I was taught by goodly parents. My mom was born and raised in Richland, Washington, and my father was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. I am grateful to parents who were hard workers and had the patience to teach me the gospel and how to work.
When I was a young boy around ten years old, my father had a Priest-aged young man named Doug Foot work with my older brother Tyler and I for the summer. Our first project was to stain the fence that surrounded our property. It was a large backyard and had a long line of wood fence and I was not thrilled to get started. We bought the stain, brushes and began the project. We spent hours and hours staining the wood planks, we were hungry, thirsty, hot and I wanted to quit. Each night as the work finished, I had the task of gathering the brushes to be cleaned and ready for the next day of work. It took us the entire week to finish staining the fence planks. When finished, we approached my father with excitement showing him all the hard work we had done. He walked the fence line with us, pointing out mistakes and places we had missed. Then he said, “any job is worth doing well, now finish the other side of the fence.” We had stained the inside of the fence but not the outside that faced the neighbors. After another week of hard work in the summer heat we finished and as I looked around at the yard, I was filled with a realization that I can do hard things. I proved to myself, my brother, my dad and even Doug Foot that I was not going to quit, that I was disciplined, strong, productive and determined.
In October 1986 Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “One of the great challenges of life for parents from the very beginning has been succeeding in the very important task of rearing children. This great responsibility seems destined to bring the greatest joys and some of the greatest sorrows life has in store for us here in mortality.
“Every child, of course, is different, and what works for one may not elicit the correct response from another. However, I believe that second only to ensuring that every child receives an understanding of the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is teaching them the joy of honest labor.”
From the beginning, The Lord commanded Adam to till the earth and have dominion over the beasts of the field, to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow. Work is a blessing from God. It is a fundamental principle of salvation both spiritual and temporal. Note carefully the words “cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” that we read in Moses 4:23. That it is for his good or benefit.
The intense commitment to work has become a Latter-day Saint trademark. In this commitment, our prophets have led by example. It is said that President Wilford Woodruff loved work. “To him it was a blessing, a privilege, to sweat was a divine command so as to pray.”
We are inspired by our current prophet President Russell M. Nelson and his commitment to work, to draw close to our Heavenly Father for revelation and to endure to the end.
(Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909, pp. 644–45.)
We’re living in strange days. Evil is called good; and good is called evil. Due to innovations and technology, we can live life without hard work and to some, work is a natural enemy.
Today I would like to propose that whatever the obstacles, hard work has benefits that should not be overlooked or avoided.
As they say in the Marines, “No one ever drowned in sweat.”
We need a revival in our work ethic. For many, I’m preaching to the choir. But sometimes even the hardest of workers get discouraged and become distracted.
I hope this talk is a dose of “just do it” for the day. As it says in the Bible, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.” (Colossians 3:23)
Have you ever had a job you loved?
Have you ever had a job you hated?
I have had both. I loved to play basketball. Stretching, lifting weights, plyometrics, analytics, watching video, massages, cold baths, injuries, teammates, coaches, fans, practices, playing defense, running up and down the court, shooting, games, locker rooms, traveling, team dinners and game winners.
I’ve also had jobs I hated - I hated installing insulation. Hoppers, 120-degree attics, sore arms, staple guns, R19, crawl spaces, spraying, taping, ladders and relentless itchiness.
We all have or will have jobs you either love or hate. In the end they are all good for us, for our benefit and will help us if we choose to give our best and work hard.
To help motivate you toward hard work, allow me to share these 5 Benefits of Hard Work by Jason Poquette:
1. Hard Work Builds Character – We’re living in the midst of a character crisis. If we can’t have something in five minutes, we don’t want it. And if getting it is hard, forget it! But hard work builds character. You learn discipline. You learn to focus. You learn to manage your time and your resources. You learn to ignore the critics who are telling you it can’t be done. Don’t be a quitter. Quitting is easy. Giving up is easy! But EASY never builds character. Strong character is built the same way strong muscles are built – Hard Work! Success – you see – isn’t the greatest reward of hard work. Character is more important than success. And hard work builds character. Former MLB player for the White Sox and Blue Jays, Samuel Ewing, put it this way,
“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
2. Hard Work Gets Results – Hard work ALWAYS accomplishes something. It might be you learn something. It might be you build something. It might be you change something. But hard work always gets results. It has been said “Some people dream of success… while others wake up and work hard at it.” Laziness doesn’t result in anything but wasted time and resources. Do you want to see something happen? Work hard. I like the way Abraham Lincoln put it, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
3. Hard Work Draws Attention – Want to get noticed? Work hard. The diligent stand out. We live in a culture that increasingly encourages and fosters minimal effort. Want to turn some heads today? Give 110% to whatever you are doing. It doesn’t matter how many talents you have, or what you are called to do, do it with passion! Give it your heart! And soon the world will be watching. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.’”
