|Harvest Time in France, James T. Harwood|
When I was doing my student teaching in a 7th grade classroom at a local junior high school, I decided that when I had my own classroom one day, one of the first things I wanted to do was write the word "earn" on the board and discuss what that word means.
When you look up the word these days through a simple google search, the first definition is "obtain money" either through labor or even as a prize or an event that requires no work.
That isn't the definition I want to talk about. The definition I am interested in is the one that is tied to the Old English word esne, which means "laborer." Connected to that root word is this definition for earn: gain or incur deservedly for one's behavior or achievements.
I would change the word "achievements" to "work."
In a classroom setting, I believe this concept is important because I think grades should be earned. Not necessarily by how many answers you get right on a piece of paper--but by the work and time you are willing to give to understanding something or someone, by participating in class and discussions, and by steady improvement throughout the year. Basically, to earn in the classroom and in life is to sincerely try. That's what I think, anyway. Hard to measure on paper? Yes.
I like this illustration from the life of Neal A. Maxwell:
So in life, what is it we are trying to earn? What are the rewards? Prestige? Money? Friends? Praise? Power?
Those always sound good.
That's why it is so hard to train myself to remember the things that I really should be trying to earn and which should be taking the most of my time and effort: Family. Trust. The Spirit of God . Peace of mind and conscience. [I hesitate to put love and forgiveness on this list--because I feel like those are gifts...not something we necessarily we "earn."]
I believe that these things are earned by following the pattern that God set through prophets of old (as recorded in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon), that Jesus Christ said and set during his life on earth (as recorded in the New Testament). And that He continues to teach us the same principles through His prophets and through the Spirit today. Just like earning prestige and money and friends and praise requires work and effort, these things require energy and purposeful planning and striving. And the benefits of family, trust, the Spirit, and peace of mind are far more lasting and permanent and joy-giving than the benefits of any of those other things.
"The battle between good and evil is not new. But today a much higher percentage of people mistakenly concludes that there is not a moral, righteous standard to which all people should adhere."
"Lucifer has created a counterfeit or illusion of happiness that is inconsistent with righteousness and will mislead us if we are not vigilant. Many of our problems today occur because the secular world has been pursuing an incorrect definition of happiness."
"The Lord God is indeed a sun and shield and will give grace and glory. No good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly (see Psalm 84:11). My prayer is that you may reap the rewards of righteousness as you faithfully follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Quentin L. Cook, Reaping the Rewards of Righteousness
Who gets tired of trying/working at least 10 times a day....maybe more. baby steps.