I want you to know and understand how much I enjoyed this book. Thomas S. Monson was called to be an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1963 when I was nine years old. He has been an inspiration to me my entire life. His talks and stories and example have always encouraged me to do better, which is exactly what he intends to accomplish with his work. He simply wants us to understand that we can be better and wants us to make the choice to do what it takes to accomplish that choice. His example demonstrates that the direct path to accomplishing what we say we want to be lies through selfless service. No, it doesn't have to be anything dramatic or even far reaching. We simply have to look and see the need around us where we are, heed the voice of the Spirit, and reach out to help; to rescue the one right in front of us.
Having lived through the growth of the Church and having served a mission in Australia way back from 1973-1975, I found it fascinating to read about the way the church adapted to the growth and how the leaders carried on their duties while finding more effective ways to accomplish the Lord's purposes while retaining the revealed structure of the Priesthood.
Of course, the book is filled with stories of the people President Monson has met and served and rescued throughout his life. The accounts of his work behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany, Poland and other nations under Communist rule are nothing short of amazing. How can we in the West, who have so much, ever give space in our hearts to complain, when the saints who had nothing accomplished so much against such steep odds?
For me, the most powerful lesson from President Monson's life is his amazing ability to hear, see, and do the work of the Spirit in what I would likely overlook as just ordinary experiences. He turns these everyday events and occurrences into miracles in the lives of everyone involved. I think that he wants us to understand that we can do the same thing if we will only 1) look for opportunities to serve, 2) put ourselves in those situations to serve, 3) immediately heed the promptings of the Spirit, and 4) be the eyes, hands, and voice of the Lord to rescue, lift, and heal in every situation.
I note that this is much easier typed out than done. Nevertheless we have the life of President Monson as a glowing example (along with the lives of many other spiritual leaders) to show us that it CAN be done and that we CAN participate in such blessings. The question is simply, will we?
Each chapter begins with a quote from the people who have worked most closely with him during his 50 years as an Apostle. And each chapter is filled not only with the programs, activities, and changes President Monson helped create and carry out as one of the Brethren, but how these policies, procedures, and programs affect the real lives of everyday members of the church. At one point he is urging the importance of carrying out the audits and seeing that the proper procedures of the handling of the sacred funds donated to the church are enacted carefully and thoroughly because it affects the lives of people. One brother succumbed to the pressures of his life and embezzled funds from the church and the shame of that followed was so great he committed suicide and left a family behind. So, something as seemingly dry and remote and audits is shown to be something that can bless and help the lives of those called to service.
President Monson is an inspiration to me. I realize that I do not know him and that if I were around him each day, I would see his mortal failings and limitations that everyone has. However, I hazard to guess that mine are many many times greater than his. I aspire to become more like what his life teaches us about the mission and Gospel of the Savior, Jesus Christ and the proper exercise of the Priesthood and its keys.
I urge you to get this book and carefully read it. It is delightful, inspiring, and informative.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI.