These past two months, my book club decided to take on the challenge of reading the very long and very comprehensive biography of Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We decided that the timing would be perfect since we were not meeting in August, which gave each of us eight weeks to delve into the 600-plus pages.
Getting started was not easy, but it was nothing compared to the daunting task the author faced when Pres. Monson called her personally and asked her to be the one to write his life story. To write a prophet’s biography would be hard enough, but to write the biography of a living prophet who is adored throughout the world would be monumental, indeed.
Despite my sympathies for Sis. Swinton, I do think that she had a hard time finding her footing at the beginning, and her writing style is a little sterile. This is something that the entire book group agreed on, and so we decided to focus more on the book’s content than its literary aspects.
Whether you are of the LDS faith or not, whether you agree with the Church’s doctrine or not, there is one thing that is undeniable, which is that Pres. Monson is an extraordinary man. Born in 1927 and raised by a loving family in Salt Lake City, Utah, even as a boy little Tommy was unique. His concern for others, his attitude towards service, his work ethic, and his unwavering faith all began at a very young age.
He took on adult responsibilities much younger than most, and excelled in each job or calling. Married at 21, a bishop at 22, in the stake presidency at 27, a mission president at 30, and called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the unheard-of age of 36, the accelerated rate of his callings only magnify the fact that his wisdom and faith exceeded his years.
There were some sections that I felt compelled to skim (his schedules, Boy Scout awards, descriptions of various committees,) but other sections required my full attention. His work with the saints in East Germany was incredible and I learned things about him and the challenges experienced by the church members caught behind the Berlin Wall that were awe-inspiring and faith-building. I also loved reading about his humility, because even though he has been in very prominent Church positions, Pres. Monson still remains incredibly humble, and incredibly focused on serving the Lord and His children. His actions and decisions are always driven by the Lord’s will and not his own.
Every church president has a “focus” during his tenure, whether it be missionary work or temples, but Pres. Monson’s focus seems to be about helping the Lord’s lost sheep and bringing international attention to the saints scattered throughout the world.
And throughout his life, Pres. Monson has still retained a love of life, laughter and fun. He is devoted to his wife of 61 years, his 3 children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I was more inspired by his example than his accomplishments. Few will be able to duplicate the things he has done, but anyone can emulate how he has done them.