“And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timers of curious workmanship … “ ( I Nephi 18:1)
And later it reads;
“And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.” (I Nephi 18:4)
Do you notice anything unusual here? Here’s what struck me. Laman and Lemuel were supportive and helpful to Nephi in these verses. That’s something you seldom read about in their relationship. Most of the time we read that Laman and Lemuel are sitting around complaining and figuring out ways to get rid of Nephi. But that’s just it … in the times they are complaining they are usually not working. Isn’t it interesting that when they are working together for a cause they are not only supportive of Nephi but humble before the Lord.
I think this is a great lesson for our lives. You’ve heard the phrase “busy hands are happy hands.” I also believe busy hands are righteous hands because when we’re “doing” we’re usually “doing good.”
This great lesson also appears later in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 50. At this time Captain Moroni is leading the people in fortifying their cities against the Lamanite armies. The people are busy working to protect their cities. While doing this there are others among the Nephites who are building new cities to the north. They are a very busy people working together for the good of everyone. This is how they are described:
“And they did prosper exceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land.” (Alma 50:18)
But I believe the best description of their state of mind while working to build their cities is found in verse 23:
“But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni.” (Alma 50:23)
“Never was a happier time.” Can you imagine saying that about your life today? I think the secret is asking yourself; “Am I working hard today?”
In my own life I learned this lesson when I was 19 years-old. On August 28, 1974 I was standing in the Salt Lake International Airport waiting to board my very first airline flight. I was going to England to serve my mission. To say I was “scared” would be putting it mildly. I wasn’t scared of the flight, I was scared because I had no idea what the next two years of my life would bring. I stood in the “A” concourse surrounded by a supportive family and girlfriend, but still I was more nervous than I had ever been in my life. As I was giving my good-bye hugs I came to my dad and he said something to me at that moment that I’ve never forgotten. These were his words:
“Son, give it a hundred and ten percent.”
I suspect that because my nickname around the house was “Mr. Play” he was concerned that I might not take my responsibilities as a missionary as seriously as I should. (Given my past history, it was probably a valid concern.) But his words have rung in my mind many times since then and they were a constant reminder on my mission that I needed to work hard to be happy. (My dad was so wise and I miss being able to call him on the phone for advice, even today.) President Ezra Taft Benson also knew work brings happiness when he said:
“If a missionary works he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work: there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
When I arrived in England the next day I was determined that I was going to work hard. So I did work hard. Now I have to say my first companion, and he was a great guy, but he wasn’t the hardest worker. Being the junior companion I felt the best way to encourage hard work was to show I was always ready. There were many mornings when I would sit on my bed at 9:30 am (the time we were supposed to leave the “flat” or apartment) fully-dressed and reading my scriptures or studying the discussions. Often times he wouldn’t be ready until after ten o’clock. But I never wanted to be the cause for us not working hard or giving it a hundred and ten percent. ( After the first six weeks of my mission I was made a trainer and we made it a point to be out by at least 9:30 every morning.)
My first day of tracting as a missionary in England
One thing I remember about working hard on my mission was how tired I would be at the end of the day. One October night after an appointment we were waiting at a bus stop as a fine mist fell from the sky. I leaned up against the light pole to rest and closed my eyes. The next thing I remember finding myself in a heap at the base of the pole. I had fallen asleep standing up and my legs had collapsed beneath me. Another time later in my mission I was kneeling by my bed to say my nightly prayer. I was fully dressed in my suit and tie. The next thing I remembered was waking up to my alarm at 6:30 am – the next morning - lying on my bed – still fully dressed in my suit and tie. I had fallen asleep during my prayer and had not woken up all night. (I know it doesn’t say much about the effectiveness of my prayer that evening.)
But back to my dad’s parting words to me. The best part of this story didn’t happen until two-years later when my Mom and Dad came to England to pick me up from my mission. I met them at Heathrow Airport in London. Like most travelers who arrive in England after an all night flight from the United States, they were pretty tired. But I met my dad with great big hug and the first thing I said to him was;
“Do you remember what you last told me before I left for my mission?”
I think it caught him by surprise because he told me he couldn’t recall what that was. I reminded him of his last words to me two years earlier and then I was able to give him a report of the previous two years.
“Dad, I have given it a hundred and ten percent.”
Me, my Mom and Dad in London 1976
I want each of you to know how happy I was to be able to give that report to my dad. I believe at that time I learned for myself that when you’re working hard for something you believe in, you will never be happier.
I promise each of you that same happiness as you work as hard as you can for the things you believe in. Please put this promise to the test. Now get out there and work!