Objective: To understand that living providently means taking care of our immediate needs and providing for the future.
As we strive to care for ourselves and our families, one of our greatest challenges is to find peace in the midst of an uncertain future. We may have the basic necessities of life today, but what about tomorrow? The prophets have urged us to live providently—in other words, to live in a way that will provide the necessities of life not only today, but tomorrow as well.
The wisdom of living providently has been recognized since ancient times. Joseph encouraged the Egyptians to store grain during the seven “fat” years against the lean years that would come. (See Gen. 41:28–36.) From the ancient Greek storyteller Aesop comes a fable about the ant and the grasshopper, which illustrates in a very simple way the principle of provident living. In time of plenty, the grasshopper took no thought for what he might need when the winter came. But the ant worked busily, preparing and providing for a time when food would not be so plentiful. The ant could look to the future with confidence, while the grasshopper—if he thought about the future at all—could only hope for the best.
But living providently is more than just putting aside food for future need. It encompasses all areas of life. If we want to face the future with confidence and peace of mind, we must prepare ourselves in six areas: literacy and education, career development, financial and resource management, home production and storage, physical health, and social-emotional and spiritual strength. When we strive to prepare in these areas, we can enjoy peace of mind as we face the uncertainties of the future.
Sister Barbara W. Winder, general president of the Relief Society, says that “provident living includes the prudent, frugal use of one’s resources, making provision for the future as well as providing wisely for current needs.”
President Ezra Taft Benson has counseled members about our responsibility to be prepared: “Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. [They] are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.” (See Conference Report, April 1965, p. 121.)
In one ward, the sisters followed this advice when they put together their emergency preparedness kits. Each week in Relief Society, the leaders showed one item that the sisters needed in their kits. Many finished their projects in time to give this gift of preparation to their families for Christmas.
In the Solo Branch, in Indonesia, sisters set aside a spoonful of rice each time they cooked, then distributed that rice each week to families in need. Even though these Indonesian sisters had an average income of only $140 per year, they accepted the challenge to be self-reliant and to bless each other.
Are you prepared? Examine the six areas of provident living and plan for your own needs. Invite the Spirit of the Lord to help you creatively fulfill this stewardship. “Living providently today is the very best preparation for tomorrow, for a lifetime of tomorrows, whatever the challenges may be,” Sister Winder says. “The Lord has promised that ‘if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.’” (D&C 38:30.)
Suggestions for Visiting Teachers
Discuss why all six areas of provident living are equally important for personal and family well-being.
Discuss why balanced preparation brings peace of mind. Why is peace of mind important for spiritual growth?
(See Family Home Evening Resource Book, pp. 224–25, for related materials.)