As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we sometimes see the commandments as a list of do’s and don’ts and hence at times overlook the countless blessings that come from simply obeying. Everywhere in the world individuals and families are constantly bombarded with messages of getting rich quickly, and on the other extreme we see others who have fallen into the trap of entitlement. We are encouraged by prophets, past and present, to be self-reliant both spiritually and temporary. In Handbook 2 we learn that “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.”
Brother Ephraim Pheto is one person who has embraced the principles of self-reliance in his life. (He has given me permission to tell his story.) Upon coming back from his mission, he worked for a small printing and adverting company – and started developing himself by getting involved in self-study programs in graphics. Soon after, he was able to start a small business that enabled him to provide for his family.
He wasn’t satisfied by just doing graphics – and after much prayer and consultation with his family – he decided it was best for him to continue his studies. He then identified a gap in the market and studied project management. This opened a new stream of revenue for him, which led him into the construction industry. (Brother Pheto loves working with his hands.) He now finds himself out of the office more than before; but importantly he is able to provide for his family, pay an honest tithe and serve in the Church. He is known by many within his community as the ‘go to person’ when it comes to anything – installing electricity, building, welding, and many other construction services.
He also went a step further by planting a garden in his yard where he grows items like spinach and onions. This means that he saves money that he would have spent on purchasing vegetables by growing his own. His obedience to the principles of self-reliance has blessed him and his family, and has inspired others around him to strive to do the same.
The principle of self-reliance requires for us to seek direction from Father in Heaven on things to do that will best suit our needs and circumstances. It is therefore very important for us as sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven to approach Him prayerfully for guidance in what we need to do individually and as families to become self-reliant. President Russell M. Nelson counselled, “In the coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” (General Conference, April 2018) As we strive to be obedient to the principles of self-reliance, we will be blessed with ideas that are specific to our individual circumstances. The principle of self-reliance is not meant for a select few but to be embraced by all of us.
I would like to emphasise a few areas discussed in Handbook 2 that may assist us in becoming self-reliant:
1. Health: It may be prudent for us to ask ourselves if we have sufficient health cover. In certain countries within the Africa South East Area it is possible for us to contribute monthly to a health cover that will ensure that our health is taken care of as and when illness strikes. It is also very important for us to keep the Word of Wisdom by ensuring that we exercise regularly. This can be done by taking a walk as a family, which in turn will give us time together and will also help us build memories as a family.
2. Education: Whether formal or informal, it is important that we educate our minds and our hands. I know a wonderful Sister who served in a Stake Relief Society Presidency a few years ago. She put her children through schooling; and in her more mature years, she decided to go back to complete her High School. This now serves as a great example to her grandchildren on the importance of getting an education.
3. Employment:In order for us to become self-reliant we must learn to appreciate the sacred opportunity we have to work and provide for ourselves and our families.
4. Finances: It is important that we not only earn but also save money for a rainy day. As we faithfully pay our tithes – and a generous fast offering – we are promised by the prophet Malachi that, “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground.” (Malachi 3:11) As we learn to manage our finances we will be better able to stay out of debt.
5. Spiritual Strength: Our faith and testimonies will be enhanced as we learn to trust in our Father in Heaven and develop faith in Jesus Christ.
Brothers and Sisters, it is important for us to remember that we are personally responsible for our spiritual and temporal welfare. We cannot push that on the Church. As we become self-reliant we will also become a happier people. I remember while serving as a Stake President, I was approached by a faithful brother who felt that his Bishop was not doing enough to help him and his family with welfare assistance. His wife had a health challenge and needed to see a private doctor for consultation, which was quite expensive. To help solve the issue, I approached the Stake Relief Society President, seeking her direction in how best the Church could assist this faithful family. She reassured me that she would look into it and give me feedback. In about a week or two, she helped identify a specialist who was able to assist the wife of this good brother without their needing to approach the Church for financial assistance. This was a lesson not only for the family themselves, but for me as their leader at the time.
Brothers and Sisters, I encourage you to be prayerful as you look for ways to become self-reliant. I assure you that Heavenly Father will bring thoughts into your mind and will bless you not only to become self-reliant but with the ability to serve others.