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Revision as of 19:04, 26 April 2009

Thomas S. Monson, Mormon Prophet

Thomas S. Monson was called as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 3, 2008, upon the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley. Monson is the 16th president of the Church. Monson was the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, having served the longest of any current apostle. He had served as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church to President Hinckley.

A Man of Compassion from His Youth

Thomas Spencer Monson was born on 21 August 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second of six children born to G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson. The Monsons were of hardy Northern European ancestry. They were hardworking, humble, loving parents. The family went without many of the luxuries of life, especially during the Great Depression. Yet Thomas Monson was tender-hearted and sensitive to those around him who were even less fortunate. His compassion was manifested one Christmas, when he couldn’t bear watching his friend’s family endure a Christmas dinner of cereal and water. He gave the family his two prize rabbits, saying while holding back tears, “It isn’t turkey, but they will make you a good Christmas dinner.”1

Monson would be sensitive to the plight of the poor for the rest of his life. His renowned compassion, and his responsiveness to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, have made him a special servant to the sick and needy all of his years. When Monson became the bishop of the ward in which he had been raised, he served a congregation of 1,060 members, including 85 widows and the “largest welfare load in the state.”2 Monson continued to be personally involved in the lives of these widows over many years and long after he was released from his calling as bishop, until every one of them had passed away.

A well-meaning person once told President Monson that it was useless for him to visit these elderly people, talking at length with them when they seldom answered a word. “You might as well save your time and breath, Elder Monson. They don’t know who you are.”
“Whether they know me or not is beside the point,” the determined Thomas Monson replied. “I don’t talk to them because they know me; I talk to them because I know them.”3

Thomas Monson received a Patriarchal blessing at the age of 16, which foretold of the service he would be able to render:

“The Holy Ghost has been conferred upon you to be your inspiration and your guide, to direct you in your labors, and to bring to your mind the things that have passed and to show unto you things to come. …
“You shall be indeed a leader among your fellows. … You shall have the privilege of going into the world to proclaim the message of the gospel … and you shall have the spirit of discernment.
“Seek the Lord in humility to guide and direct you, that you might know the proper course to pursue … in the high and holy callings unto which you shall be called."4

Military Service, Education, and Career

Monson joined the U.S. Navy when he was seventeen. The forty-one other recruits who joined on the same day went into the regular Navy—a four-year term of service. But after fervent prayer, Thomas chose the naval reserve, which enlisted him in military service for the duration of the war, plus six months. “Within just a few weeks of his joining, there was an armistice in Europe, and only a few months later came peace in the Pacific. Less than a year after he began his active duty, Ensign Thomas S. Monson returned home.”5 He was able to enroll in classes at the University of Utah, and he graduated with honors and a business degree in 1948, just one quarter behind classmates who had not enlisted in military service.

On October 7, 1948, he married Frances Beverly Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple. They eventually had three children, two sons and a daughter. (They have eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.) Monson continued studying for his graduate degree while teaching at the University of Utah. He later received his MBA from Brigham Young University. He also holds a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brigham Young University. He was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by Salt Lake Community College in June 1996. He is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, an honorary business fraternity. He worked for the advertising division of the Deseret News beginning in 1948. He then became sales manager for the Deseret News Press, then general manager. President Monson is a past president of Printing Industry of Utah and a former member of the board of directors of Printing Industry of America. Monson is known for his business acumen and keen memory. Bill Smart, former editor of the Deseret News, said, “Monson was always well-prepared, thorough and organized. He has a fantastic memory, which served him well—sometimes too well. You had to be careful that what you said was correct. If not, it would come back to bite you.” [1]

Church and Community Service

President Monson was called into service for the Church at a young age—he was called as a bishop at twenty-two, as a counselor in a stake presidency at twenty-seven, a mission president at thirty-one (Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959 to 1962), an apostle at thirty-six (the youngest in fifty-three years), and a counselor in the First Presidency at fifty-eight (the youngest in the 20th century).6 In 1969 Thomas Monson began years of service on the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America (from which he received Scouting’s prestigious Silver Buffalo Award). He has also served on the Utah State Board of Regents, which oversees higher education in Utah. In 1981, Thomas S. Monson was asked by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to serve on the interfaith committee of the President’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. He fulfilled this role on the task force until 1982 when the task force completed its work. Thomas Monson has performed other significant professional and civic duties as well, including service on the boards of KSL, Bonneville International Corporation, Mountain Bell, Commercial Security Bank, and Beneficial Life Insurance Company. “He is a genius at organization,” says Elder Boyd K. Packer. “If I were to choose someone to steer an important matter successfully through all the necessary channels and past all the necessary checkpoints, I would choose Tom Monson.”7

On November 10, 1985, Elder Monson was called to be the Second Counselor in the First Presidency under President Ezra Taft Benson. On June 5, 1994, he was called to serve as Second Counselor under President Howard W. Hunter. Then, on March 12, 1995, he was called to serve as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley. In addition to his responsibilities as an apostle, he also serves as trustee of Brigham Young University and the Church Board of Education.

