“We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, no. 19). This hymn is one of the hallmarks of the Church. We do thank God for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.
That God has provided a prophet for us is central to the faith and belief of Latter-day Saints everywhere. We know that God lives and that He loves us. We know that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and Redeemer, and we know that He has given us a prophet.
Those who lived in the early days of the Church felt deep gratitude to have lived during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The messages and testimonies of the Restoration were often firsthand experiences for the early Saints.
Marvelous things happened during the years that Brigham Young presided over the Lord’s Church. The Saints came west and established themselves in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, where the Church flourished. Those who lived during that time counted it as a great blessing to have lived during the time of the prophet Brigham Young.
This same pattern continued as the Lord provided great and noble men to direct the affairs of His Church. My parents and grandparents spoke with deep reverence and fondness of the prophet of their day—President Heber J. Grant.
For Sister Walker and me, and for many of your parents and grandparents, we loved the great example and remarkable teachings of the prophet David O. McKay. He was followed by his successors: Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and Howard W. Hunter. Each man was wonderfully prepared to lead the Church for a period of time determined by the Lord Himself. Each of them were loved and sustained by the members of the Church.
Most of you here this evening will fondly remember the great leadership of President Gordon B. Hinckley. What a blessing to have lived during his time as President of the Church.
Five years ago the Lord called President Hinckley home and Thomas S. Monson became the President of the Church—the Lord’s prophet on the earth today. Oh, what a blessing it is for you and me to live in this wonderful day when we are led by such a great prophet.
This is the Lord’s Church. He plans the lives of these great Apostles, and He places them in the position to lead His Church. It is a fact that one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Lord’s Church is that He has apostles and prophets on the earth today.
The Apostle Paul described the Church as having “apostles and prophets, [with] Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). So it was, and so it is. The Lord’s Church is distinguished by having apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Every President of the Church has testified that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church.
There are no coincidences, there are no mistakes, and there are no campaigns. When it comes to succession in the Presidency of the Lord’s Church, the Lord is in charge, and surely His will is done.
I testify to you that it is the will of the Lord that we are led today by President Thomas S. Monson, who is the Lord’s prophet on the earth today.
As the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah taught us about prophets, we know this to be true with President Monson. The scripture says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
I want to speak to you today about the life and ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
During the last year of President Hinckley’s life, he appointed me to be the Executive Director of the Temple Department, and President Monson has honored me by allowing me to remain in this assignment. Over the last six years, I have had the great and unforgettable blessing of assisting President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors on temple matters. I have sat at his side as President Monson has given me much counsel and direction about temples and temple matters throughout the world. He has invited me to accompany him to temple dedications, groundbreakings, and visits to prospective temple sites. I have had the blessing of traveling with him around the world, to places as far away as Kyiv, in the Ukraine, and Cebu, in the Philippines, and to other exciting places, like Rome, Italy.
As he has crisscrossed the world, I’ve been blessed to be there to witness his great love for people—not just members of the Church, but all people. I’ve witnessed his constant warmth and friendliness, his Christlike tenderness and sensitivity, especially for the children, the aged, and the infirm. Many times as I’ve watched President Monson, I’ve had the impression: “That is the way the Savior would act. That is the way the Savior would treat people.”
I have witnessed his never-ending enthusiasm, his drive and determination, his joy in life, and his deep desire to serve the Lord and do as the Savior would have him do. He never tires of doing the work of the Lord.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 52, verse 14, the Lord said, “I will give … you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.”
I love this scripture because it teaches me that the Lord will provide a pattern for me and show me how to do things, how to act, how to live. But it is not about me. It is about each of us. The Lord does show us the way. He does provide patterns in each of our lives to show us how to live.
I believe one of the important patterns in our lives is the life of the prophet who guides and directs the Lord’s Church in our day. As I mentioned earlier, for me as a young person, the pattern was President David O. McKay. I loved him and sustained him, prayed for him, and studied his words carefully, and I wanted to be as much like him as I could imagine that I could be.
I suspect that when many of your parents were young, their pattern was President Spencer W. Kimball. Of course, for each of us, our greatest desire is to pattern our life after the Savior—to follow Him, to live His commandments, and to be as much like Him as we can be.
In 3 Nephi 27:27, Jesus taught: “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”
That is our principal goal—to be like Him.
