This month the visiting teaching message should be chosen from the addresses given during the April 2009, General Conference. We are instructed to choose an address that best meets the needs of those you visit. I have chosen to base my lesson on the address given by Elder Robert D. Hales, “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually.”
“When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior's example to serve and bless others.”
We are currently living in a time of economic uncertainty and adversity. As we face these difficult times, we can learn from those who have been through times such as these. There are many around us who have learned to live providently in the past, and they are great examples to us of what to do in tough times. One such example is our own Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He grew up during the Great Depression and learned how to serve others at the knee of his mother.
Often President Monson would be asked to deliver food to neighbors who were in need. He also watched his mother give odd jobs to those who were homeless in exchange for meals. These experiences helped to mold him into the man we know and love today, a compassionate man who serves the members and neighbors throughout the world. For President Monson, everyone in the world is his neighbor.
Just as President Monson grew up in uncertain economic times, so are our own children. We can learn and teach vital lessons to them through our present circumstances that will bless our children now and in the future.
According to Elder Robert D. Hales, "Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality...Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond."
These are the times that we must ask for help from our Heavenly Father. Our burdens and situations are not beyond the scope of our Savior. Every struggle can be for our own experience and good if we trust in the Lord and look to Him for help. We have been promised that the Lord will never allow us to suffer beyond that which we can endure. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Each of us are responsible to provide for ourselves and our families in temporal ways as well as spiritual ways. Elder Hales has said, "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."
He goes on to say, "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. Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed, less worthwhile if our family does not have everything the neighbors have. 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. 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...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."
Elder Hales says that there are two different lessons that we must learn in order to get ourselves out of the bondage of debt. First, we must learn to say to each other"We can't afford it, even though we want it." Second, we must learn to say, "We can afford it, but we don't need it--and we really don't even want it!"
Elder Hales also said that whenever we are faced with wanting to possess or experience something, we should ask ourselves the following question,"Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?" Answering this question truthfully can help us to avoid excessive debt.
By working toward living providently, we can free ourselves from bondage and become closer to our Father in Heaven. We will be able to experience His joy, His love, His confidence and the security that we can obtain only by following His teachings. This will help us on our path to eternal life and joy.