Lord’s Storehouse: A Divine Principle of Meeting Needs
Contributed By From the Church News
“No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.” —President Thomas S. Monson
After the Prophet Joseph Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio, he immediately set the Church in order. Moving forward under direction from the Lord, he appointed the Church’s first bishop and defined many policies and procedures.
One such procedure dealt with taking care of the poor and needy at a time the Church was experiencing growth and many poor were arriving in Kirtland.
“And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.
“And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church. …
This principle, often referred to as the Lord’s storehouse, is as important today as it was when Joseph Smith received it in 1831.
Thanks to this inspired system of administering help to those in need, the Church has provided assistance to nearly 30 million people in 179 countries during the past quarter century.
Church members’ willingness to volunteer time, expertise, and funding to humanitarian projects is why Latter-day Saint Charities has such a large scope—including responding after disasters in the form of emergency response and through major initiatives. In 2012 the Church:
• Provided clean water to 890,000 people in 36 countries.
• Helped 51,000 people grow gardens in 16 countries.
• Donated wheelchairs to 70,000 people in 61 countries.
• Assisted 75,000 people with vision care in 24 countries.
• Trained 28,000 in-country medical personnel in neonatal resuscitation in 40 countries.
• Participated in immunizing 8 million children in 13 countries (Welfare Services 2012 annual report).
But the commandment to “remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support” has an even more important application in the wards and stakes of Zion—where the Lord’s storehouse can do more than just provide food for the hungry.
President Thomas S. Monson said: “The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated material, and financial means of faithful Church members. These resources are available to the bishop in assisting those in need” (“Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign, Sept. 1986, 5).
When Church members think of a storehouse, they often think of a bishops’ storehouse.
But the Lord’s storehouse and the bishops’ storehouse are not the same thing.
The bishops’ storehouse is usually a physical location where certain household goods and commodities are dispensed under the direction of the bishop in order to meet short-term needs.
The Lord’s storehouse “receives, holds in trust, and dispenses consecrated offerings of the Saints. The storehouse may be as simple or sophisticated as circumstances require. It may be a list of available services, money in an account, food in a pantry, or commodities in a building. A storehouse is established when faithful members consecrate to the bishop their time, talents, skills, compassion, materials, and financial means in caring for the poor and in building up the kingdom of God on the earth.
“The Lord’s storehouse, therefore, exists in each ward. The bishop is the agent of the storehouse. Guided by inspiration from the Lord, he distributes the Saints’ offerings to the poor and needy. He is assisted by priesthood quorums and the Relief Society. He is instructed and supported in his responsibilities by stake and area leaders” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 256).
Church members contribute to the Lord’s storehouse when they take care of themselves and their families and then give their excess goods, time, and talents to the Church. This can be accomplished as they magnify their Church callings, faithfully minister as home or visiting teachers, and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost as they look for additional ways to help and serve others.
“And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—
“Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 82:18–19).
The message of the doctrine of the Lord’s storehouse is clear. It is not just bishops, Relief Society presidents, or quorum leaders who have responsibility to take care of the poor and needy. The Lord needs the time and talents of all members to look after His children. We all have a responsibility not only to become self-reliant but also to help others do the same.
In Doctrine and Covenants 78:3 the Lord reminds Latter-day Saints that “the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, it must needs be that there be an organization of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse for the poor of my people, both in this place and in the land of Zion.”
President Monson said the abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury. It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, mistaking it for joy and happiness. “To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves,” he said. “No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy” (“The Lord’s Way,” April 1990 general conference).