Friend to Friend: Gospel of Work


Neal A. Maxwell

Gospel of Work

I was blessed with parents who, as devoted Church members, taught me many things about the gospel early in my life, including the importance of the gospel of work. They were both hard workers and tried to save what money they had. They did not spend much on themselves, but used it to bless their children. It was easy for me to learn to like work because I had parents who worked without complaining.

My father was a bookkeeper and my mother had her housework to do. My sisters and I each had our own chores, but there was still some time for us to play. As we grew older, there was more work to do and more responsibility. There were times when I did not want to work because I would rather play, but it was a healthy life for me both physically and spiritually.

We lived on a little farm and had some ducks, chickens, lambs, several cows, and quite a few pigs. It helped our family to produce some of the things we ate so that we did not have to buy everything at the store. There were small gardens to be weeded and watered and fruit trees to be pruned and fruit to be picked.

My parents wisely gave me another good reason for working hard. I was allowed to keep some of the money I earned from the sale of the animals and fruits. They also had me keep records for my 4-H project, which was raising pigs, so that I could tell how much money I was making or losing. This was a good experience for me in learning about what things cost.

Because my pigs were purebreds, I used to take them to county and state fairs and to livestock shows to exhibit them. The pigs had to be scrubbed clean before every show. But it was worth the extra work.

Each time I won first, second, or third prize and got a colored ribbon my parents would pin it on a white sheet until one day the sheet was full of them. It was a real thrill when I got my first purple champion ribbon.

As I look back on those years, it was good that I was kept busy and that work was something expected of me. I do not believe people can be happy unless they have work to do. One can really be more of a slave to idleness than to work. Work also keeps us humble and reminds us of how all our blessings come to us from our Heavenly Father.

Those who don’t like to work need to ask themselves this question: “If I do not work, whose responsibility is it to provide for me?” Heavenly Father has fairly said that the person who is idle should not eat the bread of the worker. In today’s world, however, many people think that others have a responsibility to take care of those who are idle or lazy. This is not what Jesus Christ teaches, however. We are to work and to share, but we must not be lazy and then expect others to share with us.

When we work we are less likely to waste things, and waste is a real problem in some families and countries. The person who is a hard worker is also more likely to share what he has with those who are truly poor and needy.

The gospel of work is a very important teaching of the Church. If we learn to work early in life we will be better individuals, better members of families, better neighbors, and better disciples of Jesus Christ, who Himself learned to work as a carpenter. I have seen the place in Nazareth where carpenters and tradesmen still work, I am told, much as they did when Jesus lived as a boy. Those carpenters’ shops and stalls are very humble, but there Jesus learned a great deal that helped Him do the special work He had to do.

Of course we should not work just for show. We work to provide the basic things we need in life—food, clothing, and shelter. We work to be happy. We work to serve our fellowmen.

We need to know how to work for another reason: even our Heavenly Father’s work is really work! There won’t be any lazy people in heaven. They would not be happy there anyway, because there will always be so much to do.

If we learn to work now, we will not only be happier in this world but in the world to come, for work is one way we can show our love for others.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Ted Nagata