President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, the current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is not a position he chose for himself. He did not apply for it. He did not attend school to learn how to be a prophet.
He did, however, prepare for this position, by the life he led. Swinton carefully describes this preparation. She provides details of his family, his childhood, his youth. She describes his hobbies (how did I not know about his Birmingham roller pigeons?), his education, his work.
The bulk of her book, however, focuses on President Monson's service - to the church, and to individuals. He served as a bishop; as a mission president; and then, beginning in 1963, as an apostle. In 1985, he became a counselor to the president of the church, and he continued in that role, for several presidents, until being sustained himself as president, in 2008. His assignments during those many years were varied, took him throughout the world, and gave him the background in church administration and organization that serves him so well today.
I appreciated this history. I enjoyed reading about his courtship with Frances; their time in the Canadian mission; his amazing experiences in East Germany (before the Berlin wall fell); his varied assignments as an Apostle. But I enjoyed even more the stories that show his care and concern for individuals, and the insights offered by those around him.
Typical is this comment by Elder David A Bednar:
In a message he gave to all of the General and Area Authorities, he said that one of our responsibilities is to help the members feel the Savior's love. That's who he is. His whole ministry is focused on discerning the needs of an individual and offering a smile or a pat on the back - doing some simple, very gracious thing that you never would really expect the President of the Church to do. (p 149)When the president of our church dies, and a new president is chosen, the general membership has the opportunity to sustain that new president at the next General Conference. When President Monson was sustained, I attended the Saturday morning broadcast and joined others in pledging my support for our new president and prophet.
Reading this book rekindled my desire not only to sustain him, but also to follow his counsel. As this book so clearly illustrates, he has dedicated his life both to serving God, and to serving his fellows here on earth. That's a pretty good role model.