Sep 27, 2007

A Piece of Work or A Masterpiece?

By Kari Diane Pike

For the past couple of months, I have been taking a course in adult developmental psychology. I am fascinated by the way the brain develops and the workings of the mind. One chapter looks at the reasons we choose different occupations and the way those occupations affect our lives. Several pages in the text are devoted to explaining the difference between “job” and “work.”

A job is described as “an activity one performs because one has to do it, and it provides no intrinsic reward in itself but only some extrinsic payoff.” In other words, you do the job so you can get the paycheck. There is little to no inner satisfaction as a result. Work, on the other hand is defined as, “an activity one performs because one has to do it, but it also provides a high degree of intrinsic motivation because the activity itself is personally satisfying to the individual.” The text further explains that most of our activities lie somewhere in between the two extremes. Depending on our frame of mind, we can find some kind of satisfaction in doing our best work, and many times we even get some type of external reward…like a paycheck!

As I studied these concepts, the words in Moses 1:39 kept coming to mind: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Since I am in a home-study program, I rely on the wit and wisdom of my spouse to help me think things through. Doug related a talk he heard during his mission from Hartman Rector, Jr. Elder Rector explained that the Savior’s “work” was to bring to pass our immortality. He did this when he overcame death and rose on the third day and assured that we, too, will rise again – spirit and body together – in an immortal state. The “glory” of the Lord is to bring about our eternal life. He made it possible for us to be forgiven of all our sins and to enter back into the presence of our Eternal Father in Heaven and experience life as He knows it; a quality of life far beyond our mortal understanding.

How does this apply to my life right now? The French word used for “work” is “travailler.” It is used to describe not only one’s occupation, but can also be used for the English word “masterpiece.” If I look at my “job” or my “work” and recognize the intrinsic rewards – in other words, change my perspective – I will discover great treasures of joy and peace and understanding. My mind will be enlightened; my burdens will become stewardships. As a writer, I want to see each piece I write become a masterpiece. As a mother, each child is a masterpiece. As a wife, my relationship with my husband is a masterpiece, as is my work as a daughter, sister, and friend. Because of the Atonement, and the Savior’s sacrifice, someday, you and I can become a masterpiece. We are “his work and his glory.”


  1. Pretty deep stuff. I was once corresponding with a physics professor and told him I always thought there was more to the line "I am the light and life of the world" than the obvious meaning. Isn't that what makes the scriptures so "new" every time we read them? There is always another meaning, sometimes deeper, sometimes just takes us in a different direction.

  2. When I first read your line, "The French word used for 'work' is 'travailler'," I thought of the word "travail." I believe some of us do fall into the trap of looking at our "jobs" as a "travail", rather than a "masterpiece of work". What a difference an accurate definitition can make!

    I was so impressed with the difference between "job" and "work", and the insight it gives us into the Lord's "work and bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." I'll be reading this verse with increased understanding after this.

  3. Thank you, Kari, for again expanding my understanding. I'm reminded of the old story that went something like this: Three masons were busily building a stone wall. A passer=by asked each one separately what he was doing. The first one said, "Laying stones in mortar." The second, "I'm building a wall." The third one looked up and proudly said, "I am building a cathedral to God."

    Our life and our hapiness seem to be a matter of perspective. Even little choices can make or break us.Thanks again for your keen insight.

  4. Really, Kari, you never cease to amaze me. Shouldn't you be submitting these muses to the Ensign or something? They really need a wider audience - they are sooooo good! Thanks for helping me study the scriptures better.


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