12. Prioritizing Life’s Demands and and 15. Mothers’ Employment Outside the Home

Lesson 12 – Prioritizing Life’s Demands

DOCTRINAL OVERVIEW

President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of “the need to do the things that matter most without leaving the other things undone” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1976, 70; or Ensign, May 1976, 46).

Elder Russell M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “Perhaps if you, too, search your hearts and courageously assess the priorities in your life, you may discover, as I did, that you need a better balance among your priorities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 14–15; or Ensign, May 1987, 13; student manual, 276).

President David O. McKay taught, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 5).

PRINCIPLE

Happiness in marriage and family is more likely when we focus on the things that matter most.

Elder M. Russell Ballard: “One of the greatest challenges of this life is the ordering of priorities. If we do not do this wisely, then things that matter most in life are at the mercy of things that matter least” (“Be Strong in the Lord, and in the Power of His Might” [CES fireside for young adults, 3 Mar. 2002], 6).

Discussion. Selected Teachings from “Priorities and Balance” (student manual, 276–77).

  • President Spencer W. Kimball. How can we compare the importance of balance in our lives to a piano keyboard?

“Some of the keys are used much more often than others, but all of them are needed from time to time to produce harmony and balance in our lives.”

  • President Ezra Taft Benson. What happens to our lives when we put God first?

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims of our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 13; or Ensign, May 1988, 4).

  • President Ezra Taft Benson. What should be one of our first priorities?

“To be successful, we must have the Spirit of the Lord. We have been taught that the Spirit will not dwell in unclean tabernacles. Therefore, one of our first priorities is to make sure our own personal lives are in order” (Come unto Christ, 92).

  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks. What examples can you give that our priorities determine what we seek in life?

“Our priorities determine what we seek in life. ‘Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness’ (JST Matthew 6:38), Jesus taught his disciples. As we read in modern revelation: ‘Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.’ (D&C 6:7.)” (Pure in Heart, 6).

  • Elder John A. Widtsoe. Which comes first, family or church? Why?

“The Church is composed of homes. Church and home cannot be separated. Neither one come first. They are one.”

  • Elder Neal A. Maxwell. What should each parent and grandparent do? Why?

“Given the gravity of current conditions, would parents be willing to give up just one outside thing, giving that time and talent instead to the family? Parents and grandparents, please scrutinize your schedules and priorities in order to ensure that life’s prime relationships get more prime time.”

  • First Presidency letter of 27 February 1999. What is the central message of this letter from the First Presidency?

“We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities…As we strengthen families, we will strengthen the entire Church.”

Family Priorities:

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson: “A man may succeed in business or his Church calling, but if he fails in his home he will face eternity in disappointment. . . . Home is the place where the Lord intended a father’s greatest influence to be felt.”

Pres. Spencer W. Kimball:  “The Lord says in definite terms: ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto  her and none else.’ (D&C 42:22.) “The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 310–11).

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“How do you determine your priority? Ask yourself: What do I really want, most of all? Compare your answer with the high standard revealed by your Creator. He said you are to ‘seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all . . . things shall be added unto you’ (JST, Matthew 6:38; see also Matthew 6:33a). You build up the kingdom of God as you place your family first. A husband’s highest priesthood duty is to love and care for his wife, to bless her and their children. A wife’s highest calling is to love her husband and nurture their children. As you serve the Lord, know that your ‘duty is unto the church forever, and this because of [your] family’ (D&C 23:3)” (Identity, Priority, and Blessings [CES fireside for young adults, 10 Sept. 2000, 5; Ensign, Aug. 2001, 11–12).

Suggestions from M. Russell Ballard (KEEPING LIFE’S DEMANDS IN BALANCE):

Use an Eternal Perspective to Set Priorities

Find some quiet time regularly to think deeply about where you are going and what you will need to do to get there.  Write down the tasks you would like to accomplish each day. Keep foremost in mind the sacred covenants you have made with the Lord as you write down your daily schedules.

Set Reasonable Short-Term Goals

Second, set short-term goals that you can reach. Set goals that are well balanced—not too many nor too few, and not too high nor too low. Write down your attainable goals and work on them according to their importance. Pray for divine guidance in your goal setting.

