Employment

(February 2006)

The following quotes from Elder Maxwell during a BYU Devotional Address at BYU provide an interesting perspective on the world of employment here in this life:

How often have you and I really pondered just what it is, therefore, that will rise with us in the resurrection? Our intelligence will rise with us, meaning not simply our I.Q., but our capacity to receive and to apply truth. Our talents, attributes, and skills will rise with us, certainly also our capacity to learn, our degree of self-discipline, and our capacity to work. Note that I said “our capacity to work” because the precise form of our work here may have no counterpart there, but the capacity to work will never be obsolete. To be sure, we cannot, while here, entirely avoid contact with the obsolescent and the irrelevant. It is all around us. But one can be around irrelevancy without becoming attached to it, and certainly we should not become preoccupied with obsolete things.

By these remarks I do not intend to create discontent with the paraphernalia of this probationary estate, but it is a grave error to mistake the scenery and the props for the real drama which is underway. Nor do I wish to bear down too much on the fact that certain mortal vocations will be irrelevant in the next world. A mortician does useful work here, especially if it is done with excellence, compassion, and reverence for life. Whatever our vocation, we should be sweetened, not hardened. Keeping our sense of proportion whatever we do, keeping our precious perspective wherever we are, and keeping the commandments however we are tested reflect being settled, rooted, and grounded in our discipleship.

……..

One’s task is to do more and to perform well within his callings, but it is not something else or another work he should seek. God will not judge us according to the calling of another. Therefore, how we utilize the seemingly ordinary experiences of our life and how well we keep the commandments are true tests of our performance in this second estate. One can, while in the employ of a railroad company, learn something of patience while struggling to keep the train schedule meticulously up to date. But the patience will long outlast the printed train schedule. A discovering scientist may augment his awe and meekness before his Creator because of the breathtaking order in the universe even if his new discoveries erelong are swallowed up in even more immense discoveries.

But it is also true that routine may cause a gravedigger to become indifferent to the sorrows of the bereaved gathered about those fresh mounds of earth. The gravedigger may even become cynical about the resurrection which one day will empty all those graves. A marriage counselor can become encrusted with a protective layer of clinical indifference brought on by the routine and incessant nature of his chores. If so, his techniques will never compensate for his lack of caring. A civil servant who has forgotten how to be civil may have some sway now in the procurement division of a vast governmental direction, but he is headed in just the opposite developmental direction needed for sway in the next world.

On the other hand, one who listens more and more effectively to others with a genuine desire to understand and to help, if not always to agree, will have no regrets later on. Such an individual may occasionally run out of time here, but he is fitting himself for eternity. Love and patience are never wasted; they only appear to be. The devoted wife and mother who is a quiet but effective neighbor but whose obituary is noticed by a comparative few may well have laid up precious little here in the current coin-of-the-realm, recognition, yet rising with her in the resurrection will be relevant attributes and skills honed and refined in family and neighborhood life. Contrariwise, the civic leader whose thirst for recognition causes him to do things to be seen of men has his reward. He too will receive the gift of immortality during which expanse he can work on meekness and humility.

Thus when life is viewed superficially, it seems routine and even pedestrian. However, what appears on the surface can be a thin cover for developments of great spiritual significance. Those who passed by the football stadium at the University of Chicago several decades ago did not know what was underway below those empty seats. The atom was being split, after which the world was never again to be the same. Such a quiet stadium too. It is left to us, therefore, in our varied circumstances but with common challenges to make the interplay of our time and talent bring about the development of the key eternal attributes and the everlasting skills. A botched performance here means less chance to serve there. Any resulting advantage we have in the world to come clearly will result from taking advantage of the opportunities this life affords us. Hence those who are grounded, rooted, established, and settled will be serious about the eternal objectives on which this life should focus.

Brothers and sisters, when anciently we shouted for joy in anticipation of this mortal experience, we did not then think it would be ordinary and pedestrian at all. We sensed the impending high adventure. Let us be true to that first and more realistic reaction. (BYU Devotional Address, “Grounded, Rooted, Established, and Settled” 15 September 1981)

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