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The Importance of Self-Reliance

By Comeuntochrist.org
parents walking with little girl

From the time The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints was organized in 1830, Mormons have been an industrial people—building towns, organizing communities, reaching out to settle new territories, and establishing farming, ranching, and processing operations. The work wasn’t easy, but early pioneers believed in being self-reliant, both temporally and spiritually. Temples and chapels were the first buildings to rise up in new settlements. And with all the work that had to be done, Sunday was reserved as a day of worship.

Today, members of the Church are encouraged to learn skills, get an education, be industrious, and give back to their communities. The process all starts with faith in Jesus Christ. By setting our compass by Christ’s example and measuring our daily activities by what He would do, we better understand the best use of our time and talents.

We believe God answers prayers. Major life decisions, especially our occupations, should be considered prayerfully. By praying to know which career path is best for us and listening for answers, we find ourselves with a little extra help and in a better place to help others, beginning with our own families.

Developing faith in Jesus Christ and going often to our Father in Heaven in prayer is the foundation of self-reliance. Here are a few more principles of self-reliance we teach and try to live by:

  1. Work hard. We have to do our part if we expect the Lord to bless us. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church’s First Presidency taught: “The Lord doesn’t expect us to work harder than we are able. … Our Heavenly Father asks only that we do the best we can—that we work according to our full capacity, however great or small that may be.”
  2. Work smart. Use time wisely. Prioritizing tasks, making use of free time, and making time for spiritual development make us more productive. And always looking for more efficient ways to do things will improve our workdays.
  3. Learn to manage money. A modern Apostle, Elder L. Tom Perry, taught the importance of avoiding excessive debt: “Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice.” Creating and sticking to a reasonable budget that includes charitable giving like tithing and a savings account will do much to create peace in the home.
  4. Solve problems. When we feel overwhelmed and distressed by problems, it’s easy to worry ourselves into a place where we can’t think straight. Better to face the problem head-on. Find solutions. When Joseph discovered that Egypt would see seven years of famine, he didn’t waste time worrying about it. He went right to work on a solution (see Genesis 41:33–36).
  5. Seek learning. Sometimes the solution is to get more education. This can be formal training at a college or self-initiated. Improve yourself by learning all you can about the industry you’re in, the world around you, and the best ways to thrive. “In our educational choices we should prepare to support ourselves and those who may become dependent upon us,” taught Elder Dallin H. Oaks. “It is necessary that we have marketable skills. Education is mandatory to personal security and well-being.”
  6. Have integrity. Difficult times can sometimes make us question or even compromise our values. No amount of money is worth lowering our standards for. Remember to put your trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

As we practice these principles and learn to exercise our faith in the Lord, we will become more self-reliant both temporally and spiritually—and find ourselves experiencing more joy and peace in our families.