Becoming Self-Reliant

Becoming Self-Reliant
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, October 1936, page 3).

Our Area Presidency has counseled us to be self-reliant. To achieve this, we must reach out to the foundation of the units, which are our families that make up those units. If we manage to get each member of our families to become personally self-reliant, we will achieve self-reliance as families, and then as wards, stakes, missions, and as an Area. We will then have the capacity to bless the lives of others.

“The foundation of self-reliance is hard work. Parents should teach their children that work is the prerequisite to achievement and success in every worthwhile endeavor. Children of legal age should secure productive employment and begin to move away from dependence on parents. None of us should expect others to provide for us that which we can provide for ourselves” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Fruits of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ”, General Conference, October 1991).

Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As we members become self-reliant, we will also be better able to serve and care for others.

As members of the Church, we are responsible for our own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, we have the privilege and duty to set our own course, solve our problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.

In Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that the Lord expects us to do many things of our own free will (D&C 58:27-28).

In the Book of Mormon, we have the promise that we will enter the grace of God after doing all that we can do (2 Nephi 25:23).

If we seek for self-reliance with real intent, doing everything that is required and putting away laziness and idleness, the blessings from our faithful effort will come. 

In Doctrine and Covenants 68, verses 30-31, we are commanded to work and to avoid idleness; we are told that the Lord is not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion because there are idlers among them. Dear brothers and sisters, these verses contain great teachings for us and for our families. I counsel you to ponder them and see how we can avoid idleness.

We become self-reliant as we learn to love work; as we seek inspiration from the Lord in order to provide everything that is needful for ourselves; and as we find, together with the members of our families, the way to meet our basic needs.

When we are self-reliant, we use our blessings and our means to prepare ourselves to face problems and avoid difficult circumstances. However, self-reliance increases as we pray to receive the courage to face with faith the difficult times that surely will come. Self-reliance also allows us to keep our covenant to watch over others (D&C 44:6).

In D&C 88:76-78, the Lord commands us to continue in fasting and prayer, which are means for seeking guidance to become more self-reliant.

When we, as Church members, are doing all we can to provide for ourselves and our families but cannot meet our basic needs, generally we should first turn to our relatives and other nearby resources for help. If this is not sufficient or feasible, the Church stands ready to help. Through our leaders, the Lord has established a way to provide for His faithful Saints. If we follow His counsel, we will see the hand of the Lord at work so we can become more self-reliant.

In Handbook 2: Administering the Church, in the section about Welfare Principles and Leadership, we are taught some principles that we as members should follow to become self-reliant:

“The Lord has commanded members to take care of their minds and bodies. They should obey the Word of Wisdom, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, control their weight, and get adequate sleep. They should shun substances or practices that abuse their bodies or minds and that could lead to addiction. They should practice good sanitation and hygiene and obtain adequate medical and dental care. They should also strive to cultivate good relationships with family members and others . . .

“Education provides understanding and skills that can help people develop self-reliance. Church members should study the scriptures and other good books. They should improve in their ability to read, write, and do basic mathematics. They should obtain as much education as they can, including formal or technical schooling where possible. This will help them develop their talents, find suitable employment, and make a valuable contribution to their families, the Church, and the community . . .

“Work is the foundation upon which self-reliance and temporal well-being rest. Members should prepare for and carefully select a suitable occupation or self-employment that will provide for their own and their families’ needs. They should become skilled at their work, be diligent and trustworthy, and give honest work for the pay and benefits they receive.”

My dear brothers and sisters, the earth is full, and there is enough for everyone—but only the faithful and those who are ready will enjoy the blessings that it offers.

In Jacob 2:18-19, we are told that before seeking riches, we must first obtain hope in Christ, and after we have obtained that hope, we will find riches if we seek them. We are also told the purpose for which we should use them.

May we be faithful stewards and do everything we can to enter into God's grace and avoid that our eyes become larger than our pockets. “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).

In the last days, the world will be in commotion and the hearts of many will wax cold, but if we are prepared, we shall not fear, says the Lord.

I know without a doubt in my heart that if we follow the Lord's counsel through our leaders, and if we do everything that is within our reach to strive to be self-reliant, we will enjoy the promised blessings.