- Sometimes we see welfare as simply another gospel topic—one of the many branches on the gospel tree. But I believe that in the Lord’s plan, our commitment to welfare principles should be at the very root of our faith and devotion to Him.
The Temporal and Spiritual Are Bound Together
- The two great commandments—to love God and our neighbor—are a joining of the temporal and the spiritual. Our personal, family, and Church priorities must begin here. All other goals and actions should spring from the fountain of these two great commandments—from our love for God and for our neighbor.
Helping those in need is both a spiritual and a temporal process. If we fail to help in both of these areas, we are not meeting the needs of those that stand in need of help.
- While it is important to have our thoughts inclined toward heaven, we miss the essence of our religion if our hands are not also inclined toward our fellowman.
- Our spiritual progress is inseparably bound together with the temporal service we give to others. The one complements the other. The one without the other is a counterfeit of God’s plan of happiness.
The Lord’s Way
- The Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, “It must needs be done in mine own way.” He is not only interested in our immediate needs; He is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor.
We Are All Enlisted
The need to help the poor is not a new principle. All generations are under the same obligation to figure out what the Lord wants them to do to help those in need.
- The lesson we learn generation after generation is that rich and poor are all under the same sacred obligation to help their neighbor.
He warns us that we sometimes wait for others to provide help. This is not the Lord's way.
- Too often we notice the needs around us, hoping that someone from far away will magically appear to meet those needs. Perhaps we wait for experts with specialized knowledge to solve specific problems. When we do this, we deprive our neighbor of the service we could render, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to serve. While there is nothing wrong with experts, let’s face it: there will never be enough of them to solve all the problems. Instead, the Lord has placed His priesthood and its organization at our doorsteps in every nation where the Church is established. And, right by its side, He has placed the Relief Society. As we priesthood holders know, no welfare effort is successful if it fails to make use of the remarkable gifts and talents of our sisters.
He shares a great analogy to demonstrate the mindset we should all have when it comes to helping others.
- The Lord’s way is not to sit at the side of the stream and wait for the water to pass before we cross. It is to come together, roll up our sleeves, go to work, and build a bridge or a boat to cross the waters of our challenges.
The Greatest Organization on Earth
Concern during the Great Depression was what organization can the church provide that will help the needs of people all around the world. The Lord revealed to His prophet that the organization was already on the earth, it is the priesthood of the church.
- We already have the Lord’s organization in place. Our challenge is determining how to use it.
To use this