28 October 2011

Self-Reliance and Preparedness

I was recently called as our ward's Welfare Specialist, and my Bishop has me working on a couple of projects for our ward that have got me studying the principles of welfare in the Lord's Church. I thought some of this stuff might be interesting to others, plus, a blog is a useful tool to organize it all as I get my thoughts straight in these projects, so here it is. There are some wonderful quotes, council, and promises associated with self-reliance.

What is Self-Reliance?



Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others.
Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.
-Handbook 2, section 6.1.1




Since the beginning of time man has been counseled to earn his own way, thereby becoming self-reliant. It is easy to understand the reason why the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself. -Marion G. Romney, "The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance," October 1982 General Conference, emphasis added.



President David O. McKay said, “Let us … realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that [the] power to work is a blessing, that love [of] work is success” (True to the Faith, comp. Llewelyn R. McKay, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 287), Quoted by Franklin D. Richards in "Personal and Family Financial Preparedness, April 1979 General Conference.



ProvidentLiving.org breaks self-reliance and family well-being into several topics: employment, finances, gardening, home storage, physical health, social and emotional strength, combating pornography, education, and emergency preparedness.


Doctrinal Basis of Self-Reliance


In modern revelation, the Lord has given us these commandments: “Verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts” (D&C 104:78). And again: “Pay the debt thou hast contracted. … Release thyself from bondage” (D&C 19:35).

President Joseph F. Smith advised the Saints to “get out of debt and keep out of debt, and then you will be financially as well as spiritually free” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1903, p. 5).
-Franklin D. Richards, Personal and Financial Family Preparedness, April 1979 General Conference



In 1936 the First Presidency outlined a welfare plan for the Church. They said: “Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 3). -Handbook 2, section 6.1



“If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).



Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work –Exodus 20:9



“Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” [D&C 42:42.]


There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven, upon which all blessings are predicated, and no man will get the blessing without fulfilling the law [see D&C 130:20–21]. I wish to impress upon the Latter-day Saints that we get in this life what we work for, and I want to urge every Latter-day Saint to be a worker.
-Heber J. Grant, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church - Heber J. Grant, Work and Self-Reliance.


Why do you think the Lord has given us these commandments? Why is it important for us to work for what we receive? How can failure to be self-reliant affect us individually? as families? in our communities and nations?

Self Reliance is an Act of Faith

As in any area where the Lord gives us direction, obedience to the council given about self-reliance is more about faith than it is about anything else. Wherever the Lord gives commandments he opens a way to obey. This is true with self-reliance and preparedness as well. As the prophets and scriptures have taught, the distinctions between "spiritual" commandments and "temporal" commandments are artificial, and thus not useful. If we have the faith to begin to increase our self-reliance then the Lord will teach us the things we need to succeed.

Preparedness is Like Noah's Ark


In his teachings, Paul said:

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen … prepared an ark to the saving of his house.” (Heb. 11:7.)

President Kimball gives us this insight to Noah and the ark:
“As yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. … His warnings were considered irrational. … How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. … The floods came. The disobedient … were drowned. The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972, pp. 5–6.) ...


I wonder how many Saints will be able to withstand the disaster of their own personal flood by showing faith in the advice of modern prophets and building an ark of family preparedness.
-Loren C. Dunn (70), Building Bridges of Faith, April 1981 General Conference



“The revelation to store food may be as essential to our temporal salvation today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah” -Elder Ezra Taft Benson (“Prepare Ye,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 69).



Blessings of Self-Reliance


In 1941 the Gila River overflowed and flooded the Duncan Valley in Arizona. A young stake president by the name of Spencer W. Kimball met with his counselors, assessed the damage, and sent a telegram to Salt Lake City asking for a large sum of money.
Instead of sending money, President Heber J. Grant sent three men: Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney, and Harold B. Lee. They visited with President Kimball and taught him an important lesson: “This isn’t a program of ‘give me,’” they said. “This is a program of ‘self-help.’”
Many years later, President Kimball said: “It would have been an easy thing, I think, for the Brethren to have sent us [the money,] and it wouldn’t have been too hard to sit in my office and distribute it; but what a lot of good came to us as we had hundreds of [our own] go to Duncan and build fences and haul the hay and level the ground and do all the things that needed doing. That is self-help.”
By following the Lord’s way, the members of President Kimball’s stake not only had their immediate needs met, but they also developed self-reliance, alleviated suffering, and grew in love and unity as they served each other. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Providing in the Lord's Way, Ensign, Nov 2011, emphasis added


Things We Ought To Do


We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. … Make your garden as neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities” -Spencer W. Kimball (“Family Preparedness,” Ensign, May 1976, 124, emphasis added).


“I quote with pleasure … from Lord Bulwer Lytton: ‘What man wants is not talent, it is purpose; not power to achieve, but the will to labor.’ Samuel Smiles has said: ‘Purposes, like eggs, unless they are hatched into action, will run into decay.’
-Heber J. Grant, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church - Heber J. Grant, Work and Self-Reliance.



The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.
We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and in political, temporal, and spiritual independence.
-Marion G. Romney, The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance, Oct 1982 General Conference



There is a spirit growing in the world today to avoid giving service, an unwillingness to give value received, to try to see how little we can do and how much we can get for doing it. This is all wrong. Our spirit and aim should be to do all we possibly can, in a given length of time, for the benefit of those who employ us and for the benefit of those with whom we are associated.
The other spirit—to get all we can, and give as little as possible in return—is contrary to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
-Heber J. Grant, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church - Heber J. Grant, Work and Self-Reliance.

    “I quote with pleasure … from Lord Bulwer Lytton: ‘What man wants is not talent, it is purpose; not power to achieve, but the will to labor.’ Samuel Smiles has said: ‘Purposes, like eggs, unless they are hatched into action, will run into decay.'
-Heber J. Grant, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church - Heber J. Grant, Work and Self-Reliance.

3 comments:

Jeannetta said...

Excellent! I'd never heard the story about the AZ flood. I love so deeply the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the organization that it encompasses.
Congratulations on your new calling!

Anne Chovies said...

Sounds like this will keep you busy if everythingelse isn't already!

Ritsumei said...

Yeah, the calling - and the gospel - are definitely plenty to keep me busy! But it's a good kind of busy.

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