The Lord counsels us to prepare for the future, both temporally and spiritually. “Organize yourselves,” He says; “prepare every needful thing” (D&C 88:119). He also tells us, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).
In making our preparations, we are expected to rely first on our own resources. “We teach self-reliance as a principle of life,” President Gordon B. Hinckley has said. “We encourage our people to have something, to plan ahead, … if possible, against a rainy day. Catastrophes come to people sometimes when least expected—unemployment, sickness, things of that kind. The individual … ought to do for himself all that he can” (“‘This Thing Was Not Done in a Corner,’” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 50).
The Church identifies six areas in which we should become self-reliant: education; employment; health; resource management; home storage; and social, emotional, and spiritual strength.
A balanced education—consisting of both spiritual and secular knowledge—helps us make wise decisions and serve our fellow beings better. A good education also opens doors to better employment opportunities.
Good health is essential for taking care of our own and our family’s needs. Keeping ourselves healthy requires that we obey the Word of Wisdom, exercise regularly, obtain adequate medical care, keep ourselves and our homes clean, and refrain from substances or practices that would pollute our bodies and minds.
Managing well the resources the Lord has given us can be a challenge. Foremost, we need to pay tithes and offerings. We also need to budget money wisely to avoid unnecessary debt and save for the future. We should not waste what we have, including our time.
We have often been counseled to store sufficient food, money, and clothing to meet essential needs. A good goal is to have a year’s supply of these necessities. In some countries, storing food is illegal, and some members do not have the money or space for a year’s supply. In such cases, we do what we can. We prepare by learning how to produce basic food items and to make or repair our own clothing.
Joy and Jeff Young learned the importance of having adequate resources when they endured 14 months of unemployment. “Throughout the years of our marriage,” Joy explained, “we had tried to follow the prophets’ counsel to be prepared for the unexpected. We had built a basic food supply. … I was also grateful that I had developed my homemaking skills.”
Joy and Jeff supported each other through those difficult months and relied heavily on the Lord. “During this time,” Joy said, “I found that it is impossible to stockpile spiritual strength. Even though I had a strong foundation in the gospel, I had to pray and read the scriptures daily to maintain my faith. They became a nurturing necessity” (“Surviving Unemployment,” Ensign, Feb. 1991, 42, 44).
We are better prepared emotionally and socially if we have good family relationships and good friends. But above all else, we need the spiritual strength of daily righteous living. Our prophets assure us “that a people prepared through obedience to the commandments of God need not fear” (First Presidency letter, 24 June 1988).