As a young man, I enjoyed playing and having a good time as much as anybody. And when I turned 16, I loved going out on dates and hanging out with my friends. I enjoyed those activities a lot more than work.
But, like many of you, I did have a job. My father worked in the construction business, building homes, and he frequently enlisted my three brothers and me to help him. The work was hot and demanding; there were times when I really didn’t want to be working. But we had schedules to keep and projects to complete, so we worked hard each day until the job was done. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, working with my family taught me a number of lessons.
Building homes takes a lot of time, effort, and precision. One area where I thought we didn’t need to be as exacting was in digging the footings for a house. My father thought differently.
To lay the foundation for a home, you first have to dig and pour the footings. Footings are pads of concrete that are wider than the foundation. Once the footings are poured and cured, you pour the foundation on top of the footings. Then you backfill dirt over them.
I often wondered if it really mattered that the footings were perfectly square. After all, with dirt covering them, no one would ever see them, and it wouldn’t weaken the support structure of the home. But my father still wanted the footings square and flat, measured correctly and carefully, and he did this with every home he built.
Looking back, I realize that my father treated everything he did in his work with the same care, even for things the owner would never notice. His careful attention to detail meant that people could trust him to do good work, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that his work was the best quality and that the owners would appreciate it.
There may be times when no one but you and the Lord will know how well you did the work you needed to do. Rest assured that the Lord does know your effort. As you do your best, you will feel good about yourself, knowing that you have developed integrity, dependability, and useful skills.
Digging footings meant long, hot hours, and I have to admit, I didn’t always have a good attitude about it. Whenever my mother caught me complaining about having to work, she would say, “Watch out. You’re going to lose your blessing, and you have to work anyway!” (See D&C 58:28–29.) She was right. Complaining never took away the job; it just took away the satisfaction and many of the blessings of doing it.
I found that when I chose to listen to my mother and to do the work with a cheerful heart, the time passed much faster, the work itself was done better, and I was a whole lot happier than I had been when I was complaining. Attitude affects everything.
Serving a mission was a defining experience for me. I came to realize that no other work is more important than our Heavenly Father’s work, which is to bless the lives of us, His children: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
As you engage in Heavenly Father’s work to serve His children, you will find, as Alma did, great joy in being “an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is [your] joy” (Alma 29:9).
So who needs work? We all do! It’s the mother of self-reliance, achievement, and joy in this life. As you cheerfully engage in work, all those around you will reap a rich harvest because of the seeds you sow.
As you go about your week, I invite you to think about the lessons I learned and then try this experiment: the next time you are given a job to do, give it your best effort, have a cheerful attitude, and see what happens. You just might be surprised at how happy and good it makes you feel.