How to Improve Temporal Self-Reliance

Area Leadership Message

Elder Christopher Charles, Great Britain
Elder Christopher Charles, Great Britain Area Seventy

In the UK, 6th April sees in a new tax year. So, as a retired Financial Consultant, the date has more than a spiritual significance. I remember preparations needed to minimise clients’ tax liabilities and make sure that their affairs were in place for the new tax year. It was an ongoing process lasting right through the year and required concerted effort - preparation.

In the same way, temporal self-reliance requires preparation and is not a one-time process. If only we could exercise hard for one day a year and then forget about it until the next!

It cannot be like that! Temporal self-reliance, the ability to care for ourselves, our families and others is a lifetime’s work. It takes hard work, prayer, study and meditation. It takes resolve and perhaps mostly faith and self-control.

In this article, I will discuss personal finances, one aspect of temporal self-reliance.

We are told that “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”[1] Faith comes from listening to our leaders and trusting their inspired judgement. Their counsel is, for example, to avoid debt (or get out of debt quickly) by living within our means, paying tithing and fast offerings so that The Lord can open the windows of Heaven for us.[2]

I have counselled many members with financial difficulties. It is a bit like establishing a diet regime. People start off strong but give up so quickly that they have not given it a chance. Few have applied the principles taught them for long enough to allow them to work. “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.[3]

One small company client was doing very well but the director bought a £70,000 BMW against my advice. After all, his neighbour had one! I told him that he would very quickly take the car for granted and be much poorer for it. He phoned me soon after.

 ”You were right, Chris”, he said to me, “it’s just a lump of metal and now we cannot pay our debts this month”.

The company failed and the tragedy was that it need not have happened.

We try to maintain an image by buying with other peoples’ perceptions of us in mind!  I call it “buying for other people.” Pride, ego trips, call it what you will, can have tragic consequences.

Contrast the above story with “Nasty Nick” from Portugal, who came to England to find work. He was in his twenties and married. I secured his first mortgage. He worked hard but was considered by his peer group as an ungenerous individual, in short nasty. He never took his wife out or went on holiday nor bought gifts. He just worked and worked and worked.

Within a few years, he paid off his mortgage and saved enough money to go back to Portugal, build a family home and two apartments which he let. Last I heard, Nick was starting up another business. “Nasty Nick” was not nasty! He had vision, he set goals and sacrificed for the security of his family. He bought only what he needed; his wants had to wait.

What of us? Do we “buy for other people?” Or are we patient enough to wait so that we do not get into debt except for essentials – possibly education, a house and modest car – and even then we pay them off quickly. We should pay our tithing and fast offerings.  I testify to you that the Lord’s blessings are real and we will prosper if we are obedient. I know this from personal experience.[4]

If we have a foot in the world of material things that we cannot afford, let us withdraw quickly. Loans should be for the essentials mentioned even if your sofa could do with being replaced! Decide what you want, set goals and plans to achieve your desires by budgeting. Pray and work at it. These are the ingredients for success!

[1] D & C 38:10

[2] 2 Malachi 3:10

[3] 1 Nephi 16:1