As discussed in my post on the doctrinal basis of emergency preparedness, work and self-reliance are key aspects of having our physical needs met in good times and bad. These principles are, thus, essential to our temporal happiness. Our Father in Heaven, in his wisdom, has commanded us to “prepare every needful thing” (see D&C 109:8) so that, should disaster strike, we may care for ourselves, our families, and others around us.
The LDS Church teaches that families should become self-reliant in the following key areas:
- Home and Food Storage
- Education and Employment
- Spiritual Strength
Home and Food Storage
LDS Church leaders have long encouraged members to prepare for unexpected emergencies in life by having a basic supply of food and water and other needs for the home. ”We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve” (message from the First Presidency, All Is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage, 2007). Families should always practice good sanitation and hygiene and obtain adequate medical and dental care, and in times of emergency, their home storage should include items to help them stay clean and healthy.
The Basics of Food Storage
Said former LDS Church President Gordon B, Hinckley with regard to food storage: “We can begin ever so modestly. We can begin with a one week’s food supply and gradually build it to a month, and then to three months” (To Men of the Priesthood, Ensign, March 2009). Here are some simple steps:
- Three-Month Supply: Start by building a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet.
- Drinking Water: Store drinking water for circumstances in which the water supply may be polluted or disrupted.
- Longer-Term Supply: As you are able, slowly build a reserve of food and other supplies that will last a long time and that you can use to stay alive.
The Basics of Family Finances
As noted above, Latter-day Saints have been counseled for many years to prepare for a variety of emergencies by having a little money set aside. “We urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from this bondage. Save a little money regularly to gradually build a financial reserve” (see First Presidency Message, All Is Safely Gathered In – Family Finances, 2007). Here are some basic steps for complying with this counsel:
- Pay Tithes and Offerings: The Lord has promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out great blessings upon those who pay tithes and offerings faithfully (see Malachi 3:10).
- Avoid Debt: Spending less money than you make is essential to your financial security. Avoid debt and pay off what debt you have as quickly as possible.
- Use a Budget: Make a plan of how you will spend your money and stick to it. Include Church donations, how much you will save, and what you will spend for food, housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, insurance, etc.
- Build a Reserve: Include in your budget an amount to put away for a rainy day, and use that financial reserve only in emergencies.
Education and Employment
Getting a good education and employment are two pillars upon which self-reliance and temporal well-being rest. Members of the Church are advised by their leaders to get as much education as they can, including completing high school and attending college or a technical schooling where possible. “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Getting an education will help individuals develop their talents, find suitable employment, and make a valuable contribution to their families, the Church, and the community.
Self-reliance also includes developing your own strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ so you can be self-sufficient spiritually. As Paul told the Philippians and as Moroni commented in the Book of Mormon, “Come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.” (Mormon 9:27, see also Philippians 2:12) Church members have been counseled to develop spiritual strength and their own testimonies by exercising faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ, obeying Their commandments, studying the scriptures, and serving their fellow beings.
We can also develop spiritual strength and personal testimony by following the counsel of the living prophets to prepare physically as outlined above. The Lord has said, ”Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal.” (D&C 29:34)
When we have developed our own spiritual strength, then we can be as Job who, even though his family and friends scorned him, he kept his testimony of Heaven, and said with confidence about the Lord: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…[and] he also shall be my salvation.” (Job 13: 15 - 16)