the blessing of self-reliance is greater freedom. it's freedom from debt and servitude. self-reliance brings blessings of contentment and peace. as we have greater freedom, we are able to care for ourselves, our family and others.
elder hales, in his april 2009 general conference talk, talked about becoming provident providers. he addressed his talk to "all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past" as well as those who have made choices "that have led to excessive debt and addictions to food, drugs, pornography, and other patterns of thought and action that diminish one's sense of self-worth."
some of the principals he taught were:
- Exodus 20:17 - "thou shalt not covet." wanting what others want is coveting. coveting leads to poor choices. many people go into debt to "keep up with the jones." coveting leads to mindless choices where we follow the latest and greatest fad. coveting leaves us poor financially and spiritually.
- i can't afford it - say this often when tempted to go into debt or to commit a sin. if you are tempted to unnecessarily upgrade, then tell yourself i can't afford it. if you are tempted to eat too much food or indulge in pornography, tell yourself i can't afford it.
- alternatively, you can say i don't need it. do we really know the difference between and want and a need? you want a donut, but you don't need it. you want to buy a boat, but you don't need it. you need to buy a boat because the one you use to catch fish to provide for your family is old. i want a steak dinner, but i don't need it. i want to play a game on my phone, but i don't need to. i need to read my scriptures. these are just some simple examples.
- one of my favorite scriptures is 2 nephi 9:51 which reads wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which i have spoken; and come unto the holy one of israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted.
some personal stories i learned early on ...
during the summer, especially on days in the mid-afternoon hours when it was hottest and when i was the most bored, i would go across the street to see what my neighbors were up to. they had lots of entertainment over there. they had a pool, a trampoline, video games and junk food. every once in awhile, i would go over there and they'd let me in. in the cool living room, we would play on the nintendo. they were really good at video games. i'd try to keep up, but would usually lose. after a few hours, my eyes were bugged out and i'd head home. i'd feel dazed and a bit groggy as i went home. when i walked it my home, i felt a bit better. i realized at a young age that playing video games, although fun, it really wasn't satisfying. i would feel a bit more empty for playing them.
i would sometimes ask my parents for a video game system, but there was no way they'd ever buy one for me. instead, once a year, we'd go to the grocery store and rent a game system. i would stay up late friday night and play and play. after playing and sleeping in the next day, i would have that same groggy feeling ... and i wasn't really satisfied.
even when i played basketball and i played hard, i would feel a sense of accomplishment and i would feel satisfied.
of course, another activity in which i often engaged, was reading the scriptures and even memorizing scriptures. each night, i would get into my bed, open my scriptures and read and memorize. whenever i completed reading the book of mormon, i felt satisfied.
i think the conclusion here is we all need to pause and consider how we spend our time and effort. we ought to observe the time when we are coveting and once we notice we are coveting, we need to choose wisely. remember - i don't need it or i can't afford it. these words ought to come to our minds more often. and once we develop these good habits, we begin to enter the world of self-reliance - both temporal and spiritual.