Friend to Friend

From an interview with Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy, currently serving as President of the North America West Area, as assistant executive director of the Curriculum Department of the Church, and as a member of the Church Scriptures Committee; by Kellene Ricks

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    Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord … that he may bestow upon you a blessing (Ex. 32:29).

    Elder Gene R. Cook

    It’s important to obey the commandments and do what the Lord wants you to do. I learned this at a fairly young age.

    When I was eleven years old, I began a paper route and was amazed at the amount of money I made. It was hard work, but I enjoyed it and was still delivering papers six years later.

    One day the manager of the newspaper, as a result of my loyalty to the paper, offered me a job as assistant manager of circulation for the newspaper. My duties would include supervising other newspaper carriers and helping them sell subscriptions. In addition, every day after school and after delivering my route, I would spend a few hours at the office, answering complaints on the telephone. Between phone calls, I would be allowed to do my homework. The new job would include a raise—triple what I had been making as a newspaper carrier!

    I was thrilled. I had been saving money for my mission, and many of my friends didn’t even have jobs. I really felt that the Lord was blessing me for keeping the commandments, including paying my tithing faithfully and keeping the Sabbath day holy.

    A year and a half later, the manager approached me again. Plans were being made to begin a Sunday edition of the newspaper. He indicated with some enthusiasm that I would be able to deliver my papers early on Sunday morning, then come into the office to answer the telephone from 7:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. There would, of course, be another pay increase.

    The manager saw that I was hesitating. Knowing that I was an active member of the Church, he said, “You may be thinking of not accepting this extra responsibility, but if you don’t take the job, you’ll lose your regular paper route and your weekday job. Many of the other paperboys would give their right arms to have your job. If you don’t take it, you’re fired.”

    As I went home that day, I was discouraged and confused. I knew that I had been obeying the commandments, and I couldn’t understand why I would have to make such a difficult decision. I talked to my father and to my bishop, but they both indicated that the decision was up to me. My dad said, “I don’t know the answer, but I know someone who does (meaning the Lord). Ask Him.”

    After I prayed and struggled for two days, I knew what I had to do. I knew that while there are some people who have to work on Sunday, I didn’t have to and shouldn’t. When I told the manager of my decision, he was angry, told me I was fired and to come in Saturday to pick up my last paycheck, then stomped away. For the next several days, he hardly spoke to me. I really wondered if I had made a correct decision, as it would have a direct impact on the finances for my mission.

    When I went to pick up my last check, I found the manager waiting for me. “Please forgive me,” he said. “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have tried to make you go against your beliefs and break a commandment of the Lord. (He was an inactive member of the Church.) I have found another young man who is willing to work on Sunday. You can keep your job. Will you?” He then added. “You will find in your check next week and for as long as you work for me the amount of money you would have received had you worked on Sunday.”

    Of course I did keep the job. I felt great joy that afternoon as I went home. I know that the Lord blesses us for keeping His commandments and doing what we know we should. Be careful that you never compromise the principles that you believe in. Remember to always trust in the Lord, and He will bless you for it.

    When he was eleven years old, Elder Cook began delivering papers.