Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons, is noted for his compassion and service. Kindness, civility, and encouragement are hallmarks of his talks to members. Following are some of his thoughts and stories about using words to uplift and serve others.
First, be an example in word. “Let your words tend to edifying one another,” 12 said the Lord.
Do we remember the counsel of a favorite Sunday School hymn?
Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.
Consider the observation of Mary Boyson Wall, who married Don Harvey Wall in the Salt Lake Temple in 1913. They celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary shortly before Don died at age 103, preceding her in death. In a Church News article she attributed longevity in life and in their marriage to speaking kind words. She said, “I think that helped us through because we [tried] to help each other and not say unkind words to each other.”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Master’s Blueprint,” Ensign, Jan 2006, 2–7
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted, until that day when they’re gone from our lives and we are left with feelings of “what if” and “if only.” Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 84–87
As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others. This noble transition is exemplified by an entry dated 24 December 1847, in the pioneer diary of Mrs. Rebecca Riter. She describes that first Christmas in the valley of the Great Salt Lake: “The winter was cold. Christmas came and the children were hungry. I had brought a peck of wheat across the plains and hid it under a pile of wood. I thought I would cook a handful for the baby. Then I thought how we would need wheat for seed in the spring, so I left it alone.”
We are prone to say, “Oh, those were difficult times, times of stress and trial,” and they were. But I would also reply, “These times in which we live are also difficult times in their own way.” There is no shortage of opportunities to forget self and think of others. Such opportunities, however limitless they may be, are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.
Thomas S. Monson, “In Search of the Christmas Spirit,” Ensign, Dec 1987, 3
e have no way of knowing when our privilege to extend a helping hand will unfold before us. The road to Jericho that each of us travels bears no name, and the weary traveler who needs our help may be one unknown.
Genuine gratitude was expressed by the writer of a letter received some time ago at Church headquarters. No return address was shown, no name, but the postmark was from Portland, Oregon:
“To the Office of the First Presidency:
“Salt Lake City showed me Christian hospitality once during my wandering years.
“On a cross-country journey by bus to California, I stepped down in the terminal in Salt Lake City, sick and trembling from aggravated loss of sleep caused by a lack of necessary medication. In my headlong flight from a bad situation in Boston, I had completely forgotten my supply.
“In the Temple Square Hotel restaurant, I sat dejectedly. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple approach my table. ‘Are you all right, young man?’ the woman asked. I raised up, crying and a bit shaken, related my story and the predicament I was in then. They listened carefully and patiently to my nearly incoherent ramblings, and then they took charge. They spoke with the restaurant manager, then told me I could have all I wanted to eat there for five days. They took me next door to the hotel desk and got me a room for five days. Then they drove me to a clinic and saw that I was provided with the medications I needed—truly my basic lifeline to sanity and comfort.
“While I was recuperating and building my strength, I made it a point to attend the daily Tabernacle organ recitals. The celestial voicing of that instrument from the faintest intonation to the mighty full organ is the most sublime sonority of my acquaintance. I have acquired albums and tapes of the Tabernacle organ and the choir which I can rely upon anytime to soothe and buttress a sagging spirit.
“On my last day at the hotel, before I resumed my journey, I turned in my key; and there was a message for me from that couple: ‘Repay us by showing gentle kindness to some other troubled soul along your road.’ That was my habit, but I determined to be more keenly on the lookout for someone who needed a lift in life.
“I wish you well. I don’t know if these are indeed the ‘latter days’ spoken of in the scriptures, but I do know that two members of your church were saints to me in my desperate hours of need. I just thought you might like to know.”
What an example of caring compassion.
Thomas S. Monson, “The Gift of Compassion,” Ensign, Mar 2007, 4–10