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Thomas S. Monson
Worked at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Attended University of Utah
Lives in Salt Lake City, UT
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Thomas S. Monson

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I have been thinking recently about choices. It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.

When we left our premortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency. Our goal is to obtain celestial glory, and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal.
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Thomas S. Monson

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I remember when I was assigned to give my first talk in church. I was given the liberty to choose my subject.

I’ve always liked birds, so I thought of the Seagull Monument. In preparation, I went to Temple Square and looked at the monument. First I was attracted to all the coins in the water surrounding the monument. I wondered how they would be retrieved and who would retrieve them. I shall not confess any thought of taking them.

Then I looked upward at the seagulls atop that monument. I tried in my boyish mind to imagine what it would be like to be a pioneer watching the first year’s growth of precious grain being devoured by crickets and then seeing those seagulls, with their lofty wings, descending upon the fields and eating the crickets. I loved the account. I sat down with a pencil in hand and wrote out a two-and-one-half-minute talk.

I’ve never forgotten the seagulls. I’ve never forgotten the crickets. I’ve never forgotten my knees knocking together as I gave that talk. I’ve never forgotten the experience of letting some of my innermost feelings be expressed verbally at the pulpit.
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Thomas S. Monson

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I am confident there are within our sphere of influence those who are lonely, those who are ill, and those who feel discouraged. Ours is the opportunity to help them and to lift their spirits. 

The Savior brought hope to the hopeless and strength to the weak. He healed the sick; He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. Throughout His ministry He reached out in charity to any in need. 

As we emulate His example, we will bless lives, including our own.
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Thomas S. Monson

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How grateful we should be that a wise Creator fashioned an earth and placed us here, with a veil of forgetfulness of our previous existence, so that we might experience a time of testing, an opportunity to prove ourselves, and qualify for all that God has prepared for us to receive.

Clearly, one primary purpose of our existence upon the earth is to obtain a body of flesh and bones. In a thousand ways, we are privileged to choose for ourselves. Here we learn from the hard taskmaster of experience. We discern between good and evil. We differentiate as to the bitter and the sweet. We discover that decisions determine destiny.
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Thomas S. Monson

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From time to time the question has been posed, “If Jesus appeared to you today, what questions would you ask of Him?”

My answer has always been, “I would not utter a word. I would listen to Him.”

Down through the generations of time, the message from Jesus has been the same. To Peter by the shores of beautiful Galilee, He said, “Follow me.” To Philip of old came the call, “Follow me.” To Levi who sat at receipt of customs came the instruction, “Follow me.” And to you and to me, if we but listen, shall come that same beckoning invitation, “Follow me.”
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I have learned that when we heed a silent prompting and act upon it without delay, our Heavenly Father will guide our footsteps and bless our lives and the lives of others.

I know of no experience more sweet or feeling more precious than to heed a prompting only to discover that the Lord has answered another person’s prayer through you.
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Sometimes, my dear sisters, you feel inadequate and ineffective because you can't do all that you feel you should. Rather than continually dwelling on what still needs to be done, pause occasionally and reflect on all that you do and have done. It is most significant.

The good you have done, the kind words you have spoken, the love you have shown to others, can never be fully measured.
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You may at times have cried out in your suffering, wondering why our Heavenly Father would allow you to go through whatever trials you are facing.

On one occasion, a father accompanied his small daughter to nursery school and watched through a one-way glass window as she and her friends played with the toys which were provided. More than once this father was ready to enter the room, eager to save his daughter from the dangers of choice and discovery.

His desire to protect her, however, was tempered by the instinct of a loving father, who knows that scraped knees, tears, and bruised feelings are often necessary parts of growth and development.
We all have treasured memories of certain days in our lives—days when all seemed to go well for us, when much was accomplished or when relationships were pleasant and loving. It's not difficult to be happy on such perfect days. We wish all days could be so memorable for their perfection.

Our mortal life, however, was never meant to be easy or consistently pleasant. Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become refined through hard challenges, heartbreaking sorrows, and difficult choices. Each one of us experiences dark days when loved ones pass away, painful times when our health is lost, feelings of being forsaken when those we love seem to have abandoned us. These and other trials present us with the real test of our ability to endure.
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A short while ago I heard the testimony of a woman who, with her husband, strayed from the path of safety, breaking commandments and, in the process, nearly destroying their family. 

When each of them could finally see through the thick haze of addiction and recognize how unhappy their lives had become, as well as how much they were hurting their loved ones, they began to change. The repentance process felt slow and was, at times, painful, but with the help of priesthood leaders, along with help from family and loyal friends, they made their way back.

I share with you a portion of this sister’s testimony of the healing power of repentance: “How does someone go from being one of the lost sheep and gripped by [sin], to this peace and happiness we now feel? How does that happen? The answer … is because of a perfect gospel, a perfect Son and His sacrifice for me. … Where there was darkness, there is now light. Where there was despair and pain, there is joy and hope. We have been infinitely blessed by the change that can only come through repentance made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Despite the fact that the path is difficult, the promise is real.
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One ever remembers that Christmas day when giving replaced getting. In my life, this took place in my tenth year. As Christmas approached, I yearned as only a boy can yearn for an electric train. My desire was not to receive the economical and everywhere-to-be-found windup model train; rather, I wanted one that operated through the miracle of electricity. The times were those of economic depression; yet Mother and Dad, through some sacrifice I am sure, presented to me on Christmas morning a beautiful electric train.

