Relief Society Lesson 11: Provident Living
Lesson from Seraphine: I’m doing this lesson the same way I did it the last time around. I’ll share a number of my favorite quotes from the manual and post some questions and reflections. I’ve organized my thoughts according to the sections in the lesson manual. All the materials in quotations are from the lesson manual. Anything not in quotes is my own thoughts. I didn’t include additional outside quotes or scriptures because I didn’t have time, but feel free to share any favorite quotes or scriptures on the topic of prayer. And sorry I didn’t include page numbers—I used the on-line version of the lesson.
We are responsible for our own social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and economic well-being.
Question: Why is self-reliance important? Why is this a principle that is emphasized by church leaders? I’m also curious about how you think self-reliance should be balanced with service. We are constantly taught that we need to serve and “mourn with those that mourn,” but simultaneously, we are taught to be self-reliant? How do we balance these two commandments? What does it mean to follow both simultaneously?
One quote from the manual that I thought was an interesting preliminary answer to why self-reliance is important was the following: “No amount of philosophizing, excuses, or rationalizing will ever change the fundamental need for self-reliance. This is so because: ‘All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, … as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.’ (D&C 93:30.) The Lord declares that herein lies ‘the agency of man’ (see D&C 93:31), and with this agency comes the responsibility for self. With this agency we can rise to glory or fall to condemnation. May we individually and collectively be ever self-reliant. This is our heritage and our obligation.
Comment: I thought it was interesting how Spencer Kimball ties self-reliance to the principle of agency: that by practicing self-reliance, we can learn how to exercise our agency in valuable ways, and we can learn how to face and accept the consequences of our independent actions. Any additional thoughts?
One other quote I liked from this section: “We have placed considerable emphasis on personal and family preparedness. I hope that each member of the Church is responding appropriately to this direction. I also hope that we are understanding and accentuating the positive and not the negative. I like the way the Relief Society teaches personal and family preparedness as ‘provident living.’ This implies the husbanding [prudent managing] of our resources, the wise planning of financial matters, full provision for personal health, and adequate preparation for education and career development, giving appropriate attention to home [food] production and storage as well as the development of emotional resiliency.”
Comment: I like how Kimball noted that self-reliance includes much more than financial preparedness: that it is about taking care of our health and education and our emotional needs. I think that sometimes discussions on self-reliance get so focused on the issues of “no debt” and “you need food storage,” that we forget the other elements of self-reliance? So, do you think there are other aspects of self-reliance that get short shrift? What can we do as members of the church to further develop and emphasize the other aspects of self-reliance?
We have been counseled to participate in home food production and storage.
Comment and question: the next section in the manual is the section on needing to have a garden and food storage. Now, I think gardens are great. And I think food storage is a good thing to have. However, as a single adult who lives in an apartment with no yard and not a lot of storage space, I haven’t been very good about following either one of these directives. So, I’m wondering what some of the rest of you have done in circumstances like my own. Am I rationalizing my lack of obedience in this area? Are there things that I could be doing but aren’t?
We should work for what we receive.
I really was intrigued by the quote: “[w]ork is a spiritual necessity as well as an economic necessity.”
Question: How is work a spiritual principle? What spiritual ideals does it teach?
Another quote I really liked in this section: “Work brings happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. It is the means of all accomplishment; it is the opposite of idleness. We are commanded to work. (See Gen. 3:19.) Attempts to obtain our temporal, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being by means of a dole violate the divine mandate that we should work for what we receive.”
Comment and question: Now, I will say that if I sit around and do nothing, I’m usually not too happy. But, on the other hand, I don’t necessarily find joy in a lot of the work I have to do (especially things like housework). I don’t really find joy in work for work’s sake (which it seems to me is what Kimball is emphasizing here). Have you experienced joy in work for work’s sake? How might each of us find a greater amount of happiness and self-esteem in work?
We can become economically self-reliant by saving, avoiding debt, and living within our means.
This section of the lesson is pretty self explanatory: live within your means and stay out of debt. Probably the idea that I thought was most important was that Kimball pointed out that we needed to learn how to distinguish between “needs” and “wants,” or, “As families and as a Church, we can and should provide that which is truly essential for our people, but we must be careful not to extend beyond that which is essential or for purposes which are not directly related to our families’ welfare and the basic mission of the Church.”
Question: How can we better distinguish what is essential from what we want? How have you managed to distinguish your needs from your wants? And what strategies have you found effective for not giving in to obtaining your wants (or trying to claim that your wants are needs)?
Preparedness is a way of life that brings its own rewards.
Question: How would you interpret the above statement? How can preparedness be a “way of life”? And what kinds of rewards does it bring?