A Time to Every Purpose under the Heaven
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“A Time to Every Purpose under the Heaven,” Ensign, Mar. 1987, 31

The Visiting Teacher:

“A Time to Every Purpose under the Heaven”

Objective: To understand that part of our earthly education is learning to manage time wisely.

As Latter-day Saint women, we struggle with many roles and expectations. We may have the responsibilities of wife and mother; church callings; a home and garden to care for; homemaking tasks such as cooking, canning, and sewing; personal scripture study; regular journal keeping; daily exercise; perhaps an outside job or at-home money-making activity; perhaps the need to care for an elderly parent; and so forth.

While we should be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27), the Lord does not say we should be anxiously engaged in every good cause simultaneously. A woman may have several goals, such as raising righteous children, refining her skill on the piano, doing volunteer work at a hospital, getting a college degree, doing genealogical research, or serving a mission. But to pursue all of them at the same time leads to discouragement and frustration.

“I have had people tell me, ‘Oh, you’ve done so many things,’” says Barbara Winder, Relief Society general president. “I tell them, ‘But I’ve lived so many years!’ There really is a season for everything. I couldn’t possibly do today what I am doing as Relief Society general president if my children were small and still at home and I were caring for them. …

“This is a lesson we all have to learn. Only we can judge how much we can handle. We often think that someone else is doing everything. But usually one sister is doing one thing, and another sister is doing something else, and yet another sister is doing another thing. Then we try to do it all! And when it all comes tumbling down around our feet we realize that we can’t do it all. As we learn what we can do, we are growing; and then sometimes we can take on a little more—perhaps because of what we have learned in the process.” (Ensign, March 1986, p. 21.)

An artist at her canvas has a vision of how the final painting should look. She sketches many intermediate outlines as she proceeds. It is wise for a woman at any stage of life to visualize the person she wants to become. She should ask herself, “What can I be doing at this stage in my life?” instead of yearning for goals best left for later.

It’s pointless for a woman with four small children to continually yearn to be serving a full-time mission. It is unwise for a missionary to continually dream about being a mother. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1.)

Priorities, commitments, and desires often pull us in opposite directions. By relying on the Spirit of the Lord, we can have the assurance that we have chosen the right course. There are no trivial, unimportant tasks in the Lord’s kingdom. “Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” (D&C 64:33.)

Suggestions for Visiting Teachers

  1. Do you have unrealized goals you believe it is too late to accomplish? Is it really too late, or just more difficult?

  2. Discuss how association with other sisters and participation in Relief Society lessons strengthen us and help us to work on goals that will bring personal growth, glorify God, and lead us back into his presence.

  3. How can we support each other in our present situations?

(See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 225–6 for related materials.)

Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker