Monday, May 24, 2021

President Thomas S. Monson on how to live greatly

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"All of us are prone to excuse our own mediocre performance. We blame our misfortunes, our disfigurements, or our so-called handicaps. Victims of our own rationalization, we say silently to ourselves: 'I'm just too weak,' or 'I'm not cut out for better things.' Others soar beyond our meager accomplishments. Envy and discouragement then take their toll. 
"Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever—this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves. 
"To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, 'How might we achieve these goals?' I answer, 'By getting a true perspective of who we really are!' We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that truth: 'Created in the image of God.' We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power, even the strength to live the commandments of God, the power to resist the temptations of Satan." 
- Thomas S. Monson, "Yellow Canaries with Gray on Their Wings," Ensign, July 1973
Click here to read the full talk
It's so easy to fall into the traps Pres. Monson describes—looking for a scapegoat for our shortcomings, doubting our personal abilities, comparing our performance or achievement to others around us. Each of those is self-defeating in our attempts to progress and reach our potential.

The real, final key to success in life is to truly understand who we are and what our divine potential is.
His reminders about personal progress are worth pondering; a better perspective is not only healthier as we encounter trials, but enables us to achieve far more than those self-limiting perspectives. Understanding our possibilities as sons and daughters of God brings "a profound new sense of strength and power" enabling us to truly reach our potential.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
January 12, 2015

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