An Exemplary Life. Proof That One Man Can Change The World.

Tomorrow morning is the funeral of one of my heroes. My first interactions with Thomas S. Monson (whom I will refer to from now on as President Monson out of respect as at the time of his passing he was serving in the positon of the President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the Mormon Church, and thus is respectfully called President Monson) came as a result of his friendship with my Grandfather Stanley Rees. The two of them were dear friends throughout their lives. In fact, it was President Monson who gave the eulogy at my Grandfather Rees’ funeral when he passed away years ago. So I grew up hearing stories of Grandfather’s adventures with President Monson back from the times the two of them were doing service for the LDS Church in Germany.

President Monson spent his life in the service of others. And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with a memory as good as his. He remembered names and stories and poetry like no one I have ever seen. And growing up he was always one of my very favorite speakers. I loved the sound of his voice and the way he would chuckle during stories in his talks. Most of all I loved the way he lived his life, always in the service of others. He was a generous and kind man who truly loved the Lord, which was evidenced by the way he loved and served others.

On of my favorite personal memories with President Monson was the time he almost caused my husband Rollin to have a heart attack – It was during the time Rollin and I were engaged to be married and my father and mother were away serving in the LDS Temple Presidency of the Ghana Accra Temple.  Rollin and I were attending a funeral for another friend and President Monson was there speaking. After the funeral I took Rollin up to introduce him to President Monson and to let President Monson know that I was engaged (because of his friendship with our family). President Monson, knowing my father was gone to Africa, put his hand on Rollin’s shoulder and looked him in the eye and asked, “Do I need to interview you on behalf of her Father? Because I did that for her Grandfather when his daughter got engaged because he too was out of the country at that time.” Rollin started sweating buckets at the thought of being interviewed by this world religious leader, President Monson. Rollin just stood there looking terrified until President Monson started chuckling and then expressed his congratulations to us and his love of our family.  Seeing Rollin sweat day at President Monson’s playful teasing will always be one of my favorite memories 🙂

I could go on and on about this great man and the stories of how he impacted my life and the example he set, but instead I will simply share just a few favorite quotes from talks he has given over the years that have inspired me in my life:

“Life’s journey is not traveled on a freeway devoid of obstacles, pitfalls and snares. Rather, it is a pathway marked by forks and turnings. Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed: the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny.”

“May we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

“Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.”

“Work will work when wishy washy wishing won’t.”

“Stick to a task ’til it sticks to you. . .for beginners are many, but finishers few.”

“There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today, and to live most fully today, we must do that which is of greatest importance. Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most.”

“Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.”

“…do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.”

“Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.”

“”To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, ‘How might we achieve these goals?’ I answer, ‘By getting a true perspective of who we really are!’ We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created.”

“Prayer can solve more problems, alleviate more suffering, prevent more transgression, and bring about greater peace and contentment in the human soul than can be obtained in any other way.”

“There is a guiding hand above all things. Often when things happen, it’s not by accident. One day, when we look back at the seeming coincidences of our lives, we will realize that perhaps they weren’t so coincidental after all.”

“[W]e do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He [God] was always there beside you.”

“Having gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not delivering it.”

“When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be.”

“Perhaps when we face our maker, we will not be asked, ‘How many positions did you hold,’ but rather, ‘How many people did you help?”

“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.”

“Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

“I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness.”

“Don’t save something only for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a special occasion.”

“It is the immutable law that the more you give away, the more you receive. You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”

“This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. . . . I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and non-existent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.”

President Thomas S. Monson truly was a great man, and one of my heroes. He led an exemplary life, and I am forever grateful for the impact he has had on mine.

~Amy Rees Anderson


  • Uncle Don says:

    Thank you for reminding me of some of his wise and beautiful quotes. He was truly an example of one capable and willing to serve others and the Lord. How could anyone help but love that man?

  • Scott Fugate says:

    Amy, Thank you for that wonderful reflection of the life of President Monson. I’m always amazed how a sad event like the passing of one of our church leaders, (and others) can lead to such inspirational thoughts and reflections such as yours. This was very uplifting. Thanks for sharing.

  • Heather Vogeley says:

    LOVE these quotes! Great compilation. Thank you!

  • Kenneth Madsen says:

    I prefer this too.

    I’m writing an obituary of a dear lady cherished by the few people that knew her.
    While researching obituaries, I followed a recommendation of a preferred obituary written by LRees’s daughter, from the NY Times.

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