From the Vault: Bishop J. Richard Clarke's 'The Value of Work'

On Saturday, April 3, 1982, it was announced during general conference that Church membership had surpassed the 5 million mark, with 19 temples around the world and another 21 in planning or under construction.

That same day, during the early morning welfare session (welfare sessions were discontinued following the 1982 October general conference), Bishop J. Richard Clarke, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke on the importance and blessing of hard work within the lives of Church members.

Like this story? Read a summary of Liz Wiseman's "The Power of Not Knowing" here.

“Work is a blessing from God,” Bishop Clarke said as he began his discourse. “It is a fundamental principle of salvation, both spiritual and temporal.”

Pulling from history as far back as Adam down to Church members attending the general conference session, Bishop Clarke talked about the importance of hard work in God’s eternal plan for progression.

Referencing Moses 4:23, Bishop Clarke said: “Note carefully the words: ‘Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake’, that is, for his good or benefit. It would not be easy to master the earth; but that was his challenge and his blessing, as it is ours.”

He continued: “We are co-creators with God. He gave us the capacity to do the work He left undone, to harness the energy, mine the ore, transform the treasures of the earth for our good. But most important, the Lord knew that from the crucible of work emerges the hard core of character.”

Noting that Church members in the latter days have been recognized for their industrious and motivated nature, Bishop Clarke said it's important that the fire for productivity be stoked with each generation.

Emphasizing the value of work ethic, Bishop Clarke listed four things for Church members to remember and develop.

1. Aim for high-quality work

“It is a matter of integrity. Every piece of work we do is a portrait of the one who produced it,” he said. “We must be motivated by a higher ideal than simply meeting the artificial standard of a society which has allowed inferior performance to be acceptable.”

2. Give full and honest effort

“In a very real sense, each of us is in business for ourselves, no matter who pays us. Be honest with your employer. Make sure that ‘the laborer is worthy of his hire’ (D&C 84:79),” Bishop Clarke said.

To give anything less than a full effort does not match the ethic taught within the gospel, he explained.

“Each of us should set a personal standard based upon our ability. Let us exemplify the old pioneer motto: A Full Day’s Work for a Full Day’s Pay.”

3. Invest in your personal development

“Expand your occupational horizons by constant study. Use your spare time wisely,” he said. “The dimensions of most jobs are constrained only by the mind of the uncreative worker.”

4. Teach your children the value of work

“Our children have experienced unprecedented prosperity created by parents who have worked hard to provide what they themselves did not have as youngsters,” he said. “If we are to save our children temporally and spiritually, we must train them to work. They must learn by example that work is not drudgery, but a blessing.”

Bishop Clarke went on to state that, “We have a moral obligation to exercise our personal capabilities of mind, muscle and spirit in a way that will return to the Lord, our families, and our society the fruits of our best efforts.” Doing anything less can leave a person feeling unfulfilled and deny those dependent on them of opportunities and advantages, he explained.

Bishop Clarke also gave warning for how Church members balance their time.

“The Lord condemns idleness,” Bishop Clarke said. “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.”

But idleness is not simply a lack of work, he clarified. “Leisure is not idleness.”

Finding positive ways to spend our leisure is just as important as hard work in our ocupational pursuits, he said. “Proper use of leisure requires discriminating judgment. Our leisure provides opportunity for renewal of spirit, mind and body. It is a time for worship, for family, for service, for study, for wholesome recreation. It brings harmony into our life.”

Bishop Clarke also offered a reminder that in many cases, work can offer a form of healing. “Work is honorable. It is good therapy for most problems,” he said. “It is the antidote for worry. It is the equalizer for deficiency of native endowment. Work makes it possible for the average to approach genius. What we may lack in aptitude, we can make up for in performance.”

God’s plan includes work and struggle, and it doesn’t simply end in this life, Bishop Clarke said. Work is a part of God’s eternal plan, meaning we will continually working for progression.

“In the broader sense, work is the means to achieve happiness, prosperity, and salvation. When work and duty and joy are comingled, then man is at his best. Work was instituted from the beginning as the means by which the children of God were to fulfill their earthly stewardship. Work is our divine heritage.”

You can read the full discourse here.

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