Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Self-reliance is a principle of service

My grandmother used to say that charity begins at home. I would also add that so does self-reliance. In a recent news article in the Mormon Times, writer Michael De Groote said it well, when he said, "Being self-reliant means that people set their own course and solve their own problems. Once they do this, they can help others get on their feet."

Quoting Dennis R. Lifferth, managing director of welfare services for the LDS Church, the article goes on to state, "To truly be a servant to others, ... we must have some discretionary time and the ability to serve others. This means we have a responsibility to be educated, have our own food storage, put our financial affairs in order and be employed. "

With unemployment nearing doubly digits in most of the United States, it is likely that all of us will be affected, either directly by losing our own job or indirectly through a member of our family or a friend losing their job. I am reminded of a story told to me recently of a family faced with the unemployment of both the parents. They got together and went out into the fields surrounding their community and picked corn on the cob, bringing it back into town to sell. By the time the father was able to find work, the family actually had more money in the bank than they had before the job loss. All because of their hard work at selling corn.

Some people find it too easy to coast when faced with adversity. True self-reliance means using whatever resources we have to keep going. About the time I heard the story about the family surviving on the sale of corn, I listened to a news account about a Marine facing the end of his enlistment. He wanted to go to school and realized that he had saved no money during his enlistment. He tried a job delivering pizzas. However, he couldn't face the prospect of the image of a Marine delivering pizzas and quit his job after one day. He basically decided that he would rather spend his money on drinking with his buddies than preparing to go to school.

How many of us make the same decision, we would rather keep up appearances that work at a job we believe to be beneath us. Work is work and all work is valuable. If I think I am worth $100 an hour and therefore cannot work for $10 an hour, I must remember that I am only worth what someone will pay me today.

Being self-reliant means, in part, developing a positive attitude towards work and then serving others as our time and resources allow.

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