Living and Serving by the Spirit

The following account demonstrates Thomas Monson's desire to serve the Lord, not only according to protocol, but according to the promptings of the Spirit:

Twenty-three-year-old Tom Monson, the relatively new bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in the Temple View Stake, was uncharacteristically restless as the stake priesthood leadership meeting progressed. He had the distinct impression that he should leave the meeting immediately and drive to the Veterans’ Hospital high up on the Avenues of Salt Lake City. Before leaving home that night he had received a telephone call informing him that an older member of his ward was ill and had been admitted to the hospital for care. Could the bishop, the caller wondered, find a moment to go by the hospital sometime and give a blessing? The busy young leader explained that he was just on his way to a stake meeting but that he certainly would be pleased to go by the hospital as soon as the meeting was concluded.
Now the prompting was stronger than ever: “Leave the meeting and proceed to the hospital at once.” But the stake president himself was speaking at the pulpit! It would be most discourteous to stand in the middle of the presiding officer’s message, make one’s way over an entire row of brethren, and then exit the building altogether. Painfully he waited out the final moments of the stake president’s message, then bolted for the door even before the benediction had been pronounced.
Running the full length of the corridor on the fourth floor of the hospital, the young bishop saw a flurry of activity outside the designated room. A nurse stopped him and said, “Are you Bishop Monson?”
“Yes,” was the anxious reply.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “The patient was calling your name just before he passed away.”
Fighting back the tears, Thomas S. Monson turned and walked back into the night. He vowed then and there that he would never again fail to act upon a prompting from the Lord. He would acknowledge the impressions of the Spirit when they came, and he would follow wherever they led him, ever to be “on the Lord’s errand.”8

President Monson's Outreach to Friends of Other Faiths

President Monson is also known for his outreach to friends of other faiths. Jon Huntsman, Sr., said, “He's as comfortable at the Cathedral of the Madeleine as in the [LDS] Tabernacle. He finds comfort in all faiths, encourages and inspires leaders of all faiths. [During his presidency], we will see a tremendous interaction with leaders of other denominations around the world."

Said Neal A. Maxwell: “Tom moves with equal ability and ease as a leader among members and nonmembers alike. His administrative strength and executive ability are not to be wholly accounted for in his academic training or professional opportunities, distinguished as they are. It is something more fundamental than that—something inherent and innate. He doesn’t need twenty years with an issue to grasp its significance and retain its meaning. He has devoured the contents of most matters while everybody else is still trying to get the wrapper off.”9

President Monson worked with non-LDS groups for two decades in the countries of Eastern Europe. His efforts were largely responsible for the creation of the first stake there in August of 1982. A personal dream of his was fulfilled when a temple was dedicated on 29 June 1985, in Freiberg, German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

“If it weren’t for Brother Monson, there would be little for our Saints in this part of Europe,” says close friend and Europe Area President Joseph B. Wirthlin. “Now we have stakes, wards, chapels and—miracle of miracles—a temple. Tom has given everything to those people, including the shirt off his back. I mean it! I’ve seen him give away his suits and his shirts and his shoes. I’ll bet he’s given away twenty suits to those destitute Saints in Eastern Europe. He says they were used, old ones that he was going to throw away, but they always looked brand new to me.”10


  • Be Your Best Self (September 1979) (ISBN 978-0877477877)
  • Inspiring Experiences That Build Faith: From the Life and Ministry of Thomas S. Monson (ISBN 978-0-87579-901-8)
  • Favorite Quotations from the Collection of Thomas S. Monson (ISBN 978-0-87747-749-5), collection of his favorite poems and quotes.
  • Live the Good Life (ISBN 978-0-87579-192-0)
  • Faith Rewarded: A Personal Account of Prophetic Promises to the East German Saints (ISBN 978-1-57345-186-4)
  • Christmas Gifts, Christmas Blessings (ISBN 978-0-87747-976-5)
  • The Search for Jesus (ISBN 978-0-87579-669-7)
  • Meeting your Goliath (ISBN 978-1-57345-357-8)
  • A Christmas Dress for Ellen (ISBN 978-1-59038-386-5)
  • Invitation to Exaltation (ISBN 978-1-57345-358-5)
  • Pathways to Perfection (ISBN 978-0-87747-511-8)
Back to Previous Church Prophet

Quotes from President Thomas S. Monson

  • "Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion. In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, “You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless. You haven’t time to be concerned for others.” Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord. In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise: 'Be not weary in well-doing. … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.'”

“Finding Peace,” Ensign, Mar. 2004

  • "It has been said that the gate of history turns on small hinges, and so do people's lives. The choices we make determine our destiny."

"Choose You This Day," Ensign, Nov. 2004

  • With all my heart and the fervency of my soul, I lift up my voice in testimony as a special witness and declare that God does live. Jesus is His Son, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Redeemer; He is our Mediator with the Father. He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins. He became the firstfruits of the Resurrection. Because He died, all shall live again. “Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’ ” May the whole world know it and live by that knowledge.

Thomas S. Monson, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives!,” Ensign, May 2007, 22–25

  • Of course, we will face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but also as a determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well.

Thomas S. Monson, “The Call for Courage,” Ensign, May 2004, 54

Thomas S. Monson - Autobiographical Stories

Thomas S. Monson is Set Apart as the New President of the Church


Citations 1-10: Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always ‘on the Lord’s Errand’,” Ensign, Feb 1986, 10: [2]

External Links

Video of Thomas S. Monson bearing testimony of Christ and the Restoration[3]

Presidents of the Mormon Church
Joseph Smith | Brigham Young | John Taylor | Wilford Woodruff | Lorenzo Snow | Joseph F. Smith | Heber J. Grant | George Albert Smith | David O. McKay | Joseph Fielding Smith | Harold B. Lee | Spencer W. Kimball | Ezra Taft Benson | Howard W. Hunter | Gordon B. Hinckley | Thomas S. Monson | Russell M. Nelson