In October 2012, President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was nostalgic at the beginning of his Sunday morning general conference address.
"My beloved brothers and sisters, this conference marks 49 years since I was sustained on Oct. 4, 1963, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Forty-nine years is a long time," he said, prompting some laughter. "In many ways, however, the time seems very short since I stood at the pulpit in the Tabernacle and gave my very first general conference address."
Following the October 2012 general conference, the Deseret News compiled a list of 49 memorable quotes from President Monson's 49 years of service in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
The October 2015 general conference marked the beginning of President Monson's 53rd year of service. This list has been updated to include quotes from each of these additional years.
Note: The accompanying photos from the Deseret News archive are circa the year of the quote.
"My sincere prayer today, President McKay, is that I might always obey you and these, my brethren. I pledge my life, all that I may have. I will strive to the utmost of my ability to be what you want me to be. I am grateful for the words of Jesus Christ, our Savior, when he said: 'I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him.'"
- Oct. 12, 1963, LDS Church News
"The rich satisfactions which come from loving our neighbor as ourselves are not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets but rather the satisfaction grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have it. "
- "America Needs You," Oct. 10, 1964, LDS Church News
"There are men and women everywhere who would be made better by our helping hand. They may be our neighbors, our friends, our business associates. All are our brothers and sisters."
- "The Precious Gift of Sight," Conference Report, April 1965
"Like a bright searchlight of truth, his gospel will direct our journey along the pathways of life. Oh, how blessed are we to have this never dimming, always glowing hope and the eternal knowledge that belongs to us and that we share with the world: that the gospel has been restored to earth, that God lives, that Jesus is his Son, our elder brother, our mediator with the Father, our Lord and our Savior, God's greatest gift to us."
- "God's Gifts to Polynesia's People," Conference Report, October 1966
"The battle for our immortal souls is no less important than the battle fought by David. The enemy is no less formidable, the help of Almighty God no farther away. What will our action be? Like David of old, 'our cause is just.' We have been placed upon earth not to fail or fall victim to temptation's snare, but rather to succeed. Our giant, our Goliath, must be conquered.
"Should there be a Goliath in our lives or a giant called by any other name, we need not 'flee' or be 'sore afraid' as we go up to battle against him. Rather we can find assurance and divine help in that inspired psalm of David: 'The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want ...'"
- "Meet Your Goliath," Conference Report, October 1967
"So often the call to serve is not accompanied by the sound of a marching band, the cheering crowd, or the applause of those whose favor is deemed so great. Such distractions were not to be found on Damascus' way, in Palmyra's grove, on Moriah's mount, in Gethsemane's garden, nor atop Golgotha's hill."
- "The Miracle of the Friendly Islands," Conference Report, October 1968
"Death leaves in its cruel wake shattered dreams, unfulfilled ambitions, crushed hopes. In our helplessness, we turn to others for assurance. Men of letters and leaders of renown can express their beliefs, but they cannot provide definitive answers.
"The dim light of belief must yield to the noonday sun of revelation. We turn backward in time, that we might go forward with hope. Back, back beyond the silent generation, the beat generation, the lost generation. Back, back beyond the Space Age, the Computer Age, the Industrial Age. Back, back to him who walked the dusty paths of villages we now reverently call the Holy Land, to him who caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dead to live, to him who tenderly and lovingly assured us, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6)."
- "Mrs. Patton, Arthur Lives," Conference Report, April 1969
"The goal of gospel teaching today, as emphasized in the teacher development program, is not to 'pour information' into the minds of class members. It is not to show how much the teacher knows, nor is it merely to increase knowledge about the church. The basic goal of teaching in the church is to help bring about worthwhile changes in the lives of boys and girls, men and women. The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles."
- "Thou Art a Teacher Come From God," Conference Report, October 1970
"The Master frequently spoke of hand and heart. ... As I ponder his words, I can almost hear the shuffle of sandaled feet, the murmurs of astonishment from listeners as they echo from Capernaum’s peaceful scene. Here multitudes crowded around Jesus, bringing the sick to be healed. A palsied man picked up his bed and walked, and a Roman centurion’s faith restored his servant’s health.
"Not only by precept did Jesus teach, but also by example. He was faithful to his divine mission. He stretched forth his hand that others might be lifted toward God."
- "With Hand and Heart," general conference, October 1971
"Ever shall I remember the hand of one mother — the mother of a missionary. Some years ago at a worldwide seminar for mission presidents, the parents of missionaries were invited to meet and visit briefly with each mission president. Forgotten are the names of each who extended a greeting and exchanged a friendly handshake. Remembered are the feelings which welled up within me as I took in my hand the calloused hand of one mother from Star Valley, Wyo. 'Please excuse the roughness of my hand,' she apologized. 'Since my husband has been ill, the work of the farm has been mine to do, that our boy may, as a missionary, serve the Lord.'
