Looking Back on the Prophet’s Teachings from More Than 50 Years of Church Service

Contributed By Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer

  • 17 August 2017

President Thomas S. Monson speaks at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on November 1, 2011. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Since being called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at age 36, President Thomas S. Monson has offered words of comfort, direction, wisdom, and testimony while ministering to members throughout the world.

In conjunction with his 90th birthday on August 21, following are a sampling of quotes from his more than 50 years of service.


“One might ask, concerning those who assist in the welfare program, What prompts such devotion on the part of every worker? The answer can be stated simply: An individual testimony of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, even a heartfelt desire to love the Lord with all one's heart, mind, and soul, and one's neighbor as oneself” (“The Way of the Lord,” Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, 13).

U.S. President Ronald Reagan visits the Ogden cannery, accompanied by President Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson, Sepember 9, 1982. Photo by O. Wallace Kasteler, Deseret News Archives.

We are all teachers

“We are all teachers. We should ever remember that we not only teach with words; we teach also by who we are and how we live our lives. As we teach others, may we follow the example of the perfect teacher, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He left His footprints in the sands of the seashore, but left His teaching principles in the hearts and in the lives of all whom He taught. He instructed His disciples of that day, and to us He speaks the same words, ‘Follow thou me.’ May we go forward in the spirit of obedient response, that it may be said of each of us as it was spoken of the Redeemer, ‘Thou art a teacher come from God’” (Worldwide Priesthood Leadership Satellite Broadcast, Feb. 10, 2007).

President Thomas S. Monson greets members of the Washington D.C. chapter of the BYU Management Society after speaking at its annual meeting, March 11, 1989. Photo courtesy of Deseret Morning News Archives.


“Is the voice of the Lord heard today? How does it come to man? Can your search for truth be guided by His voice? Can mine? Today, as always when the true Church of Christ is on the earth, there stands at its head a prophet. And just as the voice of the Lord came to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah, it has likewise come to latter-day prophets” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 18).

President Spencer W. Kimball greets Elder Thomas S. Monson as Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (center) and Elder Boyd K. Packer stand near, April 8, 1978. Photo by Don Grayston, Deseret Morning News Archives.


Elder Thomas S. Monson addresses a Friday session at the MIA Conference, June 29, 1968. Photo by J Heslop, Deseret Morning News Archives.

“One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of a house you lived in, how much you had in the bank account, nor what your clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because you were important in the life of a boy or a girl” (“In Quest of the Abundant Life,” Utah State University Baccalaureate, June 2, 1967).


“May the laughter of children gladden our hearts. May the faith of children soothe our souls. May the love of children prompt our deeds. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). May our Heavenly Father ever bless these sweet souls, these special friends of the Master” (“Precious Children—A Gift from God,” Oct. 1991 general conference).

Thomas S. Monson at a neighborhood house on December 14, 1988. Photo courtesy of Deseret Morning News Archives.


President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, in front of the Salt Lake Temple. Photo courtesy of LDS Church Archives.

“Our most cherished friend is our partner in marriage. This old world would be so much better off today if kindness and deference were daily a reflection of our gratitude for wife, for husband” (“An Attitude of Gratitude,” Apr. 1992 general conference).


“As we look heavenward, we inevitably learn of our responsibility to reach outward. To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy. We do not live alone—in our city, our nation, or our world. There is no dividing line between our prosperity and our neighbor’s wretchedness. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is more than a divine truth. It is a pattern for perfection. This truth inspires the familiar charge, ‘Go forth to serve.’ Try as some of us may, we cannot escape the influence our lives have upon the lives of others. Ours is the opportunity to build, to lift, to inspire and indeed to lead. … The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that a true Latter-day Saint ‘is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church or in any other, or in no church at all, wherever he finds them’ (Times and Seasons, Mar. 15, 1842, 732)” (“The Joy of Service,” New Era, Oct. 2009, 4).

President Thomas S. Monson greets a widow in Goerlitz, Germany, 1995. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf is at the back left.
Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.

Temple blessings

“Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort” (“The Holy Temple—A Beacon to the World,” Apr. 2011 general conference).

President Thomas S. Monson greets the king and queen of Sweden at the Bern Switzerland Temple. Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.

Love thy neighbor

“Time passes. Circumstances change. Conditions vary. Unaltered is the divine command to succor the weak and lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. Each of us has the charge to be not a doubter, but a doer; not a leaner, but a lifter” (“With Hand and Heart,” Ensign, Dec. 1971).

President Thomas S. Monson visits June 26 with Pat Davies, called as the first patriarch of the Toronto Ontario Stake, which President Monson organized in 1962. Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News.

A divine work

Elder Thomas S. Monson speaks during the April 1973 general conference.

“I know that God lives, my brothers and sisters. There is no question in my mind. I know that this is His work, and I know that the sweetest experience in all this life is to feel His promptings as He directs us in the furtherance of His work. I have felt these promptings as a young bishop, guided to the homes where there was spiritual, or perhaps temporal, want. I felt it again in the mission field as I worked with your sons and your daughters—the missionaries of this great Church who are a living witness and testimony to the world that this work is divine and that we are led by a prophet” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 14).