As I embark in my new calling as emergency preparedness specialist in my ward, I wanted to start by studying the doctrinal basis of emergency preparedness. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said that leaders, before rushing into the tactics of getting the job done, should start by stepping back and understanding the big picture. He said a leader should set the vision, focus on the Savior, and understand the why of what we are asked to do. Then you will be more likely to receive inspiration in figuring out how to get things done, and you will be much more likely to achieve your goal (from the Leadership Enrichment Series, November 9, 2011).
Heavenly Father Wants Us to Be Happy on Earth
The foundational part emergency preparedness, from a gospel perspective, was a little difficult for me to identify at first because it almost seems like a given that needs little verbalization: Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to be happy, and doesn’t want to see us suffer.
- During his mortal ministry, the Savior said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).
- The prophet Lehi taught that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
- The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Joseph Fielding Smith , 255-256).
- Jesus Christ suffered and died for us so that he would “know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12).
The Savior had mercy on the people during his earthy sojourn, and healed the sick and afflicted in Palestine and in the Americas. The Lord’s love and mercy to relieve suffering and grant blessings is found throughout the scriptures.
Fathers’ Responsibility to Provide for His Family
Of course, a major part of being happy in this life is having our physical needs met. Everyone needs the basics of food and shelter. The Family Proclamation teaches that “Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” This sentence doesn’t apply just to the good times; the Lord expects men to provide for the families come what may.
- The apostle Paul taught that “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
- The Lord taught Joseph Smith, “And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church. Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (D&C 75:28-29)
- “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church. And if they are not faithful they shall not have fellowship in the church; yet they may remain upon their inheritances according to the laws of the land. All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” (D&C 83:2-4)
- “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God….Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:119, 124)
It is clear that the Lord wants the physical necessities of life met for all individuals. Of course, as the Family Proclamation explains, there will be circumstances when a husband/father is not around. In those cases, family, friends should lend a hand to help meet those needs. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”
Happiness through Work and Not Idleness
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, Oct. 1936, 3).
Work is an important and eternal principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God works and it brings him glory (see Moses 1:39). The Lord commanded the first man, Adam, to work saying “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” (Gen 3:19) and in the Book of Moses we are told that “Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him” (Moses 5:1). I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught that he “did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands,” and soon thereafter he said that “we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:17, 27). Good work ethic is a fundamental part of individual happiness, self-worth, and prosperity.
One final gospel principle basis for emergency preparedness of that of self-reliance. The Church has long taught that the responsibility for each person’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being lies first with themselves, second with their family, and third on the Church. The LDS Church Handbook says, ”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…Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.” (From the Welfare section of Handbook 2, 6.1.1 Self-Reliance)
As we seek for happiness in this life, we will be more likely to achieve it if we are prepared for any emergency. When we are self-reliant and understand the principle of work, we will be better prepared to care for our own needs and the needs of our families and others. We will have the temporal blessings of safety and security, and as we serve and help others we will be richly blessed with Heavenly rewards.