Work is an eternal principle, meaning that we will have work to do in the hereafter just as we have work to do here in mortality. We know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ work because the Son under the direction of the Father created the heavens and the earth, created the sun, moon and stars and hung them in the sky, divided the water from the land, planted or otherwise caused grass, herbs, and trees to grow, and then created Adam and Eve.
We also know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ work because the Savior told us. He said: “My father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17) and “I must work the works of him that sent me” (John 9:4).
God ordained the principle of work when He said to Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). Adam and Eve worked and taught their children to work; they provided their own food and clothing as well as other needs (see Moses 5:1).
One of the Ten Commandments given to ancient Israel is the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9). This commandment was renewed with the Nephites on the American continents and to the Restored Church.
In fact, the Lord told the Latter-day Saints that He was “not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:31). His prophet Heber J. Grant said, “Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3).
There is work to do in the Church and in the family. The Lord clearly divided the work and responsibilities in the home. He expects able-bodied husbands to provide the necessities of life for his wife and children – shelter, food, etc. He expects the wife to care for the home and children and make the home a beautiful, loving, and orderly place for the family to gather and live. He also expects parents to teach their children to work by giving them assignments according to their abilities and praise for their successes. We know that good work attitudes, habits and skills are learned in the home when properly taught by loving parents.
Wise parents teach their children to learn to love work. Not all work is enjoyable, but we can learn to enjoy whatever work is ours to do. We can also help others with their work and receive the joy of service.
The following story shows that our attitude toward work determines how we feel about it. “A traveler passed a stone quarry and saw three men working. He asked each man what he was doing. Each man’s answer revealed a different attitude toward the same job. `I am cutting stone,’ the first man answered. The second replied: `I am earning three gold pieces per day.’ The third man smiled and said: `I am helping to build a house of God.’” (See Gospel Principles, p. 130.)
King Benjamin, a Nephite prophet, explained, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:17). Even if we are only providing for the necessities of life for our own family, we are doing service.
We should all look for the proper balance between work, rest and relaxation. An old adage states that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Of course, we cannot play all the time; we cannot know the value of rest and relaxation if we do not work first.
We know that it is pleasant to rest and relax; we know rest is necessary to keep our bodies healthy. We also know that God has given us a weekly day of rest and we are commanded to use the day appropriately. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
“But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day…. (Exodus 20:9-11).
We are commanded to rest on the seventh day each week, and we are wise if we take some “down time” each day to rest and recuperate from our labors. We can do this by visiting with family or friends, enjoying music or hobbies, reading, recreating, or doing any other activity that will refresh us.
When the Lord commanded Adam to work to provide his daily bread, He did not divide spiritual, mental and physical work. We must work in order to grow, to develop character, and to provide satisfaction. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The happiest man is he who has toiled hard and successfully in his life work. The work may be done in a thousand different ways: with the brain or the hands, in the study, the field, or the workshop; if it is honest work, honestly done and well worth doing, that is all we have a right to ask” (Theodore Roosevelt, A Nation of Pioneers, quoted by Richard L. Evans, Improvement Era, Nov. 1963, p. 984, and Gospel Principles, p. 132).
President David O. McKay said, “Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success” (quoted by Franklin D. Richards, “The Gospel of Work,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1969, p. 103, and Gospel Principles, p. 132).
Father Lehi told his posterity: “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). We obtain this joy by working for it. We can become like Heavenly Father and return to live with Him. As we become more like Him, our work will become more like the work He does. The Lord told Moses, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Heavenly Father desires that all His children contribute to His work. He has called all of us to help Him bring immortality and eternal life to His children. The Savior did His part, and I am trying to do my part in my sphere of influence. How are you doing in your sphere of influence?