Sunday, November 1, 2009

Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually

This week I have been studying the words of Elder Robert D Hales and the talk he gave in April 2009. He spoke on "Becoming a Provident Providers both Temporally and Spiritually." The first line that caught my attention was:

Today I speak to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past. I speak specifically of choices that have led to... thought and action that diminish one’s sense of self-worth.

I don't know anyone whose choices haven't diminished their freedom to choose. Furthermore, I don't think I know anyone who hasn't had some experience in their life where their choices have always led to exactly perfect self worth. So in other words - he is talking to me...and everyone I know.

A little further on Elder Hales testifies not only to our trials but to the help those trials can have.

Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality. Let me assure you that your situation is not beyond the reach of our Savior.

I struggle not with His reach but the reach of me. Some times, one of those decisions I seem to make is to step outside His firm grasp or I get into a hole and I don't reach up to his waiting lifeline to pull me out of the hole. I don't seem to be able to reach back. In other words, sometimes I choose to diminish my freedom that much more by making this test of mortality harder. Not in math or science or even in my photo class do I ask for harder tests. I wonder why I do that here. Maybe it's because of the next part...

We must remember that the adversary knows us extremely well. He knows where, when, and how to tempt us... we can learn to recognize the adversary’s enticements.

Every day I wonder how is it he can know me so well when I don't know myself so well. I think it is impart because I don't take the time to really research myself. I remember when I was in anger management, it was suggested I take notes. I was to write down every time I got angry and take note of what the triggers were. I did that for several months and discovered all sorts of things. When Cat and KNJ-P broke up with me, both of them sent me an e-mail (for better or worse) that pointed out somethings they had noticed about me. (quirks along with happy things right next to the things that drove us apart). My best friend and I are really good (spectacular at times) about pointing out each other's lasting qualities (both good and bad). If I spent a fraction of the time the devil does on me - well then I bet I could learn to recognize both my temptations a little better and why his enticements were so inviting when usually the end results of those enticings aren't.

I add this next part as a reminder and a reassurance:

Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond. We must ask for help from our Heavenly Father and seek strength through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. In both temporal and spiritual things, obtaining this divine assistance enables us to become provident providers for ourselves and others.

My faith is the question - not the hugeness or littleness of the temptation. I think that is good to remember. I have a friend in the hospital this week. She has incredible faith, though, that if she turns to the Lord it will all work out. I, along with her family, spent this Sunday fasting for her and her doctors. We too believe that our faith in this trial with be of more worth than the trial.

Elder Hales now turns to the meat of his talk. (I'm going to slim out the stories and just give the big points)

All of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in both temporal and spiritual ways. To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies. When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others.

Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). Our world is fraught with feelings of entitlement ... As a result, we go into debt to buy things we can’t afford—and things we do not really need. Whenever we do this, we become poor temporally and spiritually ... 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....I have learned that the three most loving words are “I love you,” and the four most caring words for those we love are “We can’t afford it.”

The first thought I have to this is a comedy show. In it is a guy who is a ventriloquist. One of the characters he uses is a really old really cranky man named Walter. During one part of the sketch the audience is allowed to ask questions.
One question: "Walter what was your favorite toy as a kid?"
Walter: "Dirt (where in the audience laughs) and we were happy."
I think about that response from time to time. Has PSP or Wii or TV or iPods or anything made us happier. I remember as a kid we used to go outside and play games with our neighbors. I live in some pretty kid populated areas but I never see them outside playing. I rarely see kids crossing the street to go to a friend's place. Instead I hear kids in the store telling their parents that so-and-so has this and therefore they need one too. It scares me at times. Is my need to own destroying my desires or opportunities to serve, bless or seek spiritual guidance? Some days I think so.

Elder Hales continues:
When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, “We can’t afford it, even though we want it!” or “We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!”

Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, “Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?” Truthfully answering these questions may help us avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.

In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite.

It's true if you think about it. Craving more is an insatiable appetite. Where does it end?

Elder Hales concludes with:

With all the love I have in me and with the Savior’s love through me, I invite you to come unto Him and hear His words: “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted” (2 Nephi 9:51).

I testify that the appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome by turning to the Lord. The hunger of addiction can only be replaced by our love for Him. He stands ready to help each one of us. “Fear not,” He said, “for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (D&C 50:41).

All week long as I have been reading this that section from Second Nephi has really spoke to me the most. Don't spend your labors for that which cannot satisfy. I wondered and continue to wonder in what areas of my life are my labors worth my devotion and what labors do I do that just don't satisfy. I think I have areas to improve on.


  1. Excellent post, and timely for me because I've just been asked to speak in a sacrament meeting on a topic near to this. Thanks for getting my thoughts going, and also for fasting for my girl... ;)

  2. I don't know what you are talking about - I was fasting for my blog designer. Did you see the awesome job she did on my temple blog? I put her in charge of all of my blog designs now.