Become Financially Responsible and Secure

Through wise budgeting, control your real needs and measure them carefully against your many wants in life. Far too many individuals and families have incurred too much debt. Be careful of the many attractive offers to borrow money.  In my judgment, we never will have balance in our lives unless our finances are securely under control. Brothers and sisters, remember to always pay a full tithing.

Build Close Relationships with Family and Friends

Build relationships with your family and friends through open and honest communication. A good marriage and good family relationships can be maintained through gentle, loving, thoughtful communication. Remember that often a glance, a wink, a nod, or a touch will say more than words. A sense of humor and good listening are also vital parts of good communication.

Study the Scriptures

Fifth, study the scriptures. They offer one of the best sources we have to keep in touch with the Spirit of the Lord.

President Ezra Taft Benson has called upon members of the Church to make the study of the Book of Mormon a daily habit and a lifetime pursuit.

Rest, Exercise, and Relax

Sixth, many people, including me, have difficulty finding the time for sufficient rest, exercise, and relaxation. We must schedule time on our daily calendars for these activities if we are to enjoy a healthy and balanced life. Good physical appearance enhances our dignity and self-respect.

“Teach One Another the Gospel”

Seventh, the prophets have taught repeatedly that families should teach one another the gospel, preferably in a weekly family home evening.

Satan is always working to destroy our testimonies, but he will not have the power to tempt or disturb us beyond our strength to resist when we are studying the gospel and living its commandments.

Pray Often

My last suggestion is to pray often as individuals and as families. Parents need to exercise the discipline required to lead out and motivate children to join together for regular family prayers. Our youth can know the right decisions to make each day through constant, sincere prayer.

Do All Things in Wisdom and Order

Often the lack of clear direction and goals can waste away our time and energy and contribute to imbalance in our lives. Our main goal should be to seek “immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39). With this as our goal, why not eliminate from our lives the things that clamor for and consume our thoughts, feelings, and energies without contributing to our reaching that goal?

Help Rather than Hinder

Just a word to Church leaders: Be very careful that what you ask from members will help them attain eternal life. For Church members to be able to balance their lives, Church leaders must be sure they do not require so much from members that they have no time to accomplish their personal and family goals.

Do Your Best Each Day

Do the basic things and, before you realize it, your life will be full of spiritual understanding that will confirm to you that your Heavenly Father loves you. When a person knows this, then life will be full of purpose and meaning, making balance easier to maintain. Live every day with joy in your heart, brothers and sisters.

Priorities in: The Family: A Proclamation to the World

  • Parents have a responsibility to “love and care for each other.”
  • Parents have a responsibility to love and care “for their children.”
  • Parents should “rear their children in love and righteousness.”
  • Parents should “provide for their physical and spiritual needs.”
  • Parents should teach their children “to love and serve one another.”
  • Parents should teach their children “to observe the commandments of God.”
  • Parents should teach their children “to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

Conclusion: Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Just as the Lord was able to summarize His priorities so succinctly that it is his ‘work and . . . glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’ (Moses 1:39), so we, too, will need to be able to manage our time and talents in such a way that we, too, know our real priorities and focus on them. When we are settled in our hearts on that which really matters, then our talent and time as well as our treasure will be thus deployed!”

Lesson 15 – Mothers’ Employment Outside the Home

“And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown” (D&C 75:28).

PRINCIPLE

Marriage and family life improve when couples follow the counsel of prophets on supporting their family.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (student manual, 238–39) and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (student manual, 239–40).

  • Nurturing and bringing up children is more than a part-time job.
  • Mothers who work should be sure that it is to provide for necessities.
  • The Lord will bless mothers whose circumstances force them to work.
  • Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.
  • Some circumstances require individual adaptation.
  • Extended families should lend support.

“Sisters, guard your children. They live in a world of evil. The forces are all about them. I am proud of so many of your sons and daughters who are living good lives. But I am deeply concerned about many others who are gradually taking on the ways of the world. Nothing is more precious to you as mothers, absolutely nothing. Your children are the most valuable thing you will have in time or all eternity. You will be fortunate indeed if, as you grow old and look at those you brought into the world, you find in them uprightness of life, virtue in living, and integrity in their behavior. “I think the nurture and upbringing of children is more than a part-time responsibility. I recognize that some women must work, but I fear that there are far too many who do so only to get the means for a little more luxury and a few fancier toys.