Positioned on the wall of every office President Monson has occupied since being called as bishop has been a familiar print of the Savior painted by Heinrich Hofmann. It is a beautiful portrayal of the Savior.
Speaking about this painting, President Monson said: “I love the painting, which I have had since I was a twenty-two-year-old bishop and which I have taken with me wherever I have been assigned to labor. I have tried to pattern my life after the Master. Whenever I have had a difficult decision to make, I have always looked at that picture and asked myself, ‘What would He do?’ Then I try to do it” (in Heidi S. Swinton, To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson , 135).
I know that President Monson thinks about following the example of Jesus. On one occasion I was with President Monson for an event prior to a temple dedication. He had just flown in that day, and as the evening meeting was drawing to a close, I thought President Monson might be tired, and I wanted to make sure he got some rest prior to the events of the next day. As the closing hymn was being sung, I leaned over to President Monson and said, “President, after the closing prayer, if we slip out the side door, we can get you back to the hotel quickly and you can get some rest.”
With a puzzled look, he said to me, “Elder Walker, if Jesus were here, do you think He would slip out the side door when the meeting ended?”
I haven’t made that suggestion again. Like the Savior would have done, he wanted to be with the people. He wasn’t thinking about himself at all. He was thinking about the good he could do.
I have always felt that I can be a better person when I pattern my life after righteous individuals that the Lord has placed in my path: my grandparents, my parents, my bishops, my mission president, and of course, the prophet of God who I can see and hear and for whom I pray each day. I am sure that most of you do the same.
It has been a wonderful blessing in my life to seek to be more like the Lord and to seek to be more like His prophet—President Thomas S. Monson.
I would like to share with you some of the life and teachings of President Monson, and hopefully, as I do so, you will be able to identify characteristics that you will want to put into your life. We would all be blessed to seek to pattern our lives after and learn from the Lord’s prophet.
Like Nephi, and like most of you, Thomas S. Monson was born of goodly parents. He was born in Salt Lake City on August 21, 1927. He was raised in humble circumstances. He never tried to recharacterize where he was from. With his self-effacing sense of humor, combined with complete comfort with who he is, President Monson would occasionally say he didn’t need to worry about which side of the railroad tracks he was from because he grew up between the railroad tracks.
I’ve always been impressed with how he has always spoken so fondly of his youth. I think he was a lot like Nephi. Laman and Lemuel were good at seeing the problems and looking at the negative side of everything, it seemed. Nephi, on the other hand, was positive, optimistic, and grateful. He saw the good in everything around him. That is the way Tommy Monson grew up—and he has been that way all of his life!
He was a good student, and perhaps more importantly, he was a good boy. He showed his desire to do well in the service of the Lord when he was called to serve as secretary of the deacons quorum in his ward. Nearly 70 years later, as President of the Church, he reflected with some pride on his desire to make the minutes of his deacons quorum the best they could be. He had no thought about “Why am I the secretary and not the president of the quorum?” He just wanted to do his job well. He had been called to a position in the Lord’s Church, and he wanted to do his best. He wanted the minutes to be neat and orderly, and so he typed the minutes for his deacons quorum. As a 12-year-old boy, he was setting a wonderful example for us.
If this sounds remarkable to you, I’m not surprised. It was also remarkable to his stake president who, when he heard of young Tommy’s excellent work, called on him to speak in stake conference—as the secretary of the deacons quorum. Have you ever heard of the secretary of a deacons quorum speaking in stake conference? What an example for all of us!
He finished high school and joined the United States Navy. He served his country, and while doing so, he kept himself clean and virtuous. He returned from his military service and worked hard to get a good education. He was a good student—another great example for all of us! (The example of being a good student may be more important for some of you than for others.)
He courted and fell in love with a beautiful Latter-day Saint girl named Frances Johnson and soon afterward asked her to marry him. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on October 7, 1948, at age 21. What an example for all of us! (Again, perhaps more important for some of you than for others.)
Although only married for 18 months, and while working to get ahead in a new job, he accepted the call from the Lord to serve as the bishop of a large inner-city ward. It was the ward in which he had grown up. (Think about that!) He didn’t say, “The timing is not right” or “I’m too young”; he just accepted the call, trusted in the Lord, and threw himself into the assignment with all the energy and talent that the Lord had given him. He wanted to be the best he could be in the service of the Lord.
