15 And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.
16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.
17 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.
(2 Nephi 5:15-17)
Productivity is a key to happiness. We all have a basic human need to feel like we are accomplishing something of value. Therefore, a leader ought to be concerned with the productivity of his or her people.
During the month of November, I’m studying what the Book of Mormon teaches us about building communities. Some of the chapters I study will relate to the establishment of a secular organizations, while others are about organizing the church. In both cases, though, there is a common thread—what is required for a group of people to unite and function effectively as a team?
After his father’s death, Nephi was warned by the Lord that he should leave his brothers Laman and Lemuel, who had threatened his life, and “flee into the wilderness.” He took his family, the families of his other brothers, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph, and “all those who would go with me” and traveled to establish a new city, where they could live in peace (2 Nephi 5:5-6).
Away from the threats and the abuse, they were able to establish a community which lived together in peace and happiness. In the passage above, Nephi explains one of the reasons they were successful: they worked hard to achieve shared goals.
As their leader, Nephi did at least three things to encourage this hard work:
- He provided training. People can’t be productive if they don’t know how to do the work. People need useful skills in order to be productive, and Nephi taught them some of the skills he had previously mastered. He knew a thing or two about building resilient structures, having built a ship which carried the family across the ocean to the promised land. He knew about metalworking from creating several sets of plates. He taught his people all of these skills.
- He established a vision. He says, “I, Nephi, did build a temple,” but didn’t build it alone. But, as their leader, he championed shared goals which they could work toward together. His people caught the vision, and they worked hard to achieve the goal.
- He set a high standard of excellence. As he describes the progress on the temple, Nephi evaluates the quality of his people’s work in these words: “The workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.” He expected high quality work, and his people delivered it.
Today, I will remember that a happy team is a productive team. In all of the groups that I participate in—at work, at church, and at home—I will provide training as needed, I will establish or champion shared goals, and I will promote a high standard of excellence in the work we do.
Thanks Paul. One of the things I was reflecting on recently was God’s instructions to Adam in the garden…Genesis 2:15 reads, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Despite the garden already being in its paradisiacal state, the Lord commanded Adam to dress or care for the garden – and thus we see from the very start that the Lord wants us to be productive and industrious. The garden likely didn’t need to be dressed but Adam certainly needed to be actively engaged in a good cause. How much more important is it for us in our fallen state to likewise be productive!
Thanks for the comment, Aaron. I knew that we have had to eat our bread by the sweat of our brow since the Fall, but I hadn’t thought before about the necessity of work in the Garden of Eden. I am convinced that we have a fundamental need to be engaged in meaningful work in order to be happy.