The LDS Church defines self-reliance as “the ability, commitment, and effort to provide for the spiritual and temporal well-being of ourselves and of our families.” This month, the Mormon Channel is focusing on becoming more self-reliant through education.
The scriptures teach us that “the glory of God is intelligence.” In order to fully progress in this life, we must do all that we can to obtain intelligence. We have been blessed with curiosities and the ability to think and reason because there are things that the Lord needs us to know in order to develop our own minds and to further His work on the earth. His prophets have also encouraged us to receive an education so that we can become more prepared to survive temporally and spiritually in the world.
Elder Russell M. Nelson has stated, “Because of our sacred regard for each human intellect, we consider the obtaining of an education to be a religious responsibility. … Leaders of this Church have repeatedly emphasized the importance of education. It is a vital component of wisdom.”
It is important in our pursuit of education to remember that spiritual and secular learning cannot replace each other, but rather go hand in hand. To have a more full understanding of the world and our purpose in it, we need both.
The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us, “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).
As children of God, both men and women need to study and learn not only the gospel but also the things of the world so that they can provide for themselves and their families.
Sister Chieko Okazaki commented in a talk to sisters that “each woman needs to develop … the gift of faith and the gift of study, to the utmost of her capacity. We need to exercise both study and faith to become self-reliant. … My faith gave me more strength to seek knowledge by study. I cannot separate learning by study and learning by faith. Both of them touch my heart, enlighten my mind, and encourage me in service.”
Also in speaking to women, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it is very difficult to settle on a vocation. You are hopeful that you will marry and that all will be taken care of. In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.
“Study your options. Pray to the Lord earnestly for direction. Then pursue your course with resolution. … There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part.”
If a formal education is within the realm of possibility for your life, you are encouraged to make every sacrifice necessary to obtain it.
Elder Nelson comments that while the time he spent in medical school was extensive, he knew what he wanted to become and never gave up.
“I determined to stay in school and work for an education as though my very life depended upon it. … Continue your education wherever you are, whatever your interest and opportunity, however you determine you can best serve your family and society. … Yet opportunities and abilities differ. I believe that in the pursuit of education, individual desire is more influential than institution, and personal faith more forceful than faculty.”
While Church leaders advise heavily against debt, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin recommended that getting an education was worth the financial sacrifice: “Some debt—such as for a modest home, expenses for education, perhaps for a needed first car—may be necessary.”
If a formal education at a university is not a possibility for you, there are many other ways to obtain an education through vocational training, internships, apprenticeships, reading, researching on your own, and providing service to others.
As you seek guidance on how to live this counsel and obtain a more full education in your own life, remember the words of the Lord: “Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:7).
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