"Tears could not be restrained, nor should they have been. Such tears produce a certain cleansing of the soul. A mother’s labor sanctified a son’s service. Loved are the hands of a mother."
- "Hands," general conference October 1972
"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."
- "Yellow Canaries with Gray on Their Wings," general conference, April 1973
"We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.
"In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality.
"I would hope that we would walk as he walked — with confidence in the future, with an abiding faith in his Father and a genuine love for others."
- "The Paths Jesus Walked," general conference, April 1974
"To you, my little friend in the upper balcony, and to believers everywhere, I bear witness that Jesus of Nazareth does love little children, that he listens to your prayers and responds to them. The Master did indeed utter those words, 'Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.' (Mark 10:14.)"
- "The Faith of a Child," general conference, October 1975
"The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth."
- "Hopeless Dawn — Joyful Morning," general conference, April 1976
"No member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who has canned peas, topped beets, hauled hay or shoveled coal in such a cause ever forgets or regrets the experience of helping provide for those in need. Devoted men and women help to operate this vast and inspired (welfare) program. In reality, the plan would never succeed on effort alone, for this program operates through faith after the way of the Lord."
- "The Way of the Lord," general conference, October 1977
"True, today is a new day with new trials, new troubles and new temptations, but hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint youth strive constantly and serve diligently, true to the faith, as their counterparts of earlier years so nobly did. Because the contrast between good and evil is so stark, the exceptions to the prevailing trends are magnified, observed and appreciated by decent persons throughout the world."
- "Profiles of Faith," general conference, April 1978
"The priesthood represents a mighty army of righteousness — even a royal army. We are led by a prophet of God. In supreme command is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our marching orders are clear. They are concise. Matthew describes our challenge in these words from the Master: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
"'Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' (Matt. 28:19–20.)"
- "The Army of the Lord," general conference, April 1979
"Some may inquire: What is the significance of the Aaronic Priesthood for which such preparation takes place? Is it all that important in the life of a boy? The Priesthood of Aaron 'is an appendage to the … Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances' (D&C 107:14)."
- "Preparing the Way," general conference, April 1980
“He is not here: for he is risen” (Matt. 28:6).
"This is the clarion call of Christendom. The reality of the resurrection provides to one and all the peace that surpasses understanding. (See Philip. 4:7.) It comforts those whose loved ones lie in Flanders fields, who perished in the depths of the sea or rest in tiny Santa Clara or peaceful Heber Valley. It is a universal truth."
- "He is Risen," general conference, April 1981
"Like the vital rudder of a ship, we have been provided a way to determine the direction we travel. The lighthouse of the Lord beckons to all as we sail the seas of life. Our home port is the celestial kingdom of God. Our purpose is to steer an undeviating course in that direction. A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder — never likely to reach home port. To us comes the signal: Chart your course, set your sail, position your rudder and proceed."
- "Sailing Safely the Seas of Life," general conference, April 1982
"Like a golden thread woven through the tapestry of life is the message on the label of a humble heart. ... May it ever be the label which identifies each of us: 'Lord, here am I.'"
- "Labels," general conference, October 1983
"In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, Dec. 27, 1832, the Master counseled: 'Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God' (D&C 88:119).
"Where could any of us locate a more suitable blueprint whereby we could wisely and properly build a house to personally occupy throughout eternity?"
- "Building Your Eternal Home," general conference, April 1984
"Today, the challenge which we face and must meet is not that we should go forth on the battlefield of war and lay down our lives. Rather, it is that we, on the battlefield of life, so live and serve that our lives and actions reflect a true love of God, of His Son, Jesus Christ, and of our fellowmen. This is not accomplished by clever signs printed on bumper stickers affixed to automobiles."
- "Those Who Love Jesus," general conference, October 1985
"Life’s journey is not traveled on a freeway devoid of obstacles, pitfalls and snares. Rather, it is a pathway marked by forks and turnings. Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is needed: the courage to say no, the courage to say yes. Decisions do determine destiny."
- "Courage Counts," general conference, October 1986
"We are a missionary-minded people. We have a divine mandate to proclaim the message of the Restoration. You young men here this night are on the threshold of your missionary opportunity. That energetic missionary from the Book of Mormon, even Alma, provides for us a blueprint for missionary conduct: 'This is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy' (Alma 29:9).
"I add my personal witness: Our missionaries are not salesmen with wares to peddle; rather, they are servants of the Most High God, with testimonies to bear, truths to teach and souls to save."
- "Missionary Memories," general conference, October 1987
"Brethren, let’s take the necessary steps to rekindle sportsmanship, to emphasize participation, and to strive for the development of a Christlike character in each individual."
- "Goal Beyond Victory," general conference, October 1988
"Brethren, the Lord knows each of us. Do you think for a moment that He who notes the sparrow’s fall would not be mindful of our needs and our service? We simply cannot afford to attribute to the Son of God the same frailties which we find in ourselves."
