Saturday, May 16, 2020

Work, Consecration, and Motivation

Our Annabel happily doing her chores


“I hope while you have been here you have learned to work.” My mom’s words came with a soberness and sincerity that I rarely felt. Not that she wasn’t a sober and sincere person it was more than that. I felt how deeply she meant what she said. And it has stuck with me ever since.

I was 18 and headed off to college and except for a few weeks between college and my mission I would never really live at home again. I had always known that she had wanted me to work. After all, she spent more of her life trying to motivate us to actually get our chores done than she did anything else. Something I am sure she wished wasn’t a full time job, but unfortunately was even more than that. But I assumed she just wanted the bathroom clean, the dishes done, and the clothes from the washer into the dryer and put on cotton sturdy thirty. But what I realized as she spoke, while that work had to get done, was that she was more concerned about who I was becoming than she was about clothes or dishes.

The older I get the more the principle of work has come into focus as one of the most important and guiding principles in life. Satan would have us believe that happiness is found in avoiding work, and he regularly portrays the joys of ease. Caught up in this view many of us make work avoidance one of our great pursuits.

God knows true happiness is not found in avoiding work, but in embracing it. There will always be work. Work to maintain our existence, to eat, food must be grown, prepared and then dishes washed. Work to improve our life, it is work that leads to innovation and comfort. And work to make our lives rich, the entertainment we all enjoy takes work. There are exceptions, individuals who get “lucky” and have a life of ease purely on the work of others, not on their own. Satan would have us focus and waste our lives dreaming of becoming the exception, God would have us focus on the rule. And that is, that with its ever presence the only way for all people to be happy in society, what God wants, is for us to be happy in work. Not only that, he knows our greatest joys in our lives will not come from fleeting moments of pleasure or the stuff we accumulate, but in our accomplishments. Things that can only be achieved by the sweat of our brain and our brow.

This is true for individuals and societies. In the Book of Mormon we get to see the creation and destruction of many nations. But whenever a nation begins to prosper it is always because, “Yea, they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly.” (Mosiah 23:5) There are many economic theories out there. Most focus on government and how it runs business and monetary systems. But what I think some economic theorists lose sight of is at the end of the day it's about production. How many people are working and producing? You can borrow, you can save, you can liquidate, you can plan, you can merge, you can stimulate, but if Bob and the other millions like him don’t get up and go to work to make a product our GDP will be zero.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ we speak a lot about consecration. And when we think of consecration we often think of the difficulty in giving up or surrendering all that we own to be redistributed by the Bishop of another spiritual leader. I personally don’t believe this is how consecration will be applied but that is a discussion for another day. The point is consecration becomes a much easier principle to live, in the future and today. If we can do two things.

  1. Alter our motivations for why we work: This means getting up and going to work because we want to improve the world around us and help others not because we want to enrich ourselves. This will not only help us but will in my mind improve the quality of work we provide. But this is much easier to do if we:
  2. Learn to love work and the joy of producing. This is really the change that needs to occur. And if it does consecration becomes a very easy principle to live. Because we are more concerned with and find joy in the opportunity to contribute, the opportunity to create and produce and being productive than we are in what we consume. How much we get, how rich we are, how big our house is or how nice our clothes are, etc…
It took me many years to understand what my Mother really meant. She wasn’t worried about whether or not I knew the mechanics of how dishes were washed, or the lawn mowed. She wanted me to understand not just how to work, but how wonderful work can be. Because she knew that this discovery was the only way I could see the fulfillment of that great scripture” “men are that they might have joy.”

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