Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack hit the bull’s eye when she penned the following within hours of President Thomas S. Monson’s death:
“Even as he ascended to the pinnacle of a worldwide faith, Thomas S. Monson never stopped being a Mormon bishop.”
What did he do as a Mormon bishop? He implemented the teachings of Jesus Christ into every waking hour of his life.
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
When I served as Tooele mayor, I literally rubbed shoulders with President Monson for a few minutes.
He visited Tooele back in 2001 and offered the dedicatory prayer at the opening of the Cottage Glen assisted living facility on the north end of town.
The developer of the project served as a full-time missionary in the early 1960s under the direction of President Monson.
He wanted everything just perfect for his special guest at the ceremony. The crystal blue skies were clear, and purple mountains to the east and west served as an ideal backdrop. However, the wind was another matter.
The sound system squealed from wind blowing over the microphone, the main canopy was on the verge of sailing to westward parts unknown, and wind gusts randomly knocked over unoccupied chairs.
The event organizer was nervously trying to pull everything together while the clock ticked toward the appointed hour. President Monson then leaned over to me and said, “Ole’ Pulispher sure is nervous. Isn’t he?”
Such was the personality and demeanor of Thomas S. Monson. Down to earth, cordial, and positive regardless of the situation.
Throughout his generations of service to God, President Monson offered countless stories and thoughts of how we can be better Christians. Here are a few of my favorites from him:
“We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.”
“Perhaps the surest test of an individual’s integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect.”
“The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility.”
“The future is as bright as your faith.”
“The way to be with God in every season is to strive to be near Him every week and each day.”
“What will you and I give for Christmas this year? Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps.”
“Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for him or her.”
“We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.”
“I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it.”
Whether it was emotional, financial, physical, or spiritual, Thomas S. Monson spent his life lifting others up personally throughout his life of service.
Charlie Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.