Learning from Early Saints: Putting Aside the Cares of the World
April 2021

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Doctrine and Covenants 37–40

Learning from Early Saints: Putting Aside the Cares of the World

A few early Saints are amazing examples of the principles taught in Doctrine and Covenants 37–40.

sculpture of mother and two children on Temple Square

When a man named James Covel became interested in the Church in 1831, the Lord told him that James had “seen great sorrow” in his life “because of pride and the cares of the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:9). James pledged to turn his life around, but these same “cares of the world” ultimately took him out of the Church again (see Doctrine and Covenants 40:2).

How can we make sure that we don’t allow the cares of the world to remove us from the blessings of the gospel and the Savior’s Atonement? Well, the example of Mary “Polly” Vose (1780–1866), a single sister from Massachusetts, USA, can give us a few ideas!

A Generous Donation

Polly was baptized in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 29, 1832, when she was 52.1 Although she never married, Polly was not alone. In addition to the fellowship she received from her branch in Boston, she also had the company of her 26-year-old niece, Ruth Vose. The two worked together as upholsterers in Boston.2 And they both found meaning and fulfillment in the gospel.

In 1834, Polly heard about the plight of the Saints who had been driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, USA, by mob violence. Through a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord asked Church members to donate money to help the suffering Saints redeem Zion (see Doctrine and Covenants 103:22–23). Polly didn’t have much, but she had faith in the Lord’s promise that if the Saints would relieve the suffering of others, great blessings would follow (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:35; 39:8–9). Acting on that conviction, Polly sent $150 to Kirtland, Ohio, USA, in 1834 to help supply the Camp of Israel expedition (later known as Zion’s Camp).3

One hundred fifty dollars was a lot of money for anyone—but especially for Polly, who was now 54 years old. The highest-paid women workers in the textile industry of Lowell, Massachusetts, made only about $3 per week, so $150 may have been about a year’s worth of wages for Polly.4

The day before Joseph Smith received Polly’s money, he had told Wilford Woodruff and others that the Church did not have enough resources for the Zion’s Camp expedition. But Joseph wasn’t worried. “I am going to have some money soon,” he told the group. And sure enough, the next morning, Polly’s donation arrived. Her $150 provided the means to purchase equipment and supplies for Zion’s Camp.5

We Can Also Prioritize the Gospel

Polly’s desire to put aside the cares of the world and put the gospel of Jesus Christ first extended throughout her life. When the Saints were building the Kirtland Temple, she and Ruth decided that it was “right and necessary to give liberally” to help with the construction. Providing “the full extent of their means,” the two women donated so much that Joseph Smith finally told them, “It is enough.” Their “unbounded liberality” also extended to missionaries who were serving in the eastern United States.6

Polly and Ruth were blessed by their contributions. Their mutual generosity created a strong bond that lasted their whole lives. When Polly was 77 years old, she was still living in Boston, but she wanted to gather with the Saints in Utah Territory. So Ruth traveled to Boston and accompanied Polly to the Salt Lake Valley in 1857. “Aunt Polly” was beloved among the Saints in Utah until her death in 1866. When Ruth died in 1884, she was buried alongside Polly.7

Polly’s life is an insightful example of how we can put the gospel above the things of the world. And, like Polly, we can:

  • Find a variety of ways to contribute to the cause of the gospel, no matter our circumstances.

  • Share truth with others.

  • Follow Heavenly Father’s direction given through His prophets and apostles.

  • Be generous with our means to help build the kingdom.

  • Prioritize serving in the temple or doing family history work.

  • Support family and friends throughout our life’s journey.

When we do what we can to lay aside the things of the world and prioritize the gospel, we strengthen our testimony of the plan of salvation, the love of our Father in Heaven, and the Savior’s Atonement. “As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord,” President Russell M. Nelson explained, “the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!”8 Like Polly, we will find a rich and fulfilling life, no matter our circumstances.


  1. See Samuel H. Smith, Journal, July 29, 1832, 14, typescript, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

  2. See “Ruth Sayers,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 15, 1884, 61.

  3. See “Account with the Church of Christ, circa 11–29 August 1834,” josephsmithpapers.org; see also Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, Jan. 10, 1858, 101.

  4. See Cynthia Shelton, “The Role of Labor in Early Industrialization: Philadelphia, 1787–1837,” Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 4, no. 4 (Winter 1984): 386–7.

  5. See Wilford Woodruff, “The History and Travels of Zion’s Camp,” 3, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

  6. See “Ruth Sayers,” 61.

  7. See “Ruth Sayers,” 62.

  8. Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 77.