Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Andrew K. Smth’s “Determinations,” 1912

Andrew K. Smth’s “Determinations,” 1912

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 24, 2014

Andrew Kimball Smith, a son of President Joseph F. Smith and Alice Ann Kimball, was a young missionary in Germany in 1912. His president, Hyrum W. Valentine, selected him as one of the elders from that mission to attend a conference of the Netherlands-Belgium Mission along with elders from Scandinavia. The conference – with its twelve meetings! – kept him “busy digesting good advice and counsel,” he wrote to his mother. “I returned to Leipzig with many new ideas, and also many resolutions.”

Andrew distilled those resolutions into ten “Articles of Determination”:

1. I intend to rise at 7 o’clock in the morning, or before, regardless of the time I retire.

2. I intend to eat regularly and moderately, and never break the Word of Wisdom.

3. It matters not whether I distribute three or seventy-five tracts; I intend to do two hours of conscientious tracting a day, for five days in the week.

4. I do not intend to visit my room between 9:30 a.m. and 9 at night, except upon extraordinary occasions.

5. I intend to be punctual at every meal, invitation, and meeting.

6. I intend to study my bible-class lesson, Sunday school lesson, brothers’ meeting lesson, Priesthood meeting lesson, etc., as faithfully as any other missionary and Saint in the branch.

7. I intend to obey in spirit and letter all instructions and admonitions of those placed in authority over me.

8. I intend to season my work with determination, enthusiasm, conscientiousness, happiness, humility, and prayerfulness.

9. I intend to be prepared at all times with interesting and well prepared subjects to speak upon, but nevertheless be susceptible to the spirit as to which I shall choose.

10. I intend to love god, the missionaries, and the Saints, and honor my father and my mother by honoring myself in private and in public. ‘To thine own self be true, and it will follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’

“These are my ten articles of determination,” he concluded. “There are two great factors which have made my ideals in life, and have strengthened my determination to succeed. They have been my father, who has been my inspiration, and my mother, who has been my guardian angel.”

I don’t know how well Andrew kept his “determinations,” but I suspect that many of them were good ones for him to work toward … the year before, Andrew had dropped out of Brigham Young University due to bad grades and cutting classes.

One evidence of his missionary determination is the level of skill he developed in his mission language. In 1917 Andrew enlisted to serve during the First World War. He was posted practically on his own doorstep, at Fort Douglas on the bench above Salt Lake City, where he worked with the German POWs held there, and censored their outgoing mail.

Here’s to missions that help good young people get back on track!



  1. “I intend to obey in spirit and letter . . .”

    I like this one. I wonder how they taught that in the meetings.

    This was a big deal for me on my mission because some missionaries said that the spirit of the law was the important part. Then they used that as justification for disobedience. They broke rules, but they were doing it out of love. I was told I didn’t understand about the spirit of missionary work because I wanted to be obedient to the letter of the law. “Letter” was said with a sneer.

    I’m going to send this list to my missionary son too.

    Comment by Carol — April 24, 2014 @ 9:27 am

  2. Are you going to send it to him in a *letter*, Carol? /sneer/

    :) Yeah, I’ve felt that attitude aimed at me occasionally, too. I hope I’ve never projected it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 24, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  3. Good, uplifting list. Good work, Andrew K.!

    Comment by David Y. — April 24, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  4. There are times when, after obeying the spirit and the letter of the law, it becomes possible to make adjustments, but you have to follow the letter first. My son served in the Alaska mission, but spent part of his time in the Yukon Territory. After a month or so there he called the mission president and said, “We’re in a different time zone from the rest of the mission. We go to bed at the appointed hour, and fifteen minutes later, we get a phone call from a missionary in the other time zone. This means we are always short on sleep. However, the mission rule is that we should be out in the community working by 10AM, but here that is considered rude. The earliest it is socially acceptable to know on someone’s door is 11AM. So could we shift our schedule one hour later, by the clock, so that we are on the same schedule as the rest of the mission, and in sync with the local customs?” The mission president knew he had been trying very hard to keep all of the rules of the mission, and said, “Sounds good to me.” By the end of his mission, he was forced to make many such adaptations, but by that point the mission president would simply say, “What you are doing is working. Don’t stop.”

    Comment by LauraN — April 24, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  5. Edit–The mission president would say, “Whatever you are doing seems to be working, so keep doing whatever it is. I trust you.”

    Comment by LauraN — April 24, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

  6. Clicking on “like”, Laura.

    Comment by Carol — April 24, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

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