“If you must work, you have an increased load to bear. You cannot afford to neglect your children. They need your supervision in studying, in working inside and outside the home, in the nurturing that only you can adequately give—the love, the blessing, the encouragement, and the closeness of a mother.”

“I recognize . . . that there are some women (it has become very many, in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 69; student manual, 239, 359).

Elder Howard W. Hunter (student manual, 240) and President Howard W. Hunter (“Provide Temporal Support,” student manual, 208).

  • Wives carry a heavy load of work within the home.
  • Women should get all the education and vocational training they can.
  • Women have claim on their husbands for support.
  • Husbands who for selfish reasons encourage their wives to work outside the home hamper their own spiritual progress.
  • Men who abandon their families and fail to support them are not eligible for a temple recommend.

President Ezra Taft Benson (student manual, 237–38).

  • Mothers should be at the crossroads for their children, whether their children are six or sixteen.
  • A family suffers when the mother is absent.
  • Recent societal trends have fostered discontent in women who have chosen the role of wife and mother.
  • It is propaganda that some women are more suited for work than for family.
  • Women should not sacrifice their preparation for marriage just to prepare to make money.
  • Children need more of mother than money.

“One apparent impact of the women’s movement has been the feelings of discontent it has created among young women who have chosen the role of wife and mother. They are often made to feel that there are more exciting and self-fulfilling roles for women than housework, diaper changing, and children calling for mother. This view loses sight of the eternal perspective that God elected women to the noble role of mother and that exaltation is eternal fatherhood and eternal motherhood. [‘To the Elect Women of the Kingdom of God,’ Nauvoo Illinois Relief Society Dedication, 30 June 1978.]” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 506–7, 548–49).

“There are voices in our midst which would attempt to convince you that these home-centered truths are not applicable to our present-day conditions. If you listen and heed, you will be lured away from your principal obligations. “Beguiling voices in the world cry out for ‘alternative life-styles’ for women. They maintain that some women are better suited for careers than for marriage and motherhood.

“These individuals spread their discontent by the propaganda that there are more exciting and selffulfilling roles for women than homemaking. Some even have been bold to suggest that the Church move away from the ‘Mormon woman stereotype’ of homemaking and rearing children. They also say it is wise to limit your family so you can have more time for personal goals and self-fulfillment” (“The Honored Place of Woman,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 105).

President Spencer W. Kimball (student manual, 237).

  • Only in an emergency should women seek outside employment.
  • Many divorces can be traced to the day the wife left home for the workforce.
  • Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond the norm.
  • No career approaches the importance of wife, homemaker, and mother.
  • Some people afford luxuries but say they cannot afford children.
  • Only a mother can fulfill the role of mother.

“The husband is expected to support his family and only in an emergency should a wife secure outside employment. Her place is in the home, to build the home into a heaven of delight. “Numerous divorces can be traced directly to the day when the wife left the home and went out into the world into employment. Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond its norm. Two spouses working prevent the complete and proper home life, break into the family prayers, create an independence which is not cooperative, causes distortion, limits the family and frustrates the children already born. . . . “. . . I beg of you, you who could and should be bearing and rearing a family: Wives, come home from the typewriter, the laundry, the nursing, come home from the factory, the café. “No career approaches in importance that of wife, homemaker, mother—cooking meals, washing dishes, making beds for one’s precious husband and children. “Come home, wives, to your husbands. Make home a heaven for them. Come home wives, to your children, born and unborn. Wrap the motherly cloak about you and unembarrassed help in a major role to create the bodies for the immortal souls who anxiously wait. “When you have fully complemented your husband in home life and borne the children, growing up full of faith, integrity, responsibility and goodness, then you have achieved your accomplishments supreme, without peer, and you will be the envy through time and eternity” (fireside address in San Antonio, Texas, 27, 32–33).

Elders Boyd K. Packer and Richard G. Scott (student manual, 240).

  • Do not entrust your children to others so you can do non-motherly work.
  • It is a sin to fail to teach children.
  • Mothers who work out of necessity are entitled to extra inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who work for lesser reasons are not.

