One of my favorite family Thanksgiving traditions is sharing a list of those things that we are thankful for. But this got me thinking, what might our prophet include on his list?
Our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, has not only made gratitude an important theme of his ministry, but demonstrates it often in his life.
Since becoming the President of the Church, President Monson has delivered sixty-three General Conference addresses. Here at Mormon Hub, we read through each of these talks. An astonishing forty-four of them include President Monson saying some of the things he is specifically thankful for. Using the information from his talks, we compiled what we think might make his list.
1. The Other General Authorities
President Monson clearly loves those who he works with. He has thanked the other general authorities thirteen times since becoming president of the Church.
I thank my brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve for their most able and untiring service in the work of the Lord. Likewise I express my gratitude to the members of the Quorums of the Seventy and to the Presiding Bishopric for their selfless and effective service. I similarly express my appreciation for the women and men who serve as general auxiliary officers.
President Monson also specifically calls out his two counselors who he says always, “serve by my side.”
2. Past Prophets
The weight of the mantle of President of the Church makes President Monson grateful for his predecessors who helped show him the way.
I am keenly aware of the 15 men who preceded me as President of the Church. Many of them I have known personally. I have had the blessing and privilege of serving as a counselor to three of them. I am grateful for the abiding legacy left by each one of those 15 men. I have the sure knowledge, as I am confident they had, that God directs His prophet.
We know we are also so grateful for the example and leadership of each of our prophets.
President Monson regularly expresses his gratitude for the music at conference and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in particular.
The music has been magnificent. How grateful I am for those blessed with musical talents who are willing to share their talents with others. I am reminded of the scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”
While, they are clearly on his mind around conference, time, they are certainly worth our gratitude year round.
4. Advanced Technologies
Growing up in an earlier generation, President Monson has lived through major advancements in technology. He recognizes how those have blessed him.
How grateful I am for the age in which we live—an age of such advanced technology that we are able to address you across the world.
While we should put away our cell phones for Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps we can also be grateful for how useful they are when we are finished.
5. His Wife Frances
President Monson spoke often of his gratitude for his wife Frances. Perhaps his most touching tribute was soon after her passing:
I am grateful every day of my life [for] my beloved wife, Frances. . . . There is no blessing more precious to me than the peace and comfort I receive from the knowledge I have that she and I will be together again.
His example of gratitude for his wife, can inspire us to show gratitude for those we are closest to.
6. Children & Grandchildren
President Monson’s family has brought him great joy. He has taken the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the gratitude that he has for his family.
I express gratitude to my Heavenly Father for our three children and their companions, for eight wonderful grandchildren, and for four beautiful great-grandchildren.
President Monson is very grateful for the missionaries in the world. As a former mission president, he has seen their great value up close.
We are deeply grateful for the labors of our missionaries and for the sacrifices which they and their families make in order for them to serve.
On other occasions, he’s mentioned specific gratitude for the work of sister missionaries and senior missionary couples.
8. Church Welfare program
Having seen the effect of the welfare program on those who needed it most while a Bishop, President Monson holds gratitude for the program.
When I presided as a very young bishop in Salt Lake City over a ward of 1,080 members, including 84 widows, there were many who needed assistance. How grateful I was for the welfare program of the Church and for the help of the Relief Society and the priesthood quorums.
Significantly, President Monson is grateful not just for the existence of the program but for the individual men and women who work to make it work in the lives of Latter-day Saints.
9. Humanitarian Aid
As Church President, President Monson has expressed gratitude for the Church’s humanitarian efforts many times. He called them out by name every year between 2008-2010.
I am deeply grateful that as a church we continue to extend humanitarian aid where there is great need. We have done much in this regard and have blessed the lives of thousands upon thousands of our Father’s children who are not of our faith as well as those who are. We intend to continue to help wherever such is needed. We express gratitude to you for your contributions in this regard.
On another occasion he expressed his gratitude to all the members of the Church who have assisted with humanitarian efforts.
It can be difficult while getting out of bed to be grateful for early-morning seminary. But President Monson looks back on his time in the program with fondness, and recognizes the important role it played in his spiritual growth.
How grateful I am for the opportunity I had as a teenager to attend early-morning seminary, for it played a vital role in my development and the development of my testimony. Seminary can change lives.
11. The Gospel
During nearly every general conference, President Monson expresses his gratitude for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the restoration that made it available to us.
How grateful we are for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and for all the good it brings into our lives. The Lord has poured out His blessings upon us as a people. I bear my testimony to you that this work is true, that our Savior lives, and that He guides and directs His Church here upon the earth.
12. Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ
There is perhaps nothing President Monson expresses his gratitude for more than his Heavenly Father and his Savior, Jesus Christ. Rarely does a single talk, let alone an entire conference, go by without him expressing his gratitude to and for Deity.
I believe that none of us can conceive the full import of what Christ did for us in Gethsemane, but I am grateful every day of my life for His atoning sacrifice in our behalf. . . . To the depths of my very soul, I am grateful to Him. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die. He secured our salvation.
While President Monson speaks often of prayer, it was during October 2011, that he zeroed in on his gratitude for prayer.
As I pulled it from the pocket, relief flooded over me. I offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude to my Father in Heaven, for I knew that He had answered my prayer. . . . I am always humbled and grateful when my Heavenly Father communicates with me through His inspiration.
Since the blessings of prayer are so readily available, it can be easy to take advantage of them without pausing to realize that prayer itself blesses us immensely.
The temple is one of the greatest sources of blessings in our lives. Accordingly, President Monson has expressed his gratitude for the temples of the Church, often while discussing the current state of temple building progress.
As I have indicated previously, no Church-built facility is more important than a temple, and we are pleased to have 139 temples in operation throughout the world, with 27 more announced or under construction. We are grateful for these sacred edifices and the blessings they bring into our lives.
As far as we have found, the only temple President Monson has specifically expressed gratitude for during general conference is the temple currently being built in Rome.
15. Plan of Salvation
President Monson is grateful for the plan of salvation. He has expressed gratitude specifically for the veil, agency, and other specific principles. Of course, he’s also grateful for the plan as a whole.
It is my prayer that in addition to all else for which we are grateful, we may ever reflect our gratitude for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His glorious gospel provides answers to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do our spirits go when we die? That gospel brings to those who live in darkness the light of divine truth.
16. Me and You
What else is President Monson grateful for? You. And me. All the members of the Church doing the work in each ward and branch. For our service and dedication. And our prayers for him.
My brothers and sisters, I thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel, for the love and care you show to one another, and for the service you provide in your wards and branches and stakes and districts. Thank you, as well, for your faithfulness in paying your tithes and offerings and for your generosity in contributing to the other funds of the Church.