Sunday, February 13, 2011

Work and Personal Responsiblity

I teach in Relief Society at Church (I'm LDS) the 2nd Sunday of every month. This month the lesson I am teaching is on Work and Personal Responsibility. I know when I am doing research for my lessons, it always helps to read how someone else interpreted the material so I thought I would share my lessons every month. (keep in mind, this is more of an outline....)
"Work is always a spiritual necessity even if, for some, work is not an economic necessity"- Neal A. Maxwell.

Work is an eternal principle. What does that mean? It means work is something we carry with us forever, eternally, which means it is really important! We are actually commanded to work.
“Work brings happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. It is the means of all accomplishment; it is the opposite of idleness. We are commanded to work. Attempts to obtain our temporal, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being by means of a dole violate the divine mandate that we should work for what we receive. Work should be the ruling principle in the lives of our Church membership.” -Spencer W. Kimball
But what if we aren't physically capable of working? Good news! "Work" doesn't just mean physical labor, work is anything that we do mentally, spiritually or physically. In the Gospel Principle Manual (lesson 27) it says "there is no real division between spiritual, mental and physical work."
“As with any other commandment, there is joy in its keeping. To work—honestly and productively—brings contentment and a sense of self-worth. Having done all we can to be self-reliant, to provide for our own needs and those of our family, we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack.” –Bishop H. David Burton

Family Responsibility:  
Parents should work together to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their family. Creating a home where principles of the gospel are taught daily and where love and order abound is as important as providing the basic necessities of food and clothing.  What can we do as mothers, sisters, daughters and wives to teach work and personal responsibility in our homes? It is also our job to show the enjoyment that comes from working....

Enjoying our work:
There is a story by Kathleen Lubeck in the 1980 Ensign that I found inspiring. You can really tell this woman enjoys her work! She starts off by explaining she is single with no children and works in kind of like an advertisement setting with a whole bunch of men around her most of the time. This is a snippet from her story:
Part of my work entails writing, and one of the joys it brings is cool, fresh paper, smooth and clean, no bent edges. I like to touch it, smell it even. I like it in pastels, in pure whites, in boudoir blue; I like it onion-skin thin, solidly heavy, textured or slick. I like it in reams or in tiny slivers of small intent. I like to see it waiting to be written on. But most of all I like the feeding that happens when I touch a fountain pen to the paper, and watch the thin stream of black ink weaving across it. Creation! Thoughts sliding across a page, somehow becoming tangible even though they can be physically touched no other way. It’s a minor miracle bestowed upon mankind, and I can participate, and hope to all my life, married or single, half-dead or alive, when I’m 96 and raising plants.
(can you tell this woman enjoys her work?! How great would it be if we could all describe our work with this much joy!)
 She continues on:
What more can I say? Honest work is soul satisfying. I thirst to meet the creative challenges of my work now, just as I anticipate that same drive to meet the creative challenges of my own home and family, when my life plays into that stage. I find the most important challenge is to keep growing and learning and progressing, vision fixed to the example of the Savior in all that I do. To settle for anything less would be sleeping on the job.
I love how she describes work as a creative challenge. I think if we all looked at our work, whether it be selling something or changing diapers, as a creative challenge we would all find more joy in the work we're doing. 

God condemns idleness:

The Lord is not pleased with those who are lazy or idle. In Doctrine & Covenants 75:29 He said, “The idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways” 
When I read this I thought: well what about “me” time? What about relaxing time?  But then I realized, what I’m asking for isn’t idleness, what I’m asking for is “leisure” time...
“Leisure is not idleness. The Lord condemns idleness. He said, ‘Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent’ (D&C 60:13). Idleness in any form produces boredom, conflict, and unhappiness. It creates a vacancy of worth, a seedbed for mischief and evil. It is the enemy of progress and salvation” J. Richard Clarke
Reading that quote took me to another quote by President Brigham Young:
 “Recreation and diversion are as necessary to our well-being as the more serious pursuits of life. There is not a man in the world but what, if kept at any one branch of business or study, will become like a machine. Our pursuits should be so diversified as to develop every trait of character and diversity of talent”

Now that we can see the difference between idleness (bad) and leisure time (good!) how do we keep from being idle? Why is it important to keep a balance in life between work, recreation/leisure, and rest? What can we do to keep this balance and to teach our children?

The blessings of work:
“Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Work is a key to full joy in the plan of God. If we are righteous, we will return to live with our Heavenly Father, and we will have work to do. As we become like Him, our work will become like His work. His work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). 
“Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God.” D. Todd Christofferson 
What are some blessings that come from honest work?

When it comes right down to it, God seems to change us from the inside out. He asks us to do things that are hard for us, then as we struggle with these tasks, He gives us greater insight and strength so that we are capable of meeting the goal.  Work is a perfect example of this. The harder the work is, the stronger we get. God is helping mold us to be more like him and we get these blessings through the change that comes to us as we follow His principles. (found this on The Exponent website)

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