Church News and Events

Viewpoint: A Job Done Right Yields Sweet Rewards

Contributed By From the Church News

  • 28 June 2013

Men haul a bale of hay in Neola, Utah. D&C 75:3 teaches: “Neither be idle but labor with your might.”  (c) 2013 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

A pair of Boy Scouts once met with a merit badge counselor while working to complete a challenging badge. The counselor reviewed the requirements of the merit badge and then asked for a progress report from the two Scouts.

One of the boys went down the list of requirements and demonstrated solid evidence that each had been dutifully met. The counselor congratulated the young man and promptly signed his familiar blue merit badge card.

The second boy’s report was far more vague. He had satisfied several of the merit badge requirements—but the veteran counselor recognized his efforts were incomplete. He suggested that the Scout take a few more weeks to work on the badge and then return and present an update on his progress.

The boy hesitated for a moment and then, sheepishly, asked if the counselor could sign his merit badge card before he finished the final two or three requirements. His Scout troop, he explained, would be holding a Court of Honor in the coming days and he needed to earn that merit badge before he could be awarded a coveted rank advancement. 

The Scout assured the counselor that he would finish the badge requirements in the days after he received the award. The counselor was sensitive to the boy’s excitement to receive the rank advancement—but he also knew that prematurely signing the merit badge card would bruise the integrity of the achievement. It would not be fair to the Scouting program—or to either of the Scouts who sat in front of him.

So the counselor again directed the boy to work on the remaining requirements and report back in a few weeks. The rank advancement would have to wait.

Credit that wise merit badge counselor for not sidestepping his expectations of the eager Scout. A valuable lesson was learned: a job’s not done until it’s done right.

The world is increasingly laden with “shortcuts.” Advertisements draw in would-be consumers with promises of easy solutions to difficult challenges. (“Get Rich Quick!” or “Lose 15 Pounds this Weekend!) But almost anything of value—including the priceless blessings of the gospel — is generally realized after a period of concentrated labor and effort.

As a boy, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a late member of the Quorum of the Twelve, learned from his father that the job done right yields sweet rewards.

“My father was loving but exacting,” he said. “He noted that while I worked hard, my work was often not carefully done. I was a stranger to excellence. One summer day I determined to please Dad by putting in a number of needed fence posts, firmly implanted and fully aligned. I worked hard all that day and then scanned the lane expectantly down which my father would walk home. When he arrived, I watched anxiously as he carefully inspected the fence posts, even checking them with a level bar before pronouncing them to be fully satisfactory. Then came his praise. My sweat of the brow had earned Dad’s commendation which, in turn, melted my heart.” 

Learning how to work, he added, “will give you an edge in life, and experience with excellence—a special edge (“Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,” Apr.1998 general conference).

Duty is hard work’s companion. The Lord admonished “every man to learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed in all diligence” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:99).

President Thomas S. Monson often speaks of his love “for the noble word ‘duty’ and all that it implies.”

In an April 2012 general conference address, the Church president taught that the call of duty came to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel and David:

“It came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and to each of his successors. The call of duty came to the boy Nephi when he was instructed by the Lord, through his father Lehi, to return to Jerusalem with his brothers to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Nephi’s brothers murmured, saying it was a hard thing which had been asked of them. What was Nephi’s response? Said he, I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

“When that same call comes to you and to me, what will be our response? Will we murmur, as did Laman and Lemuel, and say, This is a hard thing required of us? Or will we, with Nephi, individually declare, ‘I will go. I will do’? Will we be willing to serve and to obey?

“At times the wisdom of God appears as being foolish or just too difficult, but one of the greatest and most valuable lessons we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right” (“Willing and Worthy to Serve”.

Labor in the Lord’s cause can be counted among the most noble forms of work, he added.

“As we perform our duties and exercise our priesthood, we will find true joy. We will experience the satisfaction of having completed our tasks.

“We have been taught the specific duties of the priesthood which we hold, whether it be the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood. I urge you to contemplate those duties and then do all within your power to fulfill them. In order to do so, each must be worthy. Let us have ready hands, clean hands, and willing hands, that we may participate in providing what our Heavenly Father would have others receive from Him. If we are not worthy, it is possible to lose the power of the priesthood; and if we lose it, we have lost the essence of exaltation. Let us be worthy to serve.”

The Lord Himself has spoken plainly on the virtue and beauty of labor and duty:

“Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but labor with your might” (Doctrine and Covenants 75:3).