4. Hard Work Brings New Opportunities – In Doctrine Covenants 88:118 we learn that “hard work and education opens doors.” The lazy complain about the lack of luck.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
Those who work hard find new opportunities always presenting themselves. Hard work is like an opportunity magnet. Sometimes these opportunities just seem to appear out of thin air, other times they come through new acquaintances, and often they are the result of greater insights and understanding that hard work produced. Whatever the manner – hard work is usually the cause. Edison’s famous words are relevant to this point, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
5. Hard Work Blesses Others – No lasting benefit to mankind is achieved without hard work. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We typically work hard to please ourselves. We should work harder to please others, bless others and help others. Work hard, and don’t worry about who gets the credit. Work hard, and the world is blessed. Such individuals are few and far between.
Now it isn’t always easy to push yourself and that is why our Heavenly Father gave us mothers.
Our oldest child is named Ryder. He turned 16 years old in January of this year. He is a wonderful son, older brother, priesthood holder, student and basketball player, but when he turned 16, he had no desire or urgency to get his driver's license. He had older friends who drove and a mother who was kind enough to continue to take him where he needed to go. Maybe he was scared, maybe he had fear of the unknown and just maybe he didn’t want to do.
the work…until one day his mother followed her intuition and listened to the whispers that said “push him.” Ryder’s mother gave him an ultimatum that he would have his driver’s license by a certain day or lose privileges. She pushed him to be better, to do hard things, to work - she went late at night on long drives so he could get his hours of driving in, she pushed him to talk to his Driver’s Ed instructor, to set up the time for roading and to take the state exam. Ryder received his driver's license yesterday! …… and upon receiving it, gave his mother a big hug and said, “Thank you for pushing me to work hard and to just do it.”
What are some things you are asked to do as a student, faculty member, parent or a priest in the ward? A priest is asked to bless the sacrament and visit those who were not able to attend sacrament and church meetings. They are asked to show up for church, be and stay worthy, and much more – 95% of those things they don’t love to do, but somewhere in there you discipline yourself to do them – to do the things you are asked to do. If you find the why or the value behind what you are asked to do – it will help you discipline yourself to do them.
I've learned a lot from my wife. I'm constantly amazed by our Savior Jesus Christ as his ability to do the will of the Father. That takes a lot to understand. We can first do what our mother asks us to do. My mother died of pancreatic cancer at the young age of 44. I was 18 years old at the time. The last thing she asked me to do was to serve a mission. I don't know if I had decided to serve a mission until she asked me. I did what my mom asked me to do. I served a mission.
There have been many times where I may not have wanted to do what my wife wanted me to do, but I learned to do it. I thought she was right 99.9% of the time, but I'm pretty sure she's right 100% of the time.
One of my favorite stories about my sweet wife is years ago my wife and I moved to Moscow, Russia to play professional basketball. We felt prompted to go despite our limited knowledge of the country and the team. While living in Moscow, we heard the whispers telling us to have more children - that Ryder needed a brother or sister. Having both come from large families - myself a family of five children and her six - we were excited. Although after many miscarriages and two failed infertility attempts, our hearts were broken.
My wife who's the most compassionate, empathetic and Christlike person I've ever met knows what to do when times are tough and you have challenges. She read her scriptures. She was reading in Matthew 11:28-30,
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
While reading that scripture, her thoughts led her to know that we weren't in Russia just to play basketball. We were there to bless lives and to serve and to work and to make a difference.
She began researching children in Russia and found that over 600,000 children are orphans in Russia. They're called social orphans because their parents are deemed unfit to raise them due to alcohol and drugs. These orphans are taken from their families, but there's no foster care and there's no structure. They're taken to hospitals where there's limited care and limited structure.
We began to volunteer - to take onesies and diapers and formula to these hospitals. We were turned down many times, or they would take what we had given them and sell it on the streets the next day. After perseverance and relentlessness, and the ability to listen to the whispers of the Spirit, we found a hospital 45 minutes outside of Moscow. The director of the hospital is named Tatiana - who is now a close friend.
After much due diligence and hard work, we were able to remodel a portion of that hospital with new blood analysis, urine analysis machines and antibiotic machines. We teased that it looked like World War II and now it looked like Chuck E. Cheese's.
