The Laborers in the Vineyard
by Elder Jeffery R. Holland
from the 2012 April LDS General Conference
(I appoligize for the format. I was in a hurry and will fix it later)
(I appoligize for the format. I was in a hurry and will fix it later)
1. Tell the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in your own words.
Ask the sisters if they think this is fair, or what their feelings may be. See if anyone has a problem with it. Share your own feelings on this.
2. Read the quote from the talk:
"Indeed, if there is any sympathy to be generated, it should at least initially be for the men chosen who also had mouths to feed and backs to clothe. Luck never seemed to be with some of them. With each visit of the steward throughout the day, they always saw someone else chosen.”
Talk about this a little bit.
3. Elder Holland goes on to say:
"But just at day’s close, the householder returns a surprising fifth time with a remarkable eleventh-hour offer! These last and most discouraged of laborers, hearing only that they will be treated fairly, accept work without even knowing the wage, knowing that anythingwill be better than nothing, which is what they have had so far. Then as they gather for their payment, they are stunned to receive the same as all the others! How awestruck they must have been and how very, very grateful! Surely never had such compassion been seen in all their working days.
It is with that reading of the story that I feel the grumbling of the first laborers must be seen. As the householder in the parable tells them (and I paraphrase only slightly): “My friends, I am not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage for the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I am very happy with the way you served. You are paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the others, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money.” Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?”
Talk about this quote a little bit.
4. This is where Elder Holland makes his first point. Have someone read quote #1:
“Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.”
What is his first point?
Write #1. Do not envy on the board. Discuss the dangers of jealousy. Point out that “envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving.”
5. Write Elder Holland’s second point on the board: #2. Do not give up your blessings. Share how Elder Holland talks about how someone might have thrown “his coin in the householder’s face and stormed off penniless.
6. Have someone read quote #2:
“My beloved brothers and sisters, what happened in this story at 9:00 or noon or 3:00 is swept up in the grandeur of the universally generous payment at the end of the day. The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours—real or imagined—fall away in the abundance of the final reward. Don’t dwell on old issues or grievances—not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, toward this true and living Church. The majesty of your life, of your neighbor’s life, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be made manifest at the last day, even if such majesty is not always recognized by everyone in the early going. So don’t hyperventilate about something that happened at 9:00 in the morning when the grace of God is trying to reward you at 6:00 in the evening—whatever your labor arrangements have been through the day.”
How does this relate to our lives? Let’s take a close look at the grudges that we hold, and the things in our past that might be keeping us from our blessings. Discuss with the sisters.
7.. Have someone read quote #3:
“We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold over his or her head for another 20, or an incident in Church history that proved no more or less than that mortals will always struggle to measure up to the immortal hopes placed before them. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end with you. And what a reward there will be for that contribution when the Lord of the vineyard looks you in the eye and accounts are settled at the end of our earthly day.” Discuss with the sisters.
8. Read this quote:
“Which leads me to my third and last point. This parable—like all parables—is not really about laborers or wages any more than the others are about sheep and goats. This is a story about God’s goodness, His patience and forgiveness, and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.” Write #3. God is merciful. Discuss with the sisters.
9. Have someone read quote #4:
“I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
You go on to read:
“there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized.” Wow, that is quite a statement! Is that how society wants us to think? Is that how we think? Discuss with the sisters this statement.
10. Have someone read quote #5:
“I especially make an appeal for husbands and fathers, priesthood bearers or prospective priesthood bearers, to, as Lehi said, “Awake! and arise from the dust … and be men.” Not always but often it is the men who choose not to answer the call to “come join the ranks.” Women and children frequently seem more willing. Brethren, step up. Do it for your sake. Do it for the sake of those who love you and are praying that you will respond. Do it for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid an unfathomable price for the future He wants you to have.”
How can we, as sisters, help the men around us to answer this call?
11. Take the time to discuss the blessing that come from being an early laborer in the vineyard. If you could chose to be an earlier labor, or one that comes at the eleventh hour, which would you choose? Discuss with the sisters.
12. End by reading the quote:
“So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Here is a handout for the lesson. You can copy it and paste it into your word program and make it whatever size that you need.