In recent training for priesthood leaders from China and Hong Kong, Elder Quentin L. Cook’s guidance included a valuable reminder to be fair to our employers and not disappoint them. He quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley who said “You must not rob your employer of the time and
energy that are rightfully his.” This principle has been taught many times, but busy priesthood leaders may benefit from a reminder not to take shortcuts with our employers and to not only be fair, but to be productive and valuable as employees.
Here is the context of a statement from President Hinckley on not robbing employers from his October 1988 Conference address, “To the Bishops of the Church“:
I know that the work is hard at times. There are never enough hours to
get it done. The calls are numerous and frequent. You have other things
to do. That is true. You must not rob your employer of the time and
energy that are rightfully his. You must not rob your family of time
which belongs to them. But as most of you have come to know, as you seek
for divine guidance, you are blessed with wisdom beyond your own and
strength and capacity you did not know you had. It is possible to budget
your time so that you neglect neither your employer, your family, nor
Also, in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 21, 2003, President Hinckley said, “You have an obligation. Be honest with your employer. Do not do Church work on his time” (as cited by Claudio R. M. Costa, “Priesthood Responsibilities,” April 2009 General Conference).
Each of us will have to struggle with this to make sure we really are profitable employees and diligent and faithful stewards at work. I write this fully aware of the challenges and temptations (yes, temptations) that Church service can bring in our employment. For example, to attend the Saturday morning regional training in Hong Kong where I would be inspired and uplifted by Elder Cook and several other General Authorities, I had to take a day off work since that particular Saturday was on one of those annoying Chinese holiday weekends where the government asks Chinese companies to have everybody work on a Saturday or Sunday to compensate for an extra day or two during the week. In this case, a one-day Tuesday holiday, the Dragon Boat Festival, became a generous 3-day holiday (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday) by having us work on Saturday.
Further, in order to catch the flight from Shanghai to get to Hong Kong at a reasonable time, I had to leave work an hour early. I tried to compensate by coming into work early and obtaining permission from my boss to do this, but it’s fair to say I would have been a better employee by being there longer on Friday and being there all day on Saturday. Perhaps if I have been more inspired, I would have sensed that my 6:40 PM flight would be delayed by four hours and there would be no need to leave early! Fortunately, I got to my hotel at a “reasonable” time, 2:30 AM, and managed to get 4 hours of sleep and honestly didn’t feel tired at all during the training event. It was well worth my sacrifice of time, but I need to ensure that the sacrifice is mine and not my employers’.
Our company President recently gave a speech reminding employees that they should appreciate the company. It’s a fair expectation in an era where many feel entitled to all sorts of things that aren’t theirs to claim. To have a meaningful job and to have consistent pay and benefits is nothing to take for granted. Ideally, we Latter-day Saints should be good examples not only in how we raise our families or help our neighbors, but in how we benefit our employers and fulfill our duties faithfully at work. Being able to do this while holding a demanding Church calling and caring for our family will require diligent preparation, careful delegation, daily prayer to be led out of temptation and to faithfully earn our daily bread, and keen awareness of where the boundaries are that we must not cross.
The companies we work for put trust in us and often have invested a lot in us, and we employees have a duty to live up to these expectations and should strive to do more. Employees sometime may dislike many things a company does or the way it does things, but those discontents do not justify shortcuts, slacking, or any other form of unfairness to the company. LDS employees with heavy callings and family duties may feel overwhelmed and will often need the Lord’s help to do things properly, but we can do what is asked with the Lord’s help while also following this important command: “Do not rob your employer.”