President Brigham Young (1801–1877) gave us some practical advice on how to recognize Him whom we follow. “The difference between God and the Devil,” he said, “is that God creates and organizes, while the whole study of the Devil is to destroy.” In that contrast we have an important example of the reality of “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Remember that our Savior Jesus Christ always builds us up and never tears us down. We should apply the power of that example in the ways we use our time, including our recreation and our diversions. Consider the themes of the books, magazines, movies, television shows, and music we in the world have made popular by our patronage. Do the things portrayed in our chosen entertainment build up or tear down the children of God? During my lifetime I have seen a strong trend to set aside entertainment that builds up and dignifies the children of God and to replace it with portrayals and performances that are depressing, demeaning, and destructive. The powerful idea in this contrast is that whatever builds people up serves the cause of the Master, and whatever tears people down serves the cause of the adversary. We support one cause or the other every day by our patronage and by our thoughts and desires. This should remind us of our responsibility to support what is good and motivate us toward doing this in a way that will be pleasing to Him whose suffering offers us hope and whose example gives us direction.
Dallin H. Oaks, “The Atonement and Faith,” Ensign, April 2010
See also, Dallin H. Oaks, “Powerful Ideas,” October 1995 General Conference
I realize that there are some, perhaps many, for whom my urging you to capture leisure time cuts like a knife. You feel overwhelmed by the lack of time. You have left unfinished tasks in your Church calling. You’ve carried your scriptures all day but still not found a moment to open them. There is someone in your family who would be blessed by your thoughtful attention, but you haven’t gotten to them yet. You will go to a job tomorrow that barely pays enough to keep food on your table and pay your bills. There is a term paper or a project due soon that you are yet to start and there are examinations looming. Rather than finding ways to capture leisure time for learning, you are trying to decide what to leave undone.
There is another way to look at your problem of crowded time. You can see it as an opportunity to test your faith. The Lord loves you and watches over you. He is all-powerful, and He promised you this: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
That is a true promise. When we put God’s purposes first, He will give us miracles. If we pray to know what He would have us do next, He will multiply the effects of what we do in such a way that time seems to be expanded. He may do it in different ways for each individual, but I know from long experience that He is faithful to His word….
I cannot promise academic success or perfect families. Nor can I tell you the way in which He will honor His promise of adding blessings upon you. But I can promise you that if you will go to Him in prayer and ask what He would have you do next, promising that you will put His kingdom first, He will answer your prayer and He will keep His promise to add upon your head blessings, enough and to spare. Those apparent prison walls of “not enough time” will begin to recede, even as you are called to do more.
Henry B. Eyring, “Education for Real Life,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 6 May 2001
Don’t judge yourself by what you understand of your potential. Trust in the Lord and what He can do with your dedicated heart and willing mind (see D&C 64:34). Order your life more effectively and eliminate trivia, meaningless detail, and activity. They waste the perishable, fixed, and limited resource of time. Choose to emphasize those matters that have an eternal consequence.
Richard G. Scott, “Making the Right Choices” (CES fireside for Young Adults, Jan. 13, 2002)
A note about Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ work habits:
Elder Oaks has often quoted his motto, “Work first, play later.” His family jokes that it is really “Work first, play never.”
“I don’t do anything for fun. I just have fun at what I do,” he explains.
“Time is a stewardship, and my goal is simply not to waste any.”
(Don L. Searle, “Elder Dallin H. Oaks: ‘It Begins by Following the Other Apostles’,” Ensign, Jun 1984, 15.)
I am afraid my family would say the same about me: work first, play never!
Elder Oaks repeated similar counsel to students at Brigham Young University, shortly after his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“I know of no better words of advice on the subject of ceasing to be idle than to “work first and play after.” The discipline of forcing oneself to work first, until the job is completed–whether it be a daily assignment, a term paper, or other needed task–and only then to enjoy the pleasure of play, is a master secret of life. It bears immediate fruits in accomplishment, but its most important effects are long-range. In following this priority we learn self-discipline, which unlocks the door to undreamed-of accomplishments.
How do you spend your time? Are you the master of your time, or do others control it by flicking the switch on a television or by impromptu invitations to pleasures or diversions that you have no willpower to resist? Work first and play after.”
(Counsel for Students, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, BYU Devotional, 18 September 1984.)