Last night, President Thomas S. Monson, 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died in his home surrounded by family and friends. Members of the Church around the world are mourning his passing, but they are not alone. President Monson had a profound influence on the Boy Scouts of America as a Scout, leader, and lifelong friend of Scouting. At his death, he was the longest-standing member of the National Executive Board, of which he had been a member for over 48 years.
President Monson spoke often of the influence Scouting had on his life and the lives of others. In a talk to young men and their fathers and leaders, he shared some thoughts on the value of Scouting:
“In this world where some misguided men and women strive to tear down and destroy great movements such as Scouting, I am pleased to stand firm for an organization that teaches duty to God and country, that embraces the Scout Law. Yes, an organization whose motto is ‘Be prepared’ and whose slogan is ‘Do a good turn daily.’
The Aaronic Priesthood prepares boys for manhood and the weightier duties of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Scouting helps our boys to walk uprightly the priesthood path to exaltation. Along that path there will be turns and detours, requiring decisions of utmost importance. Heavenly inspiration will provide a road map that will ensure the accuracy of our choices. There comes a time in the life of every young man for serious contemplation and wise evaluation concerning his future—for decisions determine destiny.”
On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God
President Monson devoted his life to doing his duty to God. Even before his ordination as an Apostle in 1963, President Monson volunteered much of his time to serve as a leader and teacher in the Church. In a video about his life, President Monson explained his attitude toward his duty to God:
“The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”
and my country
President Monson was also a firm believer in doing his duty to his country. He served as a member of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II. As a church leader, he worked with LDS welfare services to send relief to people across the nation (and world) who were in need of help.
and to obey the Scout Law;
As you read stories of President Monson’s life, it is easy to find instances where he is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. His is an example we can use to show our youth what living by the Scout Law really means and the kind of person you will become by doing so.
to help other people at all times;
President Monson may be the best example we’ve had this century of helping other people at all times. He was always looking for ways to serve and help others. In a talk about service, he shared these thoughts:
“The Savior taught His disciples, ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.’
I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives.”
to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
President Monson worked tirelessly for decades in an effort to make the world a better place. He was always physically, mentally, and morally tuned to the work of God on the earth.
As Scouters, we will miss President Monson and are so grateful for the way he changed the lives of generations of boys.
Author: Maria Milligan | Chief of Staff, Utah National Parks Council, BSA