Young Bishop Monson came to love a scripture that can bless each of our lives, as it blessed his life:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
To this day, President Monson cites that scripture often and lives his life in accordance with what it teaches us. What an example he is for all of us! We would all do well if we remembered that scripture and made it an important part of our philosophy of life—just as President Monson has done.
Bishop Monson’s ward had over 1,000 members, including 84 widows. We have been blessed in general conference and other settings to occasionally hear him tell some of the sweet experiences he had as he nurtured these sisters who were blessed to come under his care.
For me, every time I hear him speak of one of his experiences as bishop, I realize, and it is very impressive to me, that his love and concern for the members of his ward did not end when he was released as bishop. He was called into the stake presidency at age 27, but even many years later (after his call as a mission president and an Apostle), he continued to love, nurture, and look out for the older members of his ward. He was clearly not just loving and caring for them by assignment. His love and concern for them sank deep into his heart and could not be taken away by any change of assignment.
In this, President Monson has shown us the way. It is a better way; it is the Lord’s way. He loves others and is concerned for others—just as the Lord taught us that we should be. What an example he is for all of us!
At age 31, President Monson was called to be president of the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. Just as he had done as bishop, he threw himself into his assignment, gave it everything he had, and trusted in the Lord with all his heart. Everyone around him could see his love for the Lord, his love for his wife and children, his love for the missionaries and the members, and his love for Canada, the land where he had been called to serve. His influence as mission president was profound and to this day cannot be measured. His missionaries loved him and sought to live lives that would make their mission president proud. We can all learn from that.
Just as he did when he was released as bishop, he continued to hold dear in his heart his feelings and affection for his missionaries and the Saints who had been blessed to come under his stewardship. I have been a witness to President Monson’s never-diminishing affection and interest in the missionaries who served under him in the Canadian Mission. What an example!
I know the missionaries who were blessed to have Thomas S. Monson as their mission president have tried to follow the pattern of righteous service in the Lord’s kingdom that President and Sister Monson modeled for them. To illustrate, I share with you the remarkable fact that of the 141 temple presidents currently serving throughout the world, five of them were young missionaries who served under President Monson in the Canadian Mission.
Thousands of you who are with us this evening are returned missionaries. I pray that each of us will follow the example of these five temple presidents and strive to be faithful and walk the path of righteous service modeled by our mission presidents.
I was touched recently to see a photo in the Church News of President Monson visiting a man in a Toronto, Canada, hospital (see “Teachings of the Prophet,” Church News, Feb. 3, 2013, 7). This gentleman had served at President Monson’s side 50 years earlier. President Monson had not forgotten him. Many years and many miles had not robbed President Monson of the sweet feelings of love and appreciation that come to those who serve the Lord together. I hope each of us will follow his example and not forget those who have blessed our lives in earlier years.
In 1963, when he was 36 years old, Thomas S. Monson was invited to the office of President David O. McKay, who was the President of the Church at that time. It was at this meeting that President McKay called him to be an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
President Monson is the only Apostle called to the Twelve at such a young age in the last 100 years. Surely, the hand of the Lord directed the call of this young Apostle because the Lord knew Thomas S. Monson would lead the Church in our day.
This October general conference will be the 50th anniversary of Thomas S. Monson’s call to be an Apostle. How wonderful is that? (Not since Joseph Fielding Smith have we had an Apostle celebrate 50 years in the Twelve.)
For 22 years President Monson served as a counselor to three Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley. On February 3, 2008, Thomas S. Monson was ordained and set apart as the President of the Church. He has two noble and great counselors who stand at his side: President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. They are the three presiding high priests who direct the Lord’s Church on the earth today (see D&C 107:22).
President Monson’s remarkable ministry has often been characterized by the expression “to the rescue.” Heidi Swinton wrote a marvelous biography on his life, and she fittingly entitled it To the Rescue. The biography was published in 2010. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it to you. It will bless your life.
The message, of course, is the same message that Jesus gave us in Luke: to leave the “ninety and nine” and go and rescue the one (Luke 15:4). This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to love our fellowmen and to do all we can to bless their lives. President Monson has always taught these principles, but more importantly, he lives that way. His life has been filled with countless examples of reaching out to visit, comfort, or assist those most in need: the widows, the children, the sick, the afflicted, and those who are lonely or brokenhearted.
The Apostle James wrote, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
This is the way President Monson has lived his life. The lesson for us is that one does not need to be an Apostle to live this way. We can live our religion, we can visit the fatherless and the widows, and we can keep ourselves unspotted from the world. We can look to our prophet to see how we can do this! We can say to ourselves, “That is the kind of person I want to be.”
Several years ago, just before general conference, President Monson taught yet another wonderful lesson. This time it was to the assembled General Authorities, who had traveled to Salt Lake City, many coming from places around the world where they were serving in Area Presidencies. It was a very important meeting. We had come together to be instructed by the First Presidency and the Twelve.
As the time for the meeting approached, everyone seemed to be in attendance except President Monson, who had not yet arrived. Several minutes before the meeting was to begin, we stopped visiting with each other and sat reverently listening to the prelude music—expecting that the prophet would come in at any moment.
We patiently waited as the hour of 9:00 a.m. came and then passed. Someone walked out the side door—obviously to check and see if some assistance might be needed. On his reentrance into the room, we were told that “President Monson will join us shortly.”
About 15 minutes after the meeting was to have started, President Monson entered the room. Out of respect, we stood as he entered. We were happy to see him and pleased that he looked well. It did not appear that there was any obvious reason as to why he would have been late.
President Monson went straight to the pulpit and said, “Brethren, I’m sorry to be late, but my wife needed me this morning.”
I was deeply impressed and humbled. I couldn’t quit thinking about President Monson’s words. This was a very important meeting. The entire senior leadership of the Church was assembled, but President Monson set the example for us all. His wife needed him, and he took the time necessary to care for her. It was a great sermon. I don’t remember anything else that was said that day, but I remember that sermon: “My wife needed me.”
This sermon was reinforced on another occasion when President Monson said, “When I hear men say they love their wives, then I want to say to them, ‘Then prove it by how you treat her and how you serve her.’”
That is the way President Monson is: He is always looking out for someone else. He is always showing kindness and care for others.
You don’t have to be around President Monson long to sense his deep love and commitment to his sweetheart, Sister Frances Monson. Whenever he speaks of her, his eyes light up and he gets a big smile on his face. You know this is a man whose love for his wife is an example to every one of us. President and Sister Monson have shown us the example of a man and a woman equally yoked in their love of the Lord and their desire to serve Him in righteousness.
I want to be more like the Lord, but I also want to be more like His prophet.
If you wonder what President Monson might desire for each of you, maybe the sharing of the following experience will help you to know:
Last November the beautiful Boise Idaho Temple was ready for rededication, following an 18-month closure to beautify and upgrade the temple. After 30 years of remarkable use by the faithful Saints in that part of Idaho and surrounding areas, the temple was in much need of repair. After it was completed, as has been customary, to celebrate the occasion of the temple rededication, the youth of the temple district were invited to put on a grand cultural celebration. It was an evening of singing and dancing and expressing their faith and gratitude for the temple.
I was seated next to President Monson as we watched the wonderful presentations by the various stakes. One of the dance numbers featured a lovely group of young women. As President Monson was enjoying the performance, he leaned over to me and expressed the feelings of his heart. He said, “My hope would be for every one of them to have a temple marriage. I so much want each one of them to have that blessing—to be married in the temple.”
I thought: “Isn’t this wonderful. The prophet of God is here witnessing this youth celebration of song and dance, and for him it is very clearly connected to the temple that he would dedicate the next morning. His hope was for every one of them to have a temple marriage.” If that is the prophet’s desire for us, and it is, then each one of us should want that for ourselves, and it should be a very, very important goal in each of our lives.
I would like to share another experience with you:
President Monson, President Eyring, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled to Laie, Hawaii, for the rededication of that magnificent temple in November of 2010. The night before the temple dedication, we were assembled in the Cannon Center on the BYU–Hawaii campus for the cultural celebration. The program was wonderful. Through song, dance, and narrative, the youth of the temple district told the story of the history of the Church in Hawaii. They told of the early missionaries and the early converts. They told the remarkable story of the future prophet Joseph F. Smith being called to serve a mission in Hawaii in 1854, when he was only 15 years of age. Young Joseph F. Smith returned from his three-year mission just before his 19th birthday. (And you thought the recent age change to 18 was remarkable, didn’t you?)
