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Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley Lesson 13: "Peace and Contentment through Temporal Self-Reliance"

In this lesson, the word "peace" is generally equal to the word "security." We’re not talking about the spiritual peace the Spirit brings into our lives. This peace is the security that comes to us because we have learned how to work, and have developed the discipline to store and save against a rainy day and the unexpected disaster.

There are several principles President Hinckley covers in this lesson. They include the principles of hard work, helping others, physical and spiritual preparation for what is to come, and thrift. Much of the time we think of these as lectures our parents gave us. That may be true enough, but they are also all qualities of a celestial character.

Hard work

I believe in the gospel of work. There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor. It is the process by which dreams become realities. It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.

No great vision ever turned itself into a monument. All visions become great things only through work and perseverance. We can dream of beautiful homes, gorgeous gardens, and lovely landscapes, but without putting shovel to dirt and hammer to nail, those dreams will remain forever unrealized.

A great difficulty faced by those who are raised in comfortable environments like towns and cities is how to learn the benefits of hard physical work. Hard physical work is something that many have never truly experienced. Along with that lack of experience comes the loss of the lessons physical labor teaches about the law of the harvest, that we reap what we sow.

Additional lessons physical labor teaches us is the need to give one’s best effort until the job is finished. Have you ever tried to accomplish something with a group of people when some in the group figure they have done their share and quit before the project is complete? Have you ever hired someone who only does 85% of the job before they decide enough is enough and they stop working?

Being able to work as long and as hard as is necessary on a project is really a demonstration of personal character. Children learn this best by working side by side with their parents. When they see this demonstrated over and over again by their parents they come to recognize this as the standard by which anything gets accomplished in life.

Can you imagine the Lord trying to create a new world and getting tired or bored with the project five days into the creation process and abandoning it? Learning to finish what you start, despite the effort required to do so, is a celestial character trait. It is that drive to deliver what you have promised that makes a person trustworthy and responsible.

Helping others

If you look at the intent behind every conversation and action of our Savior during his mortal ministry you will find a concern for helping those with whom He was conversing to be better people. He wanted them to thrive and be happy, both physically and spiritually.

It is true that we can do good in this life by performing favors for others, but the best form of good we can do for others is to help them find ways to improve their own lives. When we help one family learn the value of education and hard work that new skill set affects the lives of all their subsequent generations. This is why the Perpetual Education Fund has been such a blessing to so many in the Church.

Programs such as the Perpetual Education Fund not only teach lessons of self-reliance and character, but they help people who had little to no chance to improve their lives and expand on the opportunities available for their children and grandchildren. This falls under the category of what the Lord was referring to when He said that through small things He can bring to pass that which is great. It just takes time for some miracles to come to fruition.

One of the goals of the Lord’s church is not just to take people out of poverty, but to take poverty out of the people. By providing them with opportunities to improve themselves, and through their own hard work improve their lives, they see that it really is possible for them to achieve great things, both physically and spiritually.

President Joseph F. Smith said . . . that a religion which will not help a man in this life will not likely do much for him in the life to come (see “The Truth about Mormonism,” Out West magazine, Sept. 1905, 242).

It is our solemn obligation . . . to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). We must help them to become self-reliant and successful.

I believe the Lord does not wish to see His people condemned to live in poverty. I believe He would have the faithful enjoy the good things of the earth. He would have us do these things to help them.

Physical and spiritual preparation

There have been tragedies and disasters, calamities and destruction in every generation since the world began. Such is the lot of man. But not in any generation of mankind has the level of destruction been promised to be of such magnitude as has been promised to our generation. The more wicked the inhabitants of the earth become, the more the earth itself will revolt at the wickedness that exists upon her face.

The Lord does not expect us to be helpless during the calamities of the last days. He expects us to work to provide for ourselves in such manner that when the disasters come we can not only care for ourselves and our loved ones, but we can reach out and share those blessings with others who were not prepared.

When we obey and prepare for what is to come, we demonstrate our willingness to follow the Lord’s servants. Even if we never have need of it in our own life, we will have been obedient and will reap the blessings of obedience, for all blessings are based on obedience to the laws God gives us.

When we have been obedient “we can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. . . . We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments.”

The Lord expects us to be able to stand on our own feet and to provide for ourselves. We cannot be free if we have to rely on others. We cannot serve when service is needed the most if we are not prepared for the calamity that has befallen both us and our neighbors. We have been given these warnings and charges by the Lord to prepare us for those times when some of our greatest challenges will be to look outside of ourselves for the blessing of others in a time of crisis.

We have been told for several generations now to acquire some form of food storage. We have been told to get out of debt and to set some money aside in case we lose our employment. These are not impossible things to do if we have the faith to get started on them. Every small effort we make to add something to our storage or to our nest egg will be blessed by the Lord. After all, it is He who commanded us to do it.

Thrift

One of the most needed lessons of this generation is that of our need to avoid debt like the plague. There is very little in this life that requires us to go into debt. Buying a house may be one of those exceptions. But even then too many of us buy homes that are bigger than we can adequately afford. We cannot fulfill the Lord’s commandment to save money for emergencies if we cannot even pay for our monthly debts.

President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in the priesthood meeting of the conference in 1938, [said]: “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103).

In D&C 19:35 the Lord refers to debt as being in bondage. We cannot be free to do the Lord’s work until we have freed ourselves from the bondage that comes with debt. This is why the Church values and promotes so heavily the need for an education and the virtue of learning to work hard.

President Heber J. Grant spoke repeatedly on this matter. . . . He said: “If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet” (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1941], 111).

Final Thoughts

The gospel of Christ comes in two parts. The spiritual gospel teaches us what we need to know and do to return home to live with God once again. The temporal gospel teaches us how to live so as to have the greatest opportunities in this life to find peace (security) and happiness. When we live both sides of the gospel of Christ we will be blessed.

Lead photo from Getty Images.
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