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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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To be a Latter-day Saint is to be a pioneer, for the definition of a pioneer is “one who goes before to prepare or open up the way for others to follow.” And to be a pioneer is to become acquainted with sacrifice.

Although members of the Church are no longer asked to leave their homes to make the journey to Zion, they often must leave behind old habits, longtime customs, and cherished friends. Some make the agonizing decision to leave behind family members who oppose their Church membership. Latter-day Saints move forward, however, praying that precious ones will yet understand and accept.

The path of a pioneer is not easy, but we follow in the footsteps of the ultimate Pioneer—even the Savior—who went before, showing us the way to follow.

“Come, follow me,” He invited.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He declared.

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Thomas S. Monson

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Only the Master knows the depths of our trials, our pain, and our suffering. He alone offers us eternal peace in times of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls with His comforting words:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Whether it is the best of times or the worst of times, He is with us. He has promised that this will never change.

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Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know.

Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.

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May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary—a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.
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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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This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone.

I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.

I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.
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Mother, who willingly made that personal journey into the valley of the shadow of death to take us by the hand and introduce us to birth—even to mortal life—deserves our undying gratitude. One writer summed up our love for mother when he declared, “God could not be everywhere, and so He gave us mothers.”

While on the cruel cross of Calvary, suffering intense pain and anguish, Jesus “saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!” (John 19:26–27.) What a divine example of gratitude and love!

My own mother may not have read to me from the scriptures; rather, she taught me by her life and actions what the “Good Book” contains. Care for the poor, the sick, the needy were everyday dramas never to be forgotten.
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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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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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  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    President of the Church
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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