“What effect should my religious commitments have on my vocational behavior?” New Era, Jan. 1975, 12
Answer/Brother Noel B. Reynolds
In the beginning the Lord told Adam, “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. …” (Moses 4:25. See also Gen. 3:19.) The commandment to work is universal, and the Lord expects it of all men. The prophets have continually admonished us to work and to provide for our own. Prophetic teaching has always sympathized with the popular maxim that “no one owes you a living.”
But as one surveys the economic world around him he is quickly impressed with the variety of ways in which an income can be obtained. In the world of commerce one soon discovers a prevailing attitude of “every man for himself” and the idea that “the buyer should beware.” It is almost universally accepted that whatever is allowed by the law of the land is morally acceptable.
But the Latter-day Saint has made a commitment to take the name of Christ upon him and to be known as a son or a daughter of Christ throughout his life. He has accepted the injunction to be in this world but not of the world. This means that in every action he will be guided by the highest of moral standards. Integrity will be his hallmark as he operates in the marketplace, even as in his Church service. As an employee he will give his employer “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” As a businessman he will give his customers a fair value for the price they pay. As a salesman or a promoter he will not sell just anything for the income but will only promote a quality product that is fairly priced. His internal standards will constantly govern his actions and protect him from cheating an unwary soul for economic advantage.
Not only does our commitment to Christ require us to be honest, but it requires us to seek excellence in all that we do. We should seek to attain the highest quality possible in all our work and continually seek ways of improving our performance. We cannot be satisfied with inferior or even mediocre output.
Furthermore, as disciples of Christ we accepted the opportunity and responsibility to love all our Father’s children—to seek to be a blessing to them and to share with them the testimony of Christ in all that we do. If we are prayerful the Spirit will guide us to know how this can be appropriately accomplished in any circumstance. Many times it will only mean that we should consistently exemplify the standards of the church of Jesus Christ. Other times we will be called upon to go beyond example and be messengers, inviting our acquaintances to come to know of the restored gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is given to us to change our very souls—to make new men and women of us. If we have truly embraced that gospel we will no longer be capable of following the ways of the world. Earning a living is not a worldly activity—or at least it should not be for the committed Latter-day Saint. Like any other aspect of our existence it presents opportunities for growth and service and demands our constant attention to the guidance of the Holy Ghost who can lead us to moral perfection.