- "The Service That Counts," general conference, October 1989
"To help ... all youth prepare for their service to God, a new booklet, entitled 'For the Strength of Youth,' has been published under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. The booklet features standards from the writings and teachings of church leaders and from scriptures, adherence to which will bring the blessings of our Heavenly Father and the guidance of His Son to each of us."
- "That We May Touch Heaven," general conference, October 1990
"What power, what tenderness, what compassion did our Master and Exemplar thus demonstrate! We, too, can bless if we will but follow His noble example. Opportunities are everywhere. Needed are eyes to see the pitiable plight and ears to hear the silent pleadings of a broken heart. Yes, and a soul filled with compassion, that we might communicate not only eye to eye or voice to ear but, in the majestic style of the Savior, even heart to heart."
- "Never Alone," general conference, April 1991
"Learn what we should learn. Do what we should do. Be what we should be. By so doing, the blessings of heaven will attend. We will know that we do not serve alone. He who notes the sparrow’s fall will, in His own way, acknowledge our service."
- "To Learn, To Do, To Be," general conference, April 1992
"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.
"Tonight in this vast priesthood audience are those who have successfully navigated the pathways of their youth. Such men of experience and faith are needed as examples for those who look to them for guidance and safety. Brethren, are we prepared for our leadership opportunity — even our life-saving privilege? The need for our help is here and now."
- "The Upward Reach," general conference, October 1993
"Should you or I have erred or spoken harshly to another, it is good to take steps to straighten out the matter and to move onward with our lives. 'He (who) cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for every one has need to be forgiven.'"
- "Mercy — The Divine Gift," general conference, April 1994
"As bearers of the priesthood, all of us united as one can qualify for the guiding influence of our Heavenly Father as we pursue our respective callings. We are engaged in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We, like those of olden times, have answered His call. We are on His errand. We shall succeed in the solemn charge given by Mormon to declare the Lord’s word among His people. He wrote: 'Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life' (3 Nephi 5:13)."
- "Who Honors God, God Honors," general conference, October 1995
"Brethren, ours is the opportunity to learn, the privilege to obey, and the duty to serve. In our time there are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire and souls to save."
- "Be Thou an Example," general conference, October 1996
"Let us, with faith unwavering and with love unstinting, be bridge builders to the hearts of those with whom we labor."
- "They Will Come," general conference, April 1997
"There is a battle of significant consequence taking place in the lives of young men today. In simple terms, it is the struggle between doing right or doing wrong."
- "In Harm's Way," general conference, April 1998
"The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift and an opportunity to bless the lives of others."
- "Priesthood Power," general conference, October 1999
"Let us consider our callings, let us reflect on our responsibilities, let us determine our duty, and let us follow Jesus Christ our Lord."
- "Your Eternal Voyage," general conference, April 2000
"May we live so that when that final summons is heard, we may have no serious regrets, no unfinished business"
- "Now is the Time," general conference, October 2001
"Let us, as a mighty body of priesthood, be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Let us pray, then let us go and do."
- "They Pray and They Go," general conference, April 2002
"We can, with the Lord’s help, reach out and rescue those for whom we have responsibility."
- "Bring Him Home," general conference, October 2003
"Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval."
- "The Call for Courage," general conference, April 2004
"May we incorporate into our own lives the divine principles which (Joseph Smith) so beautifully taught — by example — that we, ourselves, might live more completely the gospel of Jesus Christ."
- "The Prophet Joseph Smith: Teacher by Example," general conference, October 2005
"The priesthood is not really so much a gift as it is a commission to serve, a privilege to lift and an opportunity to bless the lives of others."
- "Our Sacred Priesthood Trust," general conference, April 2006
"Times may change, circumstances may alter, but the marks of a true holder of the priesthood of God remain constant."
- "A Royal Priesthood," general conference, October 2007
"It is our duty to live our lives in such a way that we may be examples of righteousness."
- "Examples of Righteousness," general conference, April 2008
"If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry."
- "School Thy Feelings, O My Brother," general conference, October 2009
"When you were confirmed a member of the church, you received the right to the companionship of the Holy Ghost. He can help you make good choices. When challenged or tempted, you do not need to feel alone. Remember that prayer is the passport to spiritual power."
- "Preparation Brings Blessing," general conference, April 2010
"Communication with our Father in heaven — including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us — is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life."
- "Stand Ye in Holy Places," general conference, October 2011
“Our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives.”
- "Consider the Blessings," general conference, October 2012
“Home teaching answers many prayers and permits us to see the transformations which can take place in people’s lives.”
- "True Shepherds," general conference, October 2013
“The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and his words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.”
- "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet," general conference, October 2014
“As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives. … As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. … Such peace can permeate any heart—hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help. … As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace. … The blessings of the temple are priceless.”
- "Blessings of the Temple," general conference, April 2015