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An Example of Obedience and Love: President Thomas S. Monson, 1927–2018

We will remember President Monson as someone whose sense of duty and love moved him to serve God and his fellowmen.

President Thomas Spencer Monson had a wide, contagious smile, and he loved to make others laugh. But one of the most memorable things about President Monson was his storytelling. Like the Savior Himself, President Monson often used stories to teach important gospel truths. Stories from his life gave us a glimpse of who he was: an obedient servant, an example to others, and a man dedicated to service.

1. An Obedient Servant

At the age of 22, President Monson was called as the bishop of the ward he grew up in. He had only been married for 18 months and was trying to move forward with a new job. Obviously, he was in a very new, busy stage of life! Yet he obediently accepted the call and “[trusted] in the Lord with all [his] heart” (Proverbs 3:5).

As bishop, President Monson learned the importance of obeying the Spirit. After failing to act on a prompting to visit an elderly ward member in the hospital, he was devastated to discover that the ward member had died calling his name. In that moment, he promised God he would always follow the Spirit, wherever it led him. (Read this story in “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always ‘on the Lord’s Errand.’”) Because of his obedience, he was a blessing and a miracle in the lives of many.

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2. An Example to Others

Wiggling his ears? During general conference? Yep. President Monson once did it to stump a young boy who was copying his every movement during a stake conference—and then he demonstrated his ear-wiggling skills again during general conference! Even though President Monson didn’t realize it at first, he was being an example, just in the way he was sitting and moving. (Watch President Monson share this story and wiggle his ears in his April 2008 general conference address, “Examples of Righteousness.”)

President Monson was an example in other ways as well. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared that President Monson was like Nephi. With the same faith and humility, “He [was] resolute in his commitment to ‘go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded’ (1 Nephi 3:7).” (See “President Thomas S. Monson: Man of Action, Man of Faith, Always ‘on the Lord’s Errand.’”)

He stuck to his beliefs at navy boot camp, even when he felt alone. While visiting Louisiana for a stake conference, he was willing to rearrange his schedule and drive 80 miles to bless a 10-year-old girl who was sick with cancer. He followed the example of the Savior by following the Spirit and submitting himself to Heavenly Father’s will.

3. A Man Who Served with Compassion

President Monson dedicated his life to service. He often went out of his way to help others. As a boy, he frequently delivered hot meals to his lonely neighbor, “Old Bob.” As a young bishop, he visited all 84 widows in his ward every Christmas season. And on one birthday as the prophet, when he was asked what the ideal birthday present would be from members of the Church, he said he wanted members to find someone they could serve. He strove to love others as Jesus Christ does, for “love is the very essence of the gospel” (see “Love—the Essence of the Gospel,” Apr. 2014 general conference).

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Remembering President Monson

Whether he was sitting beside the ill and elderly or high-fiving teenagers, President Monson showed immense love for those around him. He led a faithful, obedient, charitable life, and his incredible example invited us to do the same.

We will always remember President Monson as the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But more than that, we will remember him as a man who obeyed the Lord’s will, stood as a valiant example, and lovingly served all of God’s children.

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