Through that experience, we were able to bless the lives of a young boy named Ardom, who needed a liver transplant. We were able to start a foundation, which now has 10 children's centers around the world in Nepal, Thailand, China, Africa, Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic and soon Peru. All because of a young, sweet daughter of our Heavenly Father listening to the whispers of the Spirit - that knew that when you have challenges, you know where to find them.
Something much larger has come from that experience. We filed our adoption papers, and we got pregnant with little Mason. We continued down the path and we adopted Haile. Then we, out of surprise, had Zach, and out of even more surprise had Gwen. You cannot connect the dots forward, only backward.
I had the opportunity to serve in the Chile Santiago West Mission where my mission president was Rowley Walker - a farmer from Idaho Falls. His young boy, named McNeil Walker, went on visits with us when he was the prime age of 7-8 years old - a cute little blonde boy who had become a really good friend.
Recently, three years ago, he had returned from a mission to Mexico and knew how to work. They had a 10-acre farm where they harvested pumpkins for the community, had hay rides, trampolines and different things to bless the lives of others. As McNeil arrived home, less than six months after returning home, he was driving down the highway in his tractor, when a semi-driver who was texting drove by and hit him. As the tractor tumbled over, McNeil lost his life.
My wife and I had the opportunity to attend his funeral and to be with the Walker family. His older sister Schilese said this at his funeral:
Exactly one year ago today, McNeil opened up his laptop two days before he died and took some time for quiet contemplation and pondering.
The day after he passed away, we opened up that same laptop, and his roommate happened to know the password. McNeil was 21-years old. You can imagine what you'd find on a boy that age's laptop.
As my brother-in-law opened the laptop, a look of astonishment came across his face, and tears began to flow freely. This is what we found on that 21-year-old's laptop. It was a Word document that he had failed to close, because no doubt, he wasn't finished dreaming. This was what was on his mind two days before he died. This is what he was working on one year ago tonight. One need only to read it to know what kind of a man McNeil was. He was spectacularly remarkable. I am so proud and blessed he was my brother. The document left open on his screen was last updated April 25, 2016 (he passed on the 27th).
It was entitled: My Goals and Things I Want to Learn and Do and Skills I Want to Develop:
-go the gym every day and work hard!
-learn how to play the piano
-get good at yoga three times a week!
-learn how to trade different stocks and do it good
-understand the best diet to have and do it
-learn to tie knots
-learn how to fly fish better
-write down and actually look into all the companies and ideas I have and actually try and make it happen
-learn how to code
-learn about interesting historical events. World War 1 and 2, Civil War, Romans, Chinese
-learn how to use computers very, very well and take Mac classes
-get into early morning swimming
-learn to skateboard
-learn how to make bread, great bread
-contract out stores for the pumpkin patch
-learn about plastic and water companies
-learn to cook multiple staple dishes - 10 at least that are amazing
-learn basic engine and electrical and plumbing skills
-study the scriptures every day
-study a Christlike attribute every day for a few minutes at least
-go to the temple once every two weeks
-learn good penmanship/calligraphy
-stop looking at social media very much, once every four hours is fine
-stay more than on top of the pumpkin patch weeks and even a month in advance
-pay my tithing always
-never talk bad about others, only be honest but loving, don’t be a gossiper and talk about what you don’t know about others.
-be the one to say something nice
-STUDY LEADERSHIP! leaders like Caesar, Washington, chiefs, successful people
-read a book every two months at least
-don’t just search to make out, search for the elite women and make things happen respectfully
-do a tough mudder
-learn basic sewing
-write in my journal EVERYDAY
-keep a book of my favorite quotes - one each day if its long then every two days
-learn to cut men’s hair, straight shave, fades, good cut
-get good at wakeboarding and snowboarding
-learn about backpacking, camping and other outdoors things
-learn about the farms and my dad’s businesses. take time for it!
-always be loving to my mom
-meditate every day for 30 minutes!
-go on dates at least twice a week
May we all dream like McNeil and strive to be better every day.
Our Savior Jesus Christ was the perfect example of hard work. He was disciplined and completely committed to the will of the Father. He blessed each of our lives in so many ways and we all watched as he was able to accomplish his mission here on earth. We watched as he allowed himself to be crucified which was the darkest day on earth BUT the brightest day in Heaven. And now the roles are reversed and he is watching, cheering, sending angels, mothers, teachers, friends to help us accomplish our missions. And with a lot of hard work, humility and listening to the whispers of the spirit we can do it.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.