Words of the Prophet: Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel
July 2000

“Words of the Prophet: Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,” New Era, July 2000, 4

Words of the Prophet:

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

The best antidote for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is to help someone even more tired.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor. It is the process by which dreams become realities. It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.

Most of us are inherently lazy. We would rather play than work. We would rather loaf than work. A little play and a little loafing are good. But it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or woman. It is stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands that lift us from mediocrity. It is work that provides the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the homes in which we live. We cannot deny the need for work with skilled hands and educated minds if we are to grow and prosper individually and if our nation is to stand tall before the world (from Ensign, Aug. 1992, 4).

Be Smart

By this I do not mean be smart-alecky or anything of that nature. I mean be wise. Be smart about training your minds and hands for the future. Each of you is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each of you is a son or daughter of God. You have an obligation to make the most of your life. Plan now for all the education you can get, and then work to bring to pass a fulfillment of that plan.

You live in a complex age. The world needs men and women of ability and training (from Ensign, Nov. 1981, 40).

The Lessons of Work

In my early childhood we had a stove in the kitchen and a stove in the dining room. A furnace was later installed, and what a wonderful thing that was. But it had a voracious appetite for coal, and there was no automatic stoker. The coal had to be shoveled into the furnace and carefully banked each night.

I learned a great lesson from that monster of a furnace: if you wanted to keep warm, you had to work the shovel.

My father had an idea that his boys ought to learn to work in the summer as well as in the winter, and so he bought a five-acre farm which eventually grew to include more than 30 acres. We lived there in the summer and returned to the city when school started.

We had a large orchard, and the trees had to be pruned each spring. Father took us to pruning demonstrations put on by experts from the agriculture college. We learned a great truth—that you could pretty well determine the kind of fruit you would pick in September by the way you pruned in February. Further, we learned that new, young wood produces the best fruit. That has had many applications in life (from Ensign, May 1993, 52).

Forget Yourself

In the evening of the first day that I arrived in Preston [England], my companion, who was the district president, said we would go down to the marketplace and hold a street meeting. There, Elder Bramwell and I raised our voices in a hymn, offered prayer, and preached the gospel to a gathering crowd.

I feel especially fortunate to have been sent to Preston as my initial missionary assignment. Not only did I labor there, but I labored in the surrounding towns where the first missionaries in England taught the gospel. I was not as effective as were they. When they first arrived, there evidently was little or no prejudice against them. When I arrived, it seemed that everyone was prejudiced against us.

I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” Earlier that morning in our scripture class my companion and I had read these words of the Lord: “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being (from Ensign, July 1987, 7).

Beyond Routine Work

The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.

To you wonderful young men and women I send a charge to reach beyond the routine of your daily work to serve in the Church, in the community, in the society of which you are a part. Though your talents be meager, polish them. Increase your skills, extend your love to help those who need your lifting hand (from Ensign, June 1989, 74).

We Have Work to Do

Far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.

We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord. We can do it, if we will be prayerful and faithful. We can do better than we have ever done before.

The Church needs your strength. It needs your love and loyalty and devotion. It needs a little more of your time and energy.

I am not asking anyone to give more at the expense of his or her employer. We have an obligation to be men and women of absolute honesty and integrity in the service of those who employ us. But I am suggesting that we spend a little less time in idleness, in the fruitless pursuit of watching some inane and empty television programs. Time so utilized can be put to better advantage, and the consequences will be wonderful. Of that I do not hesitate to assure you (from Ensign, May 1995, 88).

You Can Make a Difference

I believe that I am a child of God, endowed with a divine birthright. I believe that there is something of divinity within me and within each of you. I believe that we have a godly inheritance and that it is our responsibility, our obligation, and our opportunity to cultivate and nurture the very best of these qualities within us.

Though my work may be menial, though my contribution may be small, I can perform it with dignity and offer it with unselfishness. My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from hand and mind. I can be one who works with respect for my associates, for their opinions, for their beliefs, with appreciation for their problems and with a desire to help them should they stumble. I believe in the principle that I can make a difference in this world. It may be ever so small. But it will count for the greater good (from Ensign, Aug. 1992, 7).

Illustrated by Robert Barrett