Sunday, February 22, 2015

D. Todd Christofferson on the consecrated life and work

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (1945- ) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God's purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny....
"A consecrated life is a life of labor. Beginning early in His life, Jesus was about His Father's business (see Luke 2:48-49). God Himself is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39). We naturally desire to participate with Him in His work, and in so doing, we ought to recognize that all honest work is the work of God. In the words of Thomas Carlyle: 'All true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but true hand-labour, there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven.' (Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present (1843), 251)
"God has designed this mortal existence to require nearly constant exertion. I recall the Prophet Joseph Smith's simple statement: 'By continuous labor [we] were enabled to get a comfortable maintenance' (JS-H 1:55). By work we sustain and enrich life. It enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience. Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Reflections on a Consecrated Life", Ensign, November 2010, p. 16-19; click here to read the full talk

I love the phrase "a consecrated life." It denotes a quality of living that is no longer self-centered or self-serving, no longer distracted by worldliness; but is "set apart" or dedicated "as sacred, devoted to holy purposes." Elder Christofferson notes that in that kind of a mindset, we recognize that we are a part of God's work—and can be in any type of labor. With the consecrated mindset, "all honest work is the work of God."

I remember in my youth hearing a Seminary teacher whom I greatly respected quote 2 Nephi 26:31, "But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish." He used the passage to explain why he was a professional Seminary teacher. I was impressed by that, and wondered if I should follow in his professional shoes. But that misses the whole point. It's not about the vocation; it's about the motivation. Are we laboring for money, for personal gain and prosperity? Or are we laboring "for Zion," as a consecrated life, desiring to aid and build up the kingdom of God and do His work, regardless of the vocation?

And further, Elder Christofferson explains, it's the work itself that helps to ennoble and purify us in the process. The labor of a consecrated individual "enables us to survive the disappointments and tragedies of the mortal experience." What a great promise!

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