The cultural celebration continued as the youth portrayed the growth of the Church among the Polynesian people and told how President Joseph F. Smith returned to Hawaii over 50 years later and, as the President of the Church, dedicated the site and broke ground for the construction of the Laie Hawaii Temple.
The cultural celebration was wonderful, and President Monson loved every bit of it. He enjoyed a performance that featured the popular World War II dance number “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” because it reminded him of his days in the United States Navy. Other numbers focused on the various dances of the island people.
A number featuring the beautiful hula dance was performed. One of the young women involved in this dance was in a wheelchair. She was very pretty, and even though she didn’t have the use of her legs, she performed the dance beautifully. President Monson pointed her out to me and commented on how lovely she was and how beautifully she was doing the dance.
As the program ended, everyone was happy about the great performances given. As we left the stand, all of the dancers were back on the floor, including the hula dancers. President Monson didn’t follow the planned exit route but went straight to the floor to express his appreciation to the youth, and in particular he went straight to the beautiful girl in the wheelchair to commend her and express his love to her.
Even in the midst of the celebration and the large crowd, President Monson again showed the pure love of the Savior. He went to the one. He bent down and kissed her on the forehead. I thought: “Isn’t this wonderful. Once again the prophet of God is showing us how to reach out to those around us, how to be kind and loving, and how to encourage and to lift.” I thought: “This is the way Jesus would act. This is the way the Savior would want us to treat others.”
I love the Primary song that says, “I’m trying to be like Jesus” (“I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus,” Children's Songbook, 78). And I want to add to that, “And I’m trying to be like His prophet.”
I would like to suggest five ways we can follow the example of President Monson:
First, we can be positive, and we can be happy.
In the Pearl of Great Price, the Prophet Joseph Smith is described as having a cheery countenance (see Joseph Smith—History 1:28). That also describes President Monson. He really has a cheery countenance.
On one occasion President Monson said: “We … can choose to have a positive attitude. We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. In other words, we can choose to be happy and positive, regardless of what comes our way” (“Messages of Inspiration from President Monson,” Church News, Sept. 2, 2012, 2).
One day I was waiting outside the First Presidency boardroom. I had been invited there to take part in a meeting to discuss temple matters. I quietly sat outside the room, alone. I thought the First Presidency was already meeting and that I would be invited to join them in a few minutes. As I sat there I could hear someone walking down the hall whistling. I thought to myself: “Someone doesn’t understand proper protocol. You don’t go walking around whistling outside the office of the President of the Church.” A moment later the whistler walked around the corner—it was President Monson. He was happy, and he was positive. He greeted me warmly and said, “I guess we’ll start the meeting in a couple of minutes.” Even with the weight of the whole Church on his shoulders, he is an example of happiness and he always has a positive attitude. We should be that way.
Second, we can be kind and loving toward children, the way President Monson is.
Jesus spoke often of children. His prophet, President Monson, speaks often of children as well, and I’ve particularly seen at the temple dedications how he loves children and, by his example, teaches us how to treat them. At every temple dedication he focuses on the children. He loves to include them in the cornerstone ceremony and always invites a few of them to put some mortar in the cornerstone to participate in the symbolic completion of the temple. He makes it fun for them. He makes it memorable for them. He always has a big smile for them. He encourages and commends them. It is a wonderful thing to see.
His warm greetings occasionally include high fives, wiggling of his ears, and encouragement to serve missions and marry in the temple. He really enjoys life—and shouldn’t we all.
A few years ago President Monson was scheduled to dedicate the Oquirrh Mountain Temple on his birthday. As he arrived at the temple and approached the front door of the temple, a group of young people had assembled. They obviously knew it was President Monson’s birthday because they began to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. He loved it. He stopped and faced them with a big smile on his face. He even started to wave his arms as if he was leading them in the singing. At the end they added the refrain “And many more.” President Monson loved that too, as he said to me, “That’s my favorite part.”
The children and the young people of the Church love him, and I think it is because they have no doubt that he loves them! Jesus loved the little children, and His prophet loves the little children. That is a great example for each of us!
Third, we can follow the promptings of the Spirit, like President Monson.
President Monson’s devotion to the Lord and his commitment to following the promptings of the Spirit were beautifully stated by the prophet himself with these words: “The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him” (On the Lord’s Errand [DVD, 2008]). That is a pattern that each of us should want to follow.
Fourth, we can love the temple, as President Monson loves the temple.
