’ feelings and courteous in their behavior and have a helpful nature. Kindness helps them pardon others’ faults and weaknesses. 
On this week’s discussion board, I asked if people would share experiences of kindness. Laura’s story is a great example of someone being sympathetic, considerate, and helpful. Laura wrote, “I have a young adult son who has a disability. Chad loves to attend our neighborhood gym twice a week. The owner has taken a special interest in Chad. He personally trains him free of charge. The staff loves to get Chad’s movie requests each week and they have them ready for him to watch in the theater while he does his cardio. But the owner has gone above and beyond—he has given my son his cell phone number so they can text each other during the week. Believe me—my son sends a lot of messages. This Christlike man is a true and loving friend to my son.”
As I’ve read about Joseph Smith, he is frequently referred to as a very kind person, a very loving person, a person with charity. Mary Frost Adams shared the following story about him:
When Joseph was serving as mayor of Nauvoo, a man was brought to him and accused of selling liquor on Sunday. The man explained that he had a dear child who was being held as a slave in a Southern state and he was trying to get enough money to buy the child’s freedom. He pled with the prophet not to punish him.
“I’m sorry, Anthony,” Joseph said to the man, “but the law must be observed, and we will have to impose a fine.” The next day, the Prophet gave the man one of his fine horses telling him to sell it and use the money to purchase the freedom of the child. 
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, himself a supremely kind person, shared this story:
Elder James E. Talmage, a man who is remembered for his doctrinal teachings, showed great kindness to a neighbor family in distress. They were complete strangers to him. Before he was an Apostle, as a young father, he became aware of great suffering at a neighbor’s home whose large family was stricken with the dreaded diphtheria. He did not care that they were not members of the Church; his kindness and charity moved him to act. The Relief Society was desperately trying to find people to help, but no one would because of the contagious nature of the disease.
When he arrived, James found one toddler already dead and two others who were in agony from the disease. He immediately went to work, cleaning the untidy house, preparing the young body for burial, cleaning and providing for the other sick children, spending the entire day doing so. He came back the next morning to find that one more of the children had died during the night. A third child was still suffering terribly. He wrote in his journal: “She clung to my neck, ofttimes coughing on my face and clothing, . . . yet I could not put her from me. During the half hour immediately preceding her death, I walked the floor with the little creature in my arms. She died in agony at 10 A.M.” The three children had all departed within the space of 24 hours. He then assisted the family with the burial arrangements and spoke at their graveside services. This he did all for a family of strangers. What a great example of Christlike kindness! 
What about being kind when others are mean or we don’t feel they deserve kindness? That’s where the test gets hard, doesn’t it? The answer is, of course, that we try to show charity for all. Lucy Mack Smith shared the following story about her son:
A large group of men approached stating they had come to “kill Joe Smith and all the Mormons.” Joseph smiled, and shook their hands. He sat down with them and explained to them many of the difficulties the Saints had suffered and their claim against the injustices that had been heaped upon them. After talking to them for some time he turned and said, “I believe I will go home now—Emma will be expecting me.” At this, two of the officers who had come to kill him suggested that he should not go home alone and insisted that they would provide an escort to ensure his safety As they left, Joseph’s mother heard one say, “Did you not feel strangely when Smith took you by the hand?” Another said, “I could not move. I would not harm a hair of that man’s head for the whole world.” 
Showing charity and kindness can sometimes be shocking to people when it is the last thing they would expect in confrontational situations! Charity and kindness can turn away wrath.
Another story about Joseph’s kind nature: The backstory is that Joseph was to be executed in Missouri, but a General Doniphan stepped in to stop the injustice. Joseph and his associates were then delivered to a General Moses Wilson with instructions to take them to Jackson County for execution. President George Albert Smith heard General Wilson talking about that experience some years later. He was telling some gentlemen about having Joseph Smith, a prisoner in chains, in his custody. General Wilson said, “He was a very remarkable man. I carried him into my house, a prisoner in chains and in less than two hours my wife loved him better than she did me.” 
So, what if someone is intentionally rude? Be kind to them. Even if they are still rude.
If they are obnoxious? Be kind to them. Even if they are still obnoxious. What if someone has decided to not follow Christ’s teachings? Be kind to them. Even if they choose to stay wayward.
Why? Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” 
Your small, kind, charitable actions may make the difference.
My wife has a favorite saying from President Hinckley: “Try a little harder to be a little better!”  Will you join with me this week in trying harder to be kind to someone who you normally wouldn’t? It is a choice we can make and carry out. We can choose to act instead of react to people’s behaviors.
Elder Wayne S. Peterson shared this story in general conference about the importance of kindness and choosing to act:
Many years ago, while on vacation with my family, I had an experience that taught me a great lesson. On a Saturday, my wife and I decided to take the children for a drive and to do some shopping. During the drive the children fell asleep, and not wanting to wake them, I volunteered to stay in the car while my wife ran into the store. While waiting, I glanced at the car parked in front of me. It was full of children, and they were looking at me. My eyes caught the eyes of a small boy, six or seven years old. As our eyes met, he immediately stuck his tongue out at me. My first reaction was to stick my tongue out at him. I thought, What have I done to deserve this? Fortunately, before I reacted, I remembered a principle taught in general conference the week before by Elder Marvin J. Ashton. He taught how important it was to act instead of react to the events around us. So I waved at the little boy. He stuck his tongue out at me again. I smiled and waved again. This time he waved back. Soon he was joined in his enthusiastic waving by a little brother and sister. I responded by waving this way and that until my arm became tired. Then I rested it on the steering wheel and continued with every creative wave I could muster, all the time hoping their parents would quickly return or that my wife would soon come back. The parents finally did come, and as they pulled away, my newfound friends continued to wave for as long as I could see them. That was a simple experience, but it demonstrated that in most encounters we can determine the kind of experience we are going to have by how we respond. I was grateful that I chose to act in a friendly way rather than react to my young friend's childish behavior. In doing so I avoided the negative feelings I would have felt had I followed my natural instinct. 
