The Book of Mormon teaches in many instances “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper” (1 Nephi 2:20; see 1 Nephi 4:14; Mosiah 1:7; Alma 9:13). The Lord desires to provide for His Saints (see Doctrine and Covenants 104:15). In the New Testament we read that the gospel is preached to the poor (see Luke 4:18). Gospel principles seek to lift men up out of mediocrity to allow them to prosper temporally while they grow spiritually. We read in Jacob 2:18–19, “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good.” Self-reliance is based on principles of faith in God and in righteousness, principles that need to be implemented in our lives to help us prosper.
The foundation of self-reliance includes twelve doctrinal principles and practices that, as we integrate them in our lives, give us the foundation to build personally to greater self-reliance. Faith, repentance, obedience, and perseverance are principles that we must seek after, teach, and implement in our behavior. These are not just quick-fix techniques towards prosperity, rather they are guiding principles that are needed to build our character, to allow us to face the challenges that await us on our journey to self-reliance.
The journey to self-reliance could be compared to the journey to the promised land. Often these journeys start with storage, planning, and budgets. But the first steps in the wilderness are full of challenges, unplanned events, and broken bows. Like Nephi, success is not just in starting the journey, but in persevering, continually applying principles of faith, diligence, and obedience all the way to the end, remembering that the Lord will sustain those who seek to become self-reliant. He will send angels to guide the traveler on the road to self-reliance, for all is spiritual to Him.
The journey to self-reliance often requires acquiring new talents (see Doctrine and Covenants 82:18). There again, the Lord sustains us by enlightening our minds. We must learn to evaluate our competencies and approach the task of learning with confidence and faith. Nephi used regular prayers and faith to understand how to build a boat in the Lord’s way; because of his consistency in crying to the Lord and counseling with Him, he received line upon line precept upon precept not only spiritual understanding but also how to build a boat, a temple, tools, etc., gaining at the same time temporal and spiritual understanding.
Becoming self-reliant requires one to lift up his vision of who he is and to what he can aspire. Start small but think big; every journey starts with a first step in the right direction. Faith is more than just preparing; it is taking steps forward, pursuing a vision of what can be, acting with consistency and regularity.
Fear is the enemy of faith. Though we must do all we can to mitigate the risk that comes with any change, fear of the future and the belief that we cannot get more that what we already have are powerful hindrances to progression. Self-reliance requires the spirit of entrepreneurship, the will to conquer, and the confidence that God has already prepared the way. Let us remember Nephi’s answer to his father: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
Though the way was prepared, Nephi still had to try three times: he was beaten by his brothers, he lost all his father’s gold, and he had to demonstrate great determination. “As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us” (1 Nephi 3:15).
In summary, each member should understand these doctrinal points regarding self-reliance:
Self-reliance is a commandment from God, essential to the plan of salvation. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught, “The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 116).
God wants to provide for His Saints who seek to become self-reliant (see Doctrine and Covenants 104:15), but challenges will always be there for us to rise above, to test our commitment to living correct principles in the midst of adversity.
The temporal and the spiritual are interconnected. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The two great commandments—to love God and our neighbor—are a joining of the temporal and the spiritual” (“Providing in the Lord’s way,” Liahona, Nov 2011, 53). As we seek temporal self-reliance, relying on the Lord (see Jacob 2:18–19), we shall develop our spiritual strength and better understand the Lord’s hand in our lives. Like the brother of Jared, we shall see the Lord’s finger in our lives as we seek to raise and lift others around us.
God our Father lives, Jesus is the Christ; They invite us to become self-reliant in order that our faith and our determination may grow and that we may serve and help others become self-reliant also.