Relief Society encourages provident living

Strengthening families through temporal self-reliance

Each month, the Church News publishes a message to complement the Relief Society visiting teaching message found in the Ensign magazine. The article on this page is based on the June 2011 message, “Strengthening Families through Temporal Self-Reliance.”

Every sister in the Church has the responsibility to develop the skills and principles of self-reliance as they learn to care for themselves and their families. As they become self-reliant, they are able to avoid problems before they happen and learn to overcome challenges when they occur. They are able to help others in need.

In this month’s visiting teaching message, sisters are encouraged to learn about the principles of self-reliance. In the message, two questions were given to help sisters know, “What can I do?”

The painting, "Woman With Food Storage," by Judith A. Mehr hangs on the wall of Sister Julie B. Beck's office.
The painting, “Woman With Food Storage,” by Judith A. Mehr hangs on the wall of Sister Julie B. Beck’s office. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

1. How can I help my sisters and their families improve in temporal self-reliance?

2. How can I improve my own temporal self-reliance?

Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, counseled Church members and spoke of the need to become self-reliant during the general auxiliary training meeting in 2009:

“This painting, which hangs in my office, shows a woman in a storage room. What we learn from this painting is not so much a lesson about storage rooms and home canning. Look at the woman. She stands alone, and we do not know if she is married or single. She is wearing an apron, which implies that she has been working. Work is a foundational principle of self-reliance. We can assume that all the resources around her are the result of her own efforts. She has made some personal preparations. Look at her face. She seems a little weary but very peaceful. Her eyes show the contentment in her soul. She has the look of a self-reliant woman.

“How do we become self-reliant? We become self-reliant through obtaining sufficient knowledge, education and literacy; by managing money and resources wisely, being spiritually strong, preparing for emergencies and eventualities; and by having physical health and social and emotional well-being.

“So what skills do we need to help us become self-reliant? It was important for my grandmother to know how to kill and pluck a chicken. I have not yet had the necessity to kill and pluck a chicken. However, even in the early days of the Church, Brigham Young pled with the sisters to learn to prevent illness in families, establish home industries and learn accounting and bookkeeping and other practical skills. Those principles still apply today. Education continues to be vitally important. Each of us is a teacher and a learner, and literacy, technical and reasoning skills are a daily requirement. There is also a great need for better communication skills in marriages and families, and good parenting skills have never been more important. We also see an increase of debt and consumerism in the world.

“I asked several bishops what self-reliance skills the sisters in their wards needed most, and they said budgeting. Women need to understand the implications of buying on credit and not living within a budget. The second skill bishops listed was cooking. Meals prepared and eaten at home generally cost less, are healthier and contribute to stronger family relationships. …

“Providing for ourselves and others is evidence that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Teaching skills within the home

“The family is the ideal place for teaching. It is also a laboratory for learning. Family home evening can bring spiritual growth to each member.

“The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions. Such truth has been taught by many presidents of the Church.

“It is in the home where fathers and mothers can teach provident living to their children. Sharing of tasks and helping one another set a pattern for future families as children grow, marry and leave home. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest. President Gordon B. Hinckley [has continually stressed] the avoidance of unnecessary debt, the fallacy of living beyond one’s means, and the temptation to let our wants become our necessities.”

— President Thomas S. Monson, then first counselor in the First Presidency and now President of the Church, “Your Personal Influence,” April 2004 general conference

“All people are happier and feel more self-respect when they can provide for themselves and their family and then reach out to take care of others. I have been grateful for those who helped me meet my needs. I have been even more grateful over the years for those who helped me become self-reliant. And then I have been most grateful for those who showed me how to use some of my surplus to help others.

“I have learned that the way to have a surplus is to spend less than I earn. With that surplus I have been able to learn that it really is better to give than to receive. That is partly because when we give help in the Lord’s way, He blesses us.”

— President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, “Opportunities to Do Good,” April 2011 general conference

“The core of the gospel — the doctrine and the principles — will never change. Living according to the basic gospel principles will bring power, strength, and spiritual self-reliance into the lives of all Latter-day Saints. …

“The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.’ To me, this teaching is beautifully straightforward. As we strive to understand, internalize, and live correct gospel principles, we will become more spiritually self-reliant. The principle of spiritual self-reliance grows out of a fundamental doctrine of the Church: God has granted us agency. I believe that moral agency is one of the greatest gifts of God unto His children, next to life itself.”

— President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, “Developing Christlike Attributes,” First Presidency message, Ensign, October 2008