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Spiritual Aspects of Self-Reliant Living


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North Harris College Branch
Sacrament Meeting
February 25, 2001

    Pres. Spencer W. Kimball in a conference address said, “I like the way the Relief Society teaches personal and family preparedness as ‘provident living.’ This implies the husbanding of our resources, the wise planning of financial matters, full provision for personal health, and adequate preparation for education and career development, giving appropriate attention to home production and storage as well as the development of emotional resiliency.”(Nov. 1977, p. 78)

    Bro. Dein has asked me to speak today on our obligation as members of the Church to live providently and to also discuss the spiritual aspects of self-reliant living. Provident living, self-reliance, and preparedness are all synonymous. I will be discussing what some of you will recognize as the 6 areas of personal and family preparedness. Traditionally, they are thought to apply to families rather than individuals but they are not just areas of FAMILY preparedness. They are areas of PERSONAL and family preparedness. The Church recognizes that there are a variety of kinds of families: the traditional with parents and children, childless couples, empty nesters, single parents, AND unmarried individuals. Each of these kinds of families has the same obligation to fulfill the counsel from the prophets to be self-reliant and prepared for life. The advantage that each of you has is that you only have to worry about 1 person rather than 2 or 6 or 8. Some of you are in a transition period – unmarried college years when your parents still provide some for you. But you should be doing far more than they to meet these responsibilities for yourself.

    The Church and its members have been commanded to be self-reliant and independent. In D&C 78:13-14 we read: "Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, and the foundation, and the ensample which I give unto you, whereby you may accomplish the commandments which are given you; That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world"

    Pres. Kimball in the same conference address mentioned earlier said “The responsibility for each person's social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself …No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own … well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life.”(Ensign Nov. 1977, pp. 77-78)

    In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul tells us: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

    When we accept the responsibility for our own well-being, we are better able to sustain ourselves in our everyday lives AND we are better prepared to endure times of adversity without becoming dependent upon others.

    As we work toward self-reliance, we should prepare ourselves in the following 6 areas: education; health; employment; home storage; resource management; and social, emotional, and spiritual strength. I would like to draw from the Church Welfare Handbook for our obligations in each of these areas.

When we have knowledge and wisdom, we are able to discern truth from error and make better choices in both spiritual and temporal matters. We are better able to understand God and our fellowmen, and we have a deeper love for them. The Lord has commanded us to gain knowledge. In various scriptures in the Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord has commanded us to learn the doctrine of the kingdom; the theory, principles, doctrine and laws of the gospel; things in heaven and in and under the earth; things which are and must come to pass; things at home and abroad; wars and perplexities of the nations; judgments on the land; knowledge of countries and kingdoms; history; and the laws of man. In other words, learn everything we can about all there is to learn about that is good. To become self-reliant, we should-
    • Improve our ability to read, write, and do basic mathematics.
    • Study the scriptures and other good books.
    • Learn to communicate effectively with others.
    • Take advantage of opportunities to gain more knowledge (Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school.)

One of the reasons we came to earth was to obtain bodies, a necessary step in becoming like our Father in Heaven. The Lord has commanded us to keep our bodies and minds healthy. When we do, we are better able to take care of our own needs and serve others. To become self-reliant, we should-
    • Obey the Word of Wisdom. This is a commandment of do’s as well as don’t’s.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Provide for adequate medical and dental care, including appropriate insurance where possible.
    • Keep our homes and surroundings clean and sanitary.
    • Shun substances or practices that abuse our bodies or minds.

When we have honorable employment, we are able to provide for ourselves, our families, and others by working as the Lord has commanded. Suitable employment also gives us opportunities to improve our talents and develop the divine attributes within us. We are happier if our employment suits our interests and abilities and meets our needs. The Lord has commanded us to work and provide for the needs of ourselves and our families. D&C 42:42 states: “Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” To become self-reliant, we should-
    • Prepare for and carefully select a suitable occupation.
    • Become skilled at our work through training and experience.
    • Be diligent, hard working, and trustworthy.
    • Give honest work for the pay and benefits we receive.

In order to be self-reliant, we should have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. We are therefore counseled to store, use, and know how to produce and prepare essential items. We are more secure if we are able to provide for ourselves in times of adversity. In 1937, Pres. J. Rueben Clark admonished “Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds.”

