Joseph and his brother eagerly dug potatoes out of the moist ground. Food had been scarce for many months in the little Smith home, and for days there had been nothing to eat but nettle greens, and thistle or sego roots. Now as they worked, they could almost taste the fluffy white vegetable mounds they were certain their mother would prepare for the family. Maybe there would even be butter to go with the potatoes!
Just as they finished, the boys’ mother told them that the best potatoes should be loaded into a wagon and taken to the tithing office. The boys, who had already learned that their mother could not be talked out of doing what she felt was right, silently loaded the wagon. They carefully selected the best potatoes for tithing and saved the others for their own use.
Years later when Joseph became the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he vividly remembered the incident and told it in these words:
“I was a little boy at the time and drove the team. When we drove up to the steps of the tithing office, ready to unload the potatoes, one of the clerks came over and said to my mother, ‘Widow Smith, it’s a shame that you should have to pay tithing.’
“He said a number of other things, too, and then my mother turned on him and said, ‘William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me. I pay my tithing not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing so. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper and to be able to provide for my family.’”
One day while Elder LeGrand Richards was Presiding Bishop of the Church, he met a young boy carrying a large odd-shaped pumpkin. Bishop Richards asked the boy what he planned to do with it.
“I’m going to give it to my bishop as tithing on the crop I have raised all by myself,” the boy replied.
Bishop Richards asked the boy’s name and then talked with him about the blessings that come to us as we pay our tithing because we are sharing with others.
A few days later as Bishop Richards was leaving the regional storehouse in Salt Lake City, he saw an old couple loading their small wagon with supplies from the storehouse. Looking more closely, Bishop Richards saw the boy’s pumpkin in their wagon. Its large size and odd shape made it easily recognizable.
Imagine the boy’s surprise when a short time later he received a letter from Bishop Richards telling him of the joy his pumpkin had brought to this grateful couple. They now had something special for their holiday dinner because a young boy was happy to pay his tithing.