Elder Henry B. Eyring’s statement in the preface of the student manual (p. viii):

“In our own time, we have been warned with counsel on where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. Each of us who has listened has heard President Kimball give counsel on the importance of a mother in the home and then heard President Benson quote him, and we have heard President Hinckley quote them both. The Apostle Paul wrote that ‘in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Corinthians 13:1).

Discussion. Ways to support a family on a father’s income:

  • Faith and eternal priorities. See 1 Nephi 3:7 – How can the principle in this scripture apply to having the mother remain in the home?
  • Planning.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

To the priesthood. “Be smart about training your minds and hands for the future. . . . 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. Do not shortcircuit your education. “I am not suggesting that all of you should become professional men. What I am suggesting is this: whatever you choose to do, train for it. Qualify yourselves. . . . Regardless of the vocation you choose, you can speed your journey in getting there through education. . . . “Be smart. Do not forfeit the schooling that will enhance your future in order to satisfy your desire for immediate, fleeting pleasure. Cultivate the long view of your life. Most of you are going to be around for a good while” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 57; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 40).

Elder Howard W. Hunter

“There are impelling reasons for our sisters to plan toward employment also. We want them to obtain all the education and vocational training possible before marriage. If they become widowed or divorced and need to work, we want them to have dignified and rewarding employment. If a sister does not marry, she has every right to engage in a profession that allows her to magnify her talents and gifts” (“Prepare for Honorable Employment, Ensign, Nov. 1975, 124).

  • Determination. Don’t lose sight of the reasons for wanting to have the mother in the home. Unless we are determined to live this principle we can easily be persuaded to abandon it as a goal.
  • Discipline and sacrifice. There is a difference between needs and wants. How can we determine the difference?

Story. “They Lied to Me about Life—Life Is What You Are.”

“Right after my first novel was published I was interviewed by a large East Coast newspaper for a feature article. The reporters came to my home in Connecticut on a Saturday morning. They were two attractive and sophisticated New York women who had graduated from a prestigious Ivy League school. Both had achieved considerable success in journalism.

“The lead reporter was about 30, had been an editor of Seventeen magazine, had worked for several major publications, and was now a sought-after feature writer. She was dressed in the latest fashion and seemed the ultimately successful career woman.

“I must confess that I was a little chagrined as the morning progressed. I was trying so hard to give the appearance of a professional writer, but every few minutes one of my children would pop into the living room with a problem or a question. My boys were playing a noisy game in the family room, the stereo was on in the basement play room, and the phone would not stop ringing. Neighborhood friends ran in and out the doors, and finally, my 5-year-old (who had had enough of having to ‘stay out of the living room’) came bouncing in with a smile and plunked herself down on my lap.

“We finished the interview, which had taken about two hours, and the reporters got up to leave. The younger one asked if she could use my phone. As she left, the cool and sophisticated senior reporter walked over and sat down on the couch next to me.

“‘There’s something I want to tell you,’ she said intensely.

“I looked at her in surprise. Very slowly, she said, ‘I just want you to know that we were sold a lie.’

“‘What do you mean?’ I asked, totally puzzled.

“‘I mean, when I went to [university] they lied to us,’ she replied. ‘They told us we were brilliant, and that we had the obligation to seek success. We were told not to throw our lives away on husbands and children, but to go out into the world and to succeed. We were told that only through a professional career could we “find ourselves” or live a worthwhile life.

“‘I just want you to know that this morning I have realized it was all a lie. I have come to know that a career is not a life—it is only something you do until you find a life. Life is what you are.

“‘I would like to tell you I would trade all my so-called worldly success for one day of living your life.’

“These and other incidents in my life have developed in me a strong, practical conviction that, whenever possible, it is of critical importance that a mother stays at home with her children” (Jaroldeen Edwards, in “Following Christ in Service to Others,” Church News, 10 Mar. 1990, 8, 10).

CONCLUSION

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, “In terms of your happiness, in terms of the matters that make you proud or sad, nothing—I repeat, nothing—will have so profound an effect on you as the way your children turn out” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 67; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 50). Couples who follow the counsel of the prophets concerning the importance of mothers staying home with their children when possible will be blessed. Repeat Elder Scott’s statement that mothers who are in unusual circumstances and have no choice but to work outside the home will also be blessed.

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