Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen before Jesus called them and ordained them apostles to follow in his footsteps. As these early apostles left their nets, so modern apostles leave their normal professions to give full time, lifetime service to the Lord and his church and kingdom today.
Thomas S. Monson was an executive in the publishing business before he was called in 1963 to an apostleship that would mark the next 54 years of his life, until his passing on Jan. 2 at age 90. Beloved and revered as a prophet and for the last 10 years President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he may be best known for the simple acts of Christlike kindness towards all he met. Tributes have poured in from people whose lives he touched during a lifetime of unselfish service, most often on a one-to-one basis.
Gig Harbor resident Woody Taylor, now 84, recalls a sweet call by Elder Monson in 1997 to preside over the Chile Viña del Mar Mission for three years. Frank Lombardo, now 86 and retired in Gig Harbor, was in the U.S. Air Force in Germany in the 1960s when Elder Monson called him to serve as a bishop in a serviceman’s ward. Lombardo has never forgotten the advice the young apostle gave him. “Now bishop,” he said, “the success of your administration will not be determined by the many hours you spend in your office, but by how much time is spent out visiting your flock.”
From LDS.org, “His life, not just his years of service in the highest quorums of the Church, were marked by his constant attention to those in need. For more than 50 years, President Monson reached out to rescue the lonely, bereft, unnoticed, and unrecognized. He gave the clothes off his back and the shoes off his feet; he spent countless hours with widows and those in care centers and hospitals; he gave comfort and encouragement to those discouraged, lacking faith, or far from home; he shared his cheerful nature with anyone in his path.”
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In keeping with the character of this humble servant, the Church News reported on the occasion of his 81st birthday he was asked to describe what he would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give him. Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for them. That’s all I would ask” (Church News, Aug. 23, 2008).
I have listened in awe to Elder Monson’s addresses at twice yearly General Conferences of the Church, and where he often shared moving personal stories from his own experience to teach important principles.
His inspired announcement in October 2012 lowering the age of missionary service for young men to 18 and young women to 19 swelled the missionary ranks dramatically, and the fruits of that action will be seen in years to come in strengthening families and building leadership at all levels of the Church.
“Not only by precept did Jesus teach, but also by example. He was faithful to his divine mission. He stretched forth his hand that others might be lifted toward God,” he taught in General Conference in 1971.
Later, as a counselor to three previous church presidents for some 22 years, Monson brought executive skills to the highest governing body of the church, but also his own firm witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. “The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and his words provide an unfailing guide,” he taught in 2014.
Funeral services will be held at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, (Jan. 12) and carried on BYUtv beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time.