Elder Robert D. Hales gave some great counsel about spiritual and temporal self-reliance—which is exactly what you are studying in November in your Church classes.
As a pilot in the air force, I learned this principle: never deliberately fly into a thunderstorm. (I won’t tell you how I found that out.) Instead, fly around it, take another route, or wait for the storm to clear before landing.
Beloved young adult brothers and sisters, I want to help you “fly right” in the gathering storms of the last days. You are the pilots. You are responsible to think about the consequences of every choice you make. Ask yourself, “If I make this choice, what is the worst thing that could happen?” Your righteous choices will keep you from getting off course.
1. How can I find solutions to my challenges and problems?
One of the purposes of the scriptures is to show us how righteous people respond to temptation and evil. In short, they avoid it! Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife. Lehi took his family and left Jerusalem. Mary and Joseph fled into Egypt to escape Herod’s wicked plot. In every instance, Heavenly Father warned these believers.
Similarly, He will help us know whether to fight, flee, or go with the flow of our unfolding circumstances. He will speak to us through prayer, and when we pray, we will have the Holy Ghost, who will guide us. We have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, patriarchal blessings, the counsel of inspired parents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and, above all, the still, small voice of the Spirit.
The Lord will always keep His promise: “I will lead you along” (D&C 78:18). The only question is, will we let ourselves be led? Will we hear His voice and the voice of His servants?
I testify that if you are there for the Lord, He will be there for you (see D&C 88:63). If you love Him and keep His commandments, you will have His Spirit to be with you and guide you.
2. How can I prepare to be financially self-reliant?
Many of your generation are facing crushing debt. When I was a young adult, my stake president was an investment banker on Wall Street. He taught me, “You are rich if you can live happily within your means.” How can you do it? Pay your tithing and then save! When you earn more, save more. Don’t compete with others to have expensive toys. Don’t buy what you can’t afford.
Many young adults in the world are going into debt to get an education, only to find the cost of school is greater than they can repay. Seek out scholarships and grants. Obtain part-time employment, if possible, to help pay your own way. This will require some sacrifice, but it will help you succeed.
3. Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills?
Education prepares you for better employment opportunities. It puts you in a better position to serve and to bless those around you. It will set you on a path of lifelong learning. It will strengthen you to fight against ignorance and error. As Joseph Smith taught: “Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 265). “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29). Education will prepare you for what is ahead, including marriage.
4. How do I know if I am becoming converted?
Begin exercising your faith in every area of your life. If you don’t, you will suffer what I would call “faith atrophy.” The very strength needed to exercise your faith will be diminished. So exercise your faith every day, and you will “wax stronger and stronger … and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ” (Helaman 3:35).
Make certain you are worthy to take the sacrament and hold a temple recommend. Go to the temple regularly. Serve in the Church. In addition to serving in Church callings, follow the example of the Savior, who simply “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
5. How can I learn to make my own decisions?
Now, you may have serious questions about the choices ahead. In my young adult years, I sought counsel from my parents and from faithful, trusted advisers. One was a priesthood leader; another was a teacher who believed in me. Both said to me, “If you want my counsel, be prepared to take it.” I understood what that meant. Prayerfully select mentors who have your spiritual well-being at heart. Be careful about taking advice from your peers. If you want more than you now have, reach up, not across (see Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently , 145).
Remember, no one can reach upward on your behalf. Only your faith and prayers will cause you to lift yourself and have the mighty change of heart. Only your resolve to be obedient can change your life. Because of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice for you, the power is in you (see D&C 58:28). You have your agency, you have strong testimonies if you are obedient, and you can follow the Spirit that guides you.
6. How can I become spiritually self-reliant?
You may want to conduct what I’ll call a “personal council.” After praying, spend some time alone. Think about what is ahead. Ask yourself: “What areas of my life do I want to strengthen so that I can strengthen others? Where do I want to be a year from now? two years from now? What choices do I need to make to get there?”
Just remember, you are a pilot, and you are in charge. I testify that as you come to yourself, your Heavenly Father will come to you. By the comforting hand of His Holy Spirit, He will help you along.
Read the rest of Elder Hales’s October 2015 general conference talk!
Share your experience
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