President Monson will go down in history as one of the great temple builders in the history of the Church. Since becoming President of the Church in February 2008, he has continued the great work of building temples. Some of the temples that he has announced have been among the most historic: “This morning I am pleased to announce five new temples for which sites have been acquired and which, in coming months and years, will be built in the following locations: Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Córdoba, Argentina; the greater Kansas City area; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Rome, Italy” (Thomas S. Monson, “Welcome to Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 6).
In the five years that he has been the prophet, President Monson has announced plans to build 33 new temples. Just last month, in April conference, he announced plans for two new temples: one in Cedar City, Utah, and one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
With the dedication of the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple in March, we now have 141 temples in the Church, with another 29 currently under construction or in the planning stages. This is a great time of temple building and temple worship in the Lord’s Church. I’ve heard President Monson tell young people who were too young to enter the temple to go up and touch the wall of the temple and then “let the temple touch you.”
President Monson has said, “May each of us live worthy lives, with clean hands and pure hearts, so that the temple may touch our lives and our families” (“Blessings of the Temple,” Ensign, Oct. 2010, 19).
He also gave this wonderful promise: “As we love the temple, touch the temple, and attend the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we come to these holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we shall be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation” (Be Your Best Self , 56; emphasis added).
Let us follow the pattern that the prophet has set for us in loving the temple.
Fifth, we can be kind, considerate, and love others, as President Monson does.
President Monson is a wonderful example of loving others. His entire ministry has been filled with visits to homes; placing his hands on heads and giving blessings; making unexpected phone calls to comfort and encourage; sending letters of encouragement, commendation, and appreciation; visits to hospitals and care centers; and finding the time to go to funerals and viewings despite a very busy schedule.
I mentioned earlier the 84 widows from President Monson’s ward when he was bishop. Over the decades that followed his service as bishop, in an incredible manifestation of dedication combined with the results of many of their prayers, President Monson was able to attend the funeral of every one of them. Just think about that.
Just as the Savior would do, Thomas Monson has gone about doing good, blessing and loving others as if that has been the driving force in his life. We could all learn from this as we seek to follow in his footsteps.
A remarkable example of President Monson’s kindness occurred last year. As the beautiful Brigham City Utah Temple was nearing completion, I met with the First Presidency to discuss plans for the dedication of the temple. With Brigham City being only one hour north of Salt Lake City, it would have been very easy for President Monson to travel there for the dedication. Instead, President Monson said, “Brigham City is the hometown of President Boyd K. Packer, this great Apostle who has sat beside me for so many years in the Twelve. I want him to have the honor and blessing of dedicating the temple in his hometown. I will stay away, and I’ll assign President Packer to dedicate the Brigham City Temple. I want it to be his day.”
It was a wonderful day for President Packer and for Sister Packer, who also grew up in Brigham City. I was very touched by President Monson’s kind and magnanimous gesture to his fellow Apostle. We can all be that way. We can share and be kind and not think of ourselves so much—but think more of those around us.
I love the children’s song “Follow the Prophet.” It has nine wonderful verses, but I only have time to read the last verse:
Now we have a world where people are confused.
If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.
We can get direction all along our way,
If we heed the prophets—follow what they say.
… … … … … … … … … .
Follow the prophet; don’t go astray.
… … … … … … … … … .
Follow the prophet; he knows the way.
(Children’s Songbook, 111)
President Monson does know the way. The right way is the Lord’s way. “The right way is to believe in Christ” (2 Nephi 25:29).
President Monson has taught us the way to live our lives with his wonderful and inspiring messages at general conference. He has taught us how to be followers of Jesus Christ by his remarkable and wonderful personal example. Truly the Lord has given us a pattern in all things, and one of the patterns that we should seek to follow is that of our beloved prophet.
I testify that there is a God in heaven who knows us and loves us. He has given us a prophet—to guide us, to teach us, and to lead us in these latter days. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of this world. I believe the Lord expects us to love the prophet, to sustain him, and to follow his example.
We do thank Thee, O God, for a prophet. We thank Thee for this prophet. I count it as a great blessing to have lived in the day when Thomas S. Monson was the Lord’s prophet. As we follow the prophet and try to be more like him, we will inevitably succeed in being more faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It has been an honor to speak to you this evening, and I pray the Lord will bless each of you abundantly, as I testify that this is the Lord’s work, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.