For hours I operated the transformer, watching the engine first pull its cars forward, then push them backward around the track. Mother entered the living room and said to me that she had purchased a windup train for Mrs. Hansen’s son, Mark, who lived down the lane. I asked if I could see the train. The engine was short and blocky, not long and sleek like the expensive model I had received. However, I did take notice of an oil tanker car that was part of his inexpensive set. My train had no such car, and pangs of envy began to be felt. I put up such a fuss that Mother succumbed to my pleadings and handed me the oil tanker car. She said, “If you need it more than Mark, you take it.” I put it with my train set and felt pleased with the result.

Mother and I took the remaining cars and the engine down to Mark Hansen. The young boy was a year or two older than I. He had never anticipated such a gift and was thrilled beyond words. He wound the key in his engine, it not being electric like mine, and was overjoyed as the engine and two cars, plus a caboose, went around the track.

Then Mother wisely asked, “What do you think of Mark’s train, Tommy?”

I felt a keen sense of guilt and became very much aware of my selfishness. I said to Mother, “Wait just a moment. I’ll be right back.”

As swiftly as my legs could carry me, I ran home, picked up the oil tanker car plus an additional car from my train set, and ran back down the lane to the Hansen home, joyfully saying to Mark, “We forgot to bring two cars that belong to your train.” Mark coupled the two extra cars to his set. 

I watched the engine make its labored way around the track and felt supreme joy, difficult to describe and impossible to forget. The spirit of Christmas had filled my very soul.
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My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?

Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God’s love.
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Recently, as I have been reading and pondering the scriptures, two passages in particular have stayed with me. Both are familiar to us. 

The first is from the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 

The second scripture is one which came to my mind as I pondered the meaning of the first. It is from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

I believe the second scripture explains, in great part, how we can accomplish the first. We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.
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  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Introduction

President Thomas S. Monson has served as the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008. He had served as a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church since November 10, 1985. Most recently, on March 12, 1995, he was set apart as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley. Prior to that, on June 5, 1994, he was called as Second Counselor to President Howard W. Hunter, and on November 10, 1985, as Second Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson. He was sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 4, 1963, and ordained an Apostle on October 10, 1963, at the age of 36.

President Monson served as president of the Church’s Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959 to 1962. Prior to that time he served in the presidency of the Temple View Stake in Salt Lake City, Utah, and as a bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in that stake.

Born in Salt Lake City, on August 21, 1927, President Monson is a son of G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson. He attended Salt Lake City public schools and graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in 1948, receiving a degree in business management. He did graduate work and served as a member of the College of Business faculty at the University of Utah. He later received his MBA degree from Brigham Young University. In April 1981, Brigham Young University conferred upon President Monson the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. He was given the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters by Salt Lake Community College in June 1996. He received the Honorary Doctor of Business from the University of Utah in May 2007. In May 2009 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Communication from Utah Valley University and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Southern Utah University. In April 2010 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Weber State University. In May 2011 he received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Dixie State College of Utah. He is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, an honorary business fraternity.

President Monson served in the United States Navy near the close of World War II. He married Frances Beverly Johnson on October 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of three children, with eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Professionally, President Monson has had a distinguished career in publishing and printing. He became associated with the Deseret News in 1948, where he served as an executive in the advertising division of that newspaper and the Newspaper Agency Corporation. Later he was named sales manager of the Deseret News Press, one of the West’s largest commercial printing firms, rising to the position of general manager, which position he held at the time of his appointment to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1963. He served for many years as chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co. President Monson is a past president of Printing Industry of Utah and a former member of the board of directors of Printing Industries of America.

With his broad business background, President Monson served for many years as a board member of several prominent businesses and industries. He currently serves as chairman of the LDS Church Board of Education and Board of Trustees.

Since 1969 President Monson has served as a member of the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America.

President Monson has held membership in the Utah Association of Sales Executives, the Salt Lake Advertising Club, and the Salt Lake Exchange Club.

For many years, President Monson served as a member of the Utah State Board of Regents, the body which governs higher education in the State of Utah. He also served as an officer in the Alumni Association of the University of Utah.

In December 1981, President Monson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the President’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. He served in this capacity until December 1982, when the work of the task force was completed.

President Monson was awarded the University of Utah’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1966. He is also the recipient of the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award (1971), its prestigious Silver Buffalo Award (1978), the Bronze Wolf (1993; international Scouting’s highest award), and the Silver Fox Award from Scouts Canada (2011). In 1997 he received the Minuteman Award from the Utah National Guard, as well as Brigham Young University’s Exemplary Manhood Award. In 1998 he and Sister Monson were each given the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award by the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph Villa. In 2000 he received the Joseph and Hyrum Smith Award as "Communicator of the Year" from the LDS Public Relations Society. In 2005 he was presented with the Legacy of Life Award by the Heart and Lung Research Foundation, which is an entity of the Deseret Foundation. In 2007 he received Rotary's Worldwide Humanitarian Award. He has received awards from four chapters of the BYU Management Society.

Education
  • University of Utah
    1948
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Gender
Male
Birthday
August 21