Even in situations where there is conflict, we can still be kind and feel kind—for example, in giving feedback to others.
I had a professor down at BYU who showed me one way to give feedback. I had a few classes from him as I was learning to be teacher. As he observed my mini-lessons and during my student teaching, he always shared what he observed. He never said this was effective or that was ineffective, but his observations let me reflect on what my objectives were and if I met those. One time, I was trying to use a video clip as a teaching aid following a teaching strategy he had demonstrated the previous semester. He shared what he saw me doing, related some of the questions I had asked the students and when I asked them. He gave his observations of the students’ responses, and asked if I thought I had met my objective with the activity. When I stated that, no, I didn’t think I used this strategy correctly, he agreed and gave some helpful tips. What he didn’t do was try and read my mind or place a value on me as a person. I didn’t hear, “You’re not a good teacher” or “You really messed up.” Similarly, he never said, “You’re a good teacher.” Though his questions led me to what he was trying to teach me, he ultimately let me decide if I was being effective.
Perhaps instead of a teacher evaluation reading something like, “This instructor was the worst and should not be teaching,” a more kind and helpful response might read like, “The teacher would frequently interrupt students’ questions and try and answer them before the student could finish asking. I often felt frustrated by this.” Addressing specific behaviors and your feelings is a one good way to give helpful, kind feedback.
You probably have forgotten and will continue to forget many of your simple acts of charity and kindness. But those who receive your acts of kindness won’t forget it. That is one great way to build the Kingdom—through kindness. If you are criticizing others, you are weakening the kingdom. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:
Whether in the work place, around the fireplace, or in community service—we can all do something else which is simple but powerful. Isaiah spoke of providing the “garment of praise” (Isaiah 61:3). Of course, there are times in rendering humanitarian service when we need to give an actual, physical cloak, but, most often, those with whom most of us work need material clothing less than the “garment of praise.” 
I appreciated K. Richard Young’s BYU devotional from a few years ago where he talked about kindness. Our Heavenly Father is constant. He doesn’t respond to our needs according to his mood. I can go to our Heavenly Father in prayer, trusting that He loves me and that He truly understands my needs better than I do.
If we desire to guide our children, bless the life of a spouse, or be worthy of a friend’s confidence, we need to display more constant kindness. Then others may have trust in us, similar to the trust and faith we have in our Heavenly Father. 
Charity is kind. Our Savior is kind. Our Heavenly Father is kind. That is true and constant. That is true and constant.
I conclude with a story from Dr. William Weaver who was the Chairman of Surgery at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta for 13 years. He shared this story about his father, Ted Weaver, who worked as a janitor and chauffeur in Nashville, Tennessee, when William was growing up:
When I was in high school, I was taking algebra, and I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to do my homework. And I got frustrated, said, “I just can’t figure this out, I’m just . . .” so my father said, “What’s the problem?” And I said, “It’s just algebra.” And he said, “Well, let me look at it.” And I said, “Dad, they didn’t even have algebra in your day.” And I went to sleep, and around 4 o’clock that morning he woke me up and he said, “C’mon, son, get up.” He sat me at the kitchen table, and he taught me algebra. What he had done is sit up all night and read the algebra book, and then he explained the problems to me, so I could do them, and understand them. To this day, I live my life trying to be half the man my father was, just half the man. And I would be a success if my children loved me half as much as I loved my father." 
That is just a taste of how kind and good the Lord is! His kindness and love are constant. Sister Linda Ward’s story from last devotional about how the Lord answered her child’s prayer to help them unlock her car door (when the keys were inside) is another testimony to the Lord’s kindness and His willingness to bless us if we ask.
In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. . . . For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. 
Let’s seek this gift of charity, that we all may be more kind!
 Moroni 7:46–48.
 See Ezra Taft Benson, “Godly Characteristics of the Master,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 47.
 Mary Frost Adams, “Joseph Smith the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal, vol. 17, no. 12 (Dec. 1906), 538.
 Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Ensign, May 2005.
 Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 255-256.
 George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1875), 17:92–93.
 Jude 1:22.
 Wayne S. Peterson, “Our Actions Determine Our Character,” Ensign, Nov. 2001.
 In fireside given on June 21, 1996, in The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, ed. Cory H. Maxwell (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 258.
 K. Richard Young, “Kindness: A Celestial Touchstone,” BYU devotional, Nov. 1, 2005.
 “The Measure of a Man and a Father,” Apr. 13, 2007; npr.org/2007/04/13/9546699/the-measure-of-a-man-and-a-father.
 3 Nephi 22:8, 10.