Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, frequently encourages the Mormons to do their duty. “I love, I cherish the noble word duty (Thomas S. Monson, “The Call of Duty,” Ensign, May 1986, 37). As a man who devoted his life to doing his duty to God and to the people around him, he has much to say on the subject. He is noted for his love of serving others, particularly the elderly widows he was responsible for watching over as a young bishop. Following are some of his best stories and thoughts on the subject of duty.
Let me share with you a lesson learned in childhood. Our family has owned a summer cabin at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon for five generations. The months of July and August for me meant hiking; fishing; and swimming daily at the swimming hole, featuring a big rock from which we dived, and maneuvering through the swift current which roared by it and formed dangerous whirlpools. Most swimmers would plunge into the icy waters and swim with the current, rapidly passing the big rock, and be eventually carried to the slower waters and the welcome bank of river sand. That is, all but one swimmer. His name was “Beef” Peterson. His swimsuit carried the emblem of “Life Saver,” and his physical body reflected great strength. Beef would, like others, swim rapidly down the current through the whirlpools, then suddenly turn and swim back upstream. For a few feet, his mighty strokes carried him forward, but then the swiftness of the current held him steady as he pitted his strength against that of the river. Gradually Beef would tire, drop back, and then swim effortlessly to the bank, exhausted. Swimming against the current became Beef Peterson’s trademark.
My brothers and sisters, I’m certain our duty and responsibility is frequently to swim upstream and against the tide of temptation and sin. As we do so, our spiritual strength will increase, and we shall be equal to our God-given responsibilities.
Thomas S. Monson, “Happiness—The Universal Quest,” Ensign, Oct 1993, 2
[This quote takes from the story of David and Goliath] Finally, let us choose the stone of LOVE OF DUTY. Duty is not merely to do the thing we ought to do, but to do it when we should, whether we like it or not.
Armed with this selection of five polished stones to be propelled by the mighty sling of faith, we need then but take the staff of virtue to steady us, and we are ready to meet the giant Goliath, wherever, and whenever, and however we find him.
Thomas S. Monson, “Meeting Your Goliath,” Ensign, Jan 1987, 2
On fast day, the ward members were visited by deacons and teachers so that each family could make a contribution. The deacons were a bit disgruntled, having to arise earlier than usual to fulfill this assignment.
The inspiration came for the bishopric to take a busload of the deacons and teachers to Welfare Square here in Salt Lake City. Here they saw needy children receiving new shoes and other items of clothing. Here they witnessed empty baskets being filled with groceries. There was no money exchanged. One brief comment was made: “Young men, this is what the money you collect on fast day provides—even food, clothing, and shelter.” The Aaronic Priesthood young men smiled more, stepped higher, and served with a willing mind in the filling of their assignments.
A question: is every ordained teacher given the assignment to home teach? What an opportunity to prepare for a mission. What a privilege to learn the discipline of duty. A boy will automatically turn from concern for self when he is assigned to “watch over” others.
And what of the priests? These young men have the opportunity to bless the sacrament, to continue their home teaching duties, and to participate in the sacred ordinance of baptism.
Thomas S. Monson, “The Priesthood—Mighty Army of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1999, 48