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Why is work important? Is it solely an inheritance from when Adam left the garden, and will its nature change after mortality?

TitleWhy is work important? Is it solely an inheritance from when Adam left the garden, and will its nature change after mortality?
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1976
AuthorsMaxwell, Neal A.
Issue Number8
Date PublishedAugust 1976
KeywordsAdam (Prophet); Fall of Adam; Work

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“Why is work important? I understand that it is necessary, but is there a principle behind work that makes it more than an inheritance from Adam’s being asked to leave the Garden of Eden? Will the nature of work change when we leave mortality?”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Work is more than the residual requirement of the expulsion from Eden. The gospel of work is tied, therefore, not only to human circumstances in which work is an economic necessity, but to human nature in which work is a spiritual necessity. It has been said that work is love made manifest.

For us to develop and to employ our talents requires us to be employed both vocationally and in the service of others. Our instincts for service would be frustrated if idleness were pervasive. Thus, the curse of idleness is not some arbitrary penalty imposed upon man, but arises out of our very nature. There are both observable reasons why we must be especially careful about idleness (along with wealth and power), and transcendental reasons why these conditions are a special challenge for “almost all.”

It is important to distinguish between the basic principles involved in the gospel of work and the frantic, heedless busyness that some engage in, which crowds out contemplation and which leaves no room for renewal. The thoughtful working person will provide some intervals between his tasks, like the green belts of grass, trees, and water that we often need in our living environment to interrupt the asphalt. Each of us will be more effective if we plan some time for contemplation and renewal, and if we do not feel driven by our work so much as drawn to it.

We do not have detailed information on the nature of work in the world to come. What little information we have of a tactical nature suggests that we will be intelligently involved doing specific things which are tied to the eternal purposes of our Father in heaven.

A final caution. For the past two decades many individuals have come to have unrealistic expectations about their vocations. They have tended to demand much psychic income as well as economic benefits. Our jobs may not always provide us with all the satisfactions we need. There are times when we must perform the duty of work for the ancient reasons: to provide ourselves and our families with the essentials, depending upon other sources of satisfaction for other blessings and benefits.