Work should be a positive part of life, counseled Elder David B. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, speaking at the Church Educational System Fireside on Sunday, March 6.
"Work is an eternal principle," Elder Sorensen told thousands of young adults in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus, as well as thousands more watching via satellite broadcast.
He said Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are our examples, as They worked to create the heavens and the earth. "But Their work did not end with the creation," he continued. "In the Pearl of Great Price we read, 'This is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man' (Moses 1:39).
"You and I also have a work to accomplish," he said. "Satan would tempt us to believe that our work is not worthwhile, or that we have no need to work at all. He is wrong on both counts."
While it is important to work to provide for the necessities of life, that is not the only reason, he said. Elder Sorensen quoted Elder Neal A. Maxwell, saying, "Work is always a spiritual necessity even if for some, work is not an economic necessity."
"Work is a family responsibility," and children should be taught to do their part in sharing the work of the family, Elder Sorensen said.
"Good work attitudes, habits, and skills are learned through successful work experiences," he pointed out, recalling, as an example, his work on the family ranch where he grew up. He talked about the constant need to milk the cows, morning and evening, every day. He learned that his father, who continued to milk cows into his late 80s, "didn't milk the cows because he had to; he milked them because they needed to be milked. . . . He wanted them to be contented. He always said that contented cows give good milk. To my father, milking cows, as unsophisticated as it may seem, was not an imposition; it was an opportunity. Milking was not a job for him; it was a service."
From that, Elder Sorensen said he learned that "honest work is honorable. Within a few years, I realized that routinely performing these chores actually began to give me a sense of confidence and empowerment. I took pride in my work. I found out no one could make me feel inferior about the kind of work that I did."
Then he stated, "Instead of thinking of our daily work as an imposition, we should think of it as an opportunity. . . . Think about it. If my father could find purpose in a few cows, surely each of us can find purpose in our work."
He used his wife as an example of the principle, "One of the best ways I know to enjoy life is by learning to love work." He said his wife, did things such as teach school, raise children, work in the PTA, care for a large household and teach the gospel, always finding great joy in the work she was doing.
Some people feel like they've gotten into a rut in their chosen job and unwisely start drifting from job to job, Elder Sorensen said.
"Once you have chosen your work, love it!" he emphasized. "No job is perfect. Every job has its challenges and its days of drudgery. Just like marriage, success and excellence at your work will likely require years and years of dedicated and persistent effort. . . . Focus on the career at hand and resist the temptation of wandering eyes. In fact, I am so bold as to say it doesn't matter so much what job you choose. I promise you that if you stick with it and pursue excellence in your chosen career, you will indeed enjoy a large measure of success and you will end up loving your work more than you might have imagined."
Adding more counsel, Elder Sorensen said, "First, work hard to get along with others. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Indeed, be a light, not a judge. . . . I realize that you may not please all of the people all of the time, but you can please most of the people most of the time, especially if one of those people is your boss. . . .
"Second, remember people seldom improve when they have only their own yardstick to measure themselves by. I can assure you that I have made more improvements in my life and in my business as a result of others' criticism rather than their praise. . . . When you hear such feedback, listen before you deny it. Evaluate it. Weigh it. . . .
"Third, be an optimist. Do not accept pessimism, especially when it is directed at you personally. Do not accept pessimistic statements about your Heavenly Father; consider their source, they come from Satan. Do not accept pessimistic statements about the leaders of this Church or the Church as an institution. It takes work to reject Satan's messages, but such work will lead to happiness."
He advised returned missionaries to maintain a high level of grooming and dress, even if it doesn't include a suit and tie. "Dress for success," he said. "Your personal habits reflect the cleanliness, dignity, and the principles of the gospel you taught as a young missionary."
To sum up, Elder Sorensen quoted two modern prophets. President David O. McKay: "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, and that love of work is success."
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner."
Elder Sorensen concluded, saying, "You, my dear young friends, are the hope of this Church. You are the hope of the communities where you live. You will become the future leaders of this Church, the future leaders of the communities of the world. I bear you my humble testimony that if you will work for our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, that He will bless you and watch over and keep you all of the days of your life."
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