“The Lord has told us that if we are prepared, we shall not fear…personal and family preparedness is vital to our eternal welfare and happiness, and it is important to be strong financially, as well as spiritually, mentally, and physically.” -Elder Franklin D. Richards
“…members of the Church have been counseled to be thrifty and self-reliant; to avoid debt; pay tithes and a generous fast offering; be industrious; and have sufficient food, clothing, and fuel on hand to last at least one year.” -Ezra Taft Benson
The foundation of our financial house is built with the gospel ideals of seeking first the kingdom of god, using money to achieve eternal happiness, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. With that foundation solidly in place, next comes the framing, which consists of financial preparation and protection.
Our research identified the following components of this phase:
- Secure adequate life, medical, homeowners, automobile, and disability insurance.
- Save a percentage of income.
- Maintain a food and fuel storage program.
- Preserve and utilize assets through appropriate tax and estate planning.
Why are preparation and protection so vital, especially in a gospel context? How does saving money draw us closer to God? What is the relationship between food storage and spirituality? Does insurance have celestial implications?
We realized from our own distressing experience that it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on spiritual matters while struggling financially. And the less prepared we are for unexpected events, the more we’ll struggle when they befall us.
The burden of financial stress absorbs our attention and energy, thus inhibiting our disposition and ability to perform spiritual duties. We become so focused on solving our own problems that we’re left with little time to help others.
“…we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford…Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually. We give away some of our precious, priceless agency and put ourselves in self-imposed servitude. Money we could have used to care for ourselves and others must now be used to pay our debts. What remains is often only enough to meet our most basic physical needs. Living at the subsistence level, we become depressed, our self-worth is affected, and our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and the Lord are weakened. We do not have the time, energy, or interest to seek spiritual things.” -Robert D. Hales
“If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast, and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” -Brigham Young
Furthermore, it can become tempting to lose faith in God when tragedy strikes, especially for those who are unprepared. We’re ashamed to admit that for a brief period after failed real estate strategies led to disaster, we felt abandoned by God. We felt entitled to everything working out just as we had planned. Our faith was strong when life was great, but when trials came, we faltered.
Had we been more obedient to prophetic financial counsel, we would have weathered the storm with greater faith. So often, as was the case with us, forfeited faith conceals self-deception. When we have done all we can and have been fully obedient, we can “be still, and know [He] is God” when immersed in trials. However, when deep down we know we haven’t done our part, we seek to justify ourselves with excuses.
“Too often, people assume that they probably never will be injured, get sick, lose their jobs, or see their investments evaporate. To make matters worse, often people make purchases today based upon optimistic predictions of what they hope will happen tomorrow. The wise understand the importance of saving today for a rainy day tomorrow...” -Joseph B. Wirthlin
One positive effect of being financially prepared is that we can be a light and strength to others during hard economic times. The ancient prophet Joseph was a prime example of this. When famine imperiled Egypt, “…all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”
Today, the Church helps millions of suffering people throughout the world with its humanitarian service program. Not only does this help people with temporal needs, but it also provides missionary opportunities.
More than anything, financial preparation and protection facilitate personal freedom, which is the ultimate goal of the gospel. As Elder Albert E. Bowen taught:
“The Lord must want and intend that His people shall be free of constraint whether enforceable or only arising out of the bindings of conscience…That is why the Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.”
Marion G. Romney further stressed that, “Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.”
The purpose of preparing and protecting ourselves financially is to help us remain focused on spiritual matters, stand firm in our faith, be a light to others, and maintain personal freedom during economic challenges and personal misfortune.
Questions for Readers:
- How have you been blessed by being financially prepared?
- How have you suffered by not being prepared?
- What experiences have helped you understand the importance of financial preparation and protection?
- Have you ever had any missionary experiences because of your emergency preparedness efforts?
We invite you to answer these questions by commenting below.
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