Sermoncitos, a family tradition



My father learned from personal experience that “he who chops his own wood gets warm twice”. His mother would send him out on a winter day to split and shape wood to exact proportions so that she could control the tempertures in the oven. The disciplined cooking of my grandmother’s generation created an expectation for high quality meals that has been passed down to my grandchildren. The modern appliances do not decrease the amount of work we do each day; I think our access to high tech tools increases the expectation for the amount and the quality of our cooking and every other job we do. Work is an eternal principle introduced to Adam to prepare him for what life is like in the Celestial Kingdom (Genesis 3:19, Moses 5:1). The challenge in our day of conveniences is to raise our children with the work ethic they need.

We have many role models for understanding the Gospel principle of “Work”. James E. Faust, served as second counselor in the First Presidency from age 75 until he died at age 87. President Faust was born 31 July 1920, in Delta, Utah. He participated as a member of the University of Utah track team in 1938 and ran the quarter-mile and mile relay. His college career was interrupted first to serve as a missionary for the Church in Brazil and later by World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Army Air Force and was discharged as a first lieutenant. In 1948 he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor's and Juris Doctor degree. He began the practice of law in Salt Lake City and continued until his appointment as a general authority of the Church in 1972. He was given many difficult assignments, in spite of his advanced age. He retired from his law practice, but not from church work.

Whereas some would like to work fewer days or years, life expectancy is longer for those who delay retirement. The Lord said to the people of Israel, “Six days shalt thou labour” (Exodus 20:9). In the early days of the restored Church, the Lord told the Latter-day Saints, “Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them” (D&C 68:31). In this century, a prophet of God has said, “Work is to be reenthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3). I am currently working two full time jobs, and hoping to reduce that down to one so I might have more time to get things done. Parents should teach work ethics by working together to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their family. They should never expect anyone to take care of this responsibility for them. The Apostle Paul wrote, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8).

I had a pleasant dream last night. I could see the rain falling on a distant peak. I ran to the arroyo to watch the water come down. I got there in time to see the first trickles, and stayed until all the stream was gone. It was like watching a sunset: you have to be there on time. It is like going to the concert: they only play once, then it is over. It is like taking care of the livestock: you are blessed by having a daily, urgent responsibility. My father was raised with this sense of responsibility, and received the blessings that come with it: “Being forced to work, and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” (Charles Kingsley, quoted in Liahona: The Elders’ Journal, 12 May 1914, p. 761.) Modern technology has made us busier than any generation. We should remember the second part of chopping your own wood: sit in front of the fire and enjoy a renewal of body and spirit.