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The Value of Work in the Church

by EmilyCC

When I was younger, my first thought when I came to a new ward was, “Ok, where are the Mormons who are like me?,” meaning, where are the people who are liberal, feminist, intelligent? (sigh, I can be so modest…)

But, the longer I’m in the Church and the more callings I have, the more I’ve realized that I don’t care as much to find the people who are like me in my ward (and I’m not nearly as smart as I once thought I was). It’s always a lovely perk to find those kindred spirits, but I don’t expect it. Thanks to the Internet, I can use Exponent II and the Bloggernacle to fill that void.

I belong to the Church to become a better person and to help other people. So, when I go to Church, when I participate in and plan activities, I’m ready to get to work.

These days, I look, instead, for the other members who are there to work: the people who give the talks assigned on Saturday night because no one else would, the people who have the high needs Visiting and Home Teaching assignments and do them with grace, the people who never complain about a presidency meeting. I learn from their positive examples and from the very different ways they go about their callings because um, I’m not as good about those things I just mentioned.

I’ve yet to meet a member of the Church who works hard at his or her calling that I can’t get along with (I’ve been lucky), and more often than not, I become friends with these members who I wouldn’t become friends with if we didn’t have the Church in common.

Tonight, I went visiting teaching with my newly converted companion. I sat in one teachee’s house and looked at the three of us. We all belong to different generations, we’ve led such different lives, and yet, I thought, “These women’s lives are so different from mine. But, I love them; they are my friends.”

My friends outside the Church are like me—we share spiritual, political, cultural values. We’re often about the same age, work in similar fields. We even drive similar cars.

But, my friends in the Church are all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, even races. Our commonalities are a love for the Church and a commitment to work to build the Kingdom of God. And, although we may have different ideas about how to build that kingdom, I think more often than not we can see the value in the other’s ways of contributing.

I think sometimes how nice it would be to go to an X2 Relief Society—can you imagine getting a lesson from Eve, Lynette, Deborah, Jana, etc. every week? I’ve seen other churches organize by interests instead of geographical boundaries. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

But, I know I’ve grown going to my own ward. These people are my neighbors, my community. As we work together, I love them, and they love me.

This is one of my favorite aspects of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

*artwork: Visitation by Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503


EmilyCC lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She currently serves as a stake Just Serve specialists, and she recently returned to school to become a nurse. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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No Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Emily, I haven’t yet progressed to the point where I don’t wish to be in a RS with Deborah, Eve, etc. That sounds like heaven to me! 🙂 But I very much appreciate your point.
    I think you’ve hit on one of the most important aspects of the Church: the fact that we have to work and associate and love people we wouldn’t normally choose to be around.

    Of course, that’s usually not in the forefront of my mind as I gripe about certain irritations I encounter in church structure and policy. But it should be.

    Eugene England wrote a seminal essay on this exact topic: Why the Church is as True as the Gospel. Bummer I can’t find a link to it at the moment.

  2. GettingTired says:

    I wish more people could get that feeling into their hearts. It seems lately that almost everyone I meet is looking for what the Church can do for them. And if a certain program or event it isn’t beneficial to them, all the do is criticize. It gets so old after a while. Your ideas need to be shouted from the rooftops.

  3. Kate says:

    Well said.

  4. jeans says:

    Thanks, EmilyCC. Hey, didn’t you get asked to do a class on internet safety for youth as part of your ward-work recently? I never heard how it went.

  5. EmilyCC says:

    Caroline, GettingTired, and Kate, thanks for the kind words.

    Jeans, I was just thinking I need to get working on that! It’s a workshop for Girl’s Camp, which is in about a month. But, if I come up with something good, I’ll send it to your blog.

  6. jeans says:

    Even if you don’t think it’s good, EmilyCC!

  7. SilverRain says:

    I feel this same way. I’m not yet fitting into my ward, but I’m getting there.

    Since I’m not a typical liberal feminist (though I like to think of myself as at least moderately intelligent), know that it isn’t limited to you. Most people feel this at one time or another.

  8. Breena says:

    An X2 RS would indeed be heaven, but I doubt it would force me to look as deeply at my own prejudices. Moving into a very conservative Arizona ward several months ago was a shock and at first extremely lonely. I too kept wondering if there was anyone at least a little bit like me. I felt judged and misjudged and often belittled. Getting to know a few wonderful women in the ward who happen to be in their 70s (40 years older than me) has given me some hope and helped me see over some of the walls I’ve put up. I would love to be where you are with it, Emily, and hope that I’m moving in that direction. But I’d still jump at the chance to attend the X2 Relief Society.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    SilverRain, I think you make an excellent point here–just about everyone feels alone in a ward at some point.

    Breena, those AZ wards can be tough–Jessawhy and I are both in AZ. I have to admit I’ve felt more content since we started doing AZ bloggersnackers. If you’re interested, we’ll be organizing one this summer–my email is clyde underscore (_) curtis at yahoo dot com

  10. Shane G. says:


    Don’t give up on us. We love having you guys in the ward!

  11. Kiri Close says:

    At 35, I’m actually drained from being a member. This church has worked me all my life (oi vay)! I just left an area in Boston where I felt so strongly to ‘thrust in the sickle’ (oddly, a violent phrase I hate using, but means what I want it to say here) and give all of who I am to a budding YW’s program in Boston.

    That was, like, 2 whole years of my life! But it felt right, and good, and satisfying, and my serving fulfilled so many different meaningful purposes: obedience to temple covenants, hopeful (not zealous!) spreading of the Gospel of which I LOVE, giving teen gals in our ward area new realizations about substances, guys, street smarts, edge, and God.

    But the most fulfilling part for me was gaining some lifetime friends in my counselors. I now know who I can trust and depend on wholly based on what I’ve seen these women do (and move mountains they have!—not just once, but throughout their entire service)–unbelievable commitment.

    It is no lie that true friends are hard to find. But from my serving in the church alongside other sisters, I have found true friends.

    I now temporarily live in Nebraska and will be traditionally jobless for a little while here (by choice). Don’t get me wrong–I normally try to run away from callings (yes, friends, lazy is indeed in my DNA) and no doubt I will be zapped with one that will bust my tail off (hopefully not since I’m burnt out from the last stint and being the Assistant to the Assistant Sacrament Meeting Door Greeter is a simple, no fuss calling I wouldn’t mind having).

    In any case, I am hoping those I serve with will also be listed amongst my faves, BFFs, true friends. For me, this has been my value of work in the church I love and scrutinize.

  12. EmilyCC says:

    ShaneG (a member of my ward’s bishopric) and his wife are definitely some of the best workers in our ward and some of our favorite friends there.

    Kiri, another great testimony to the importance of work. Thank you for sharing!

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