    Church leaders have never given an exact formula for what members should store. But they have suggested that we begin by storing what would be required to keep us alive in case we did not have anything else to eat. Those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, dried legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil. When we have stored enough of these essentials to meet the basic needs of our families for one year, we may decide to add other items that we are accustomed to eating. We should regularly use and replace all stored items in order to keep them from spoiling.

    Most Church members have the means to store a year's supply of the basic items needed to sustain life. Some, however, do not have the money or space for such storage. These members should try to store as much as they can according to their circumstances. Pres. James E. Faust stated, “It is …necessary that each home and family do what they can to assume the responsibility for their own hour of need. If we do not have the resources to acquire a year’s supply then we can strive to begin with having one month’s supply.” All members can provide themselves with added security by learning to produce and prepare basic food items.

    Some of you may feel that you are not obligated to have food storage until you have a family. That is not true. I have a good friend in The Woodlands who didn’t marry until her mid-30’s. She hadn’t seen the need to store food, either. But there was a time in her unmarried life that she desperately needed food storage and didn’t have it. It was a hard lesson that taught her that not having a family is no excuse for disobedience to prophetic counsel. If you need help getting started, call me. Bro. Dein knows where to find me. I can show you how to get a month’s supply for about $20.

We should be wise stewards by exercising good judgment in managing and replenishing the resources with which the Lord has blessed us. In 2 Nephi 9:51 we read: "Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy."

 In D&C 104:13 it says: "For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures."

 To become self-reliant, we should-
    • Pay tithes and offerings. This is our greatest financial protection. The Lord has promised that He will open the windows of heaven if we are faithful in paying our tithes. Pres. Kimball reminds us that those windows can be opened in many ways. He explained, “He can give us better salaries,…more judgment in the spending of our money,…better health,…[and] greater understanding so that we can get better positions.” (Ensign, Feb 2001, p. 69)
    • Avoid unnecessary debt and save for the future.
    • Satisfy all of our promised obligations.
    • Use our resources frugally and avoid wasting them.
    • Use our time wisely.
    • Be willing to serve those in need by sharing our time, talents, and resources with them.

We should strive to live righteously, to develop good relationships with family members and others, and to feel good about ourselves. To become self-reliant, we should-
    • Study the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets.
    • Obey God's commandments and heed the counsel of Church leaders.
    • Exercise faith in Christ and cultivate humility.
    • Pray frequently and fervently.
    • Strengthen our relationships with family members, neighbors, and friends.
    • Shun things that are morally and spiritually degrading.
    • Work toward worthy goals.
    • Do the best we can to adjust to change and recover from misfortune.

    Why are these 6 areas important? Because as we are more able to care for ourselves we become more able to care for others.

    Why should we be concerned about serving others? D&C 42:29  "If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. "

 Matthew 10:39  "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."

    I’m sure you understand that losing our life doesn’t have to do with dying. It is losing ourselves in the service of others.

    Pres. Marion G. Romney stated, “We lose our life by serving and lifting others. By so doing we experience the only true and lasting happiness. Service is not something we endure on this earth so we can earn the right to live in the celestial kingdom. Service is the very fiber of which an exalted life in the celestial kingdom is made.”

    He goes on to say, “Without self-reliance one cannot exercise …innate desires to serve. How can we give if there is nothing there? Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak.” (Ensign June 1984, p.6)

    He also instructs us that “Doctrine and Covenants 29:34-35 tells us there is no such thing as a temporal commandment, that all commandments are spiritual. It also tells us that man is to be an agent unto himself.’ Man cannot be an agent unto himself is he is not self-reliant. Herein we see that independence and self-reliance are critical keys to our spiritual growth. Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.”

    Brothers and Sisters, if we are to grow spiritually, enjoy our freedom to choose and act, and live an exalted life in the celestial kingdom, we must be self-reliant. We must live providently and strive to be prepared for what life will hand us.

    I would like to close with a quote again by Pres. Romney. “Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation, in temporal as well as in spiritual things.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 167)

    Testimony – obedience brings peace and sense of well-being and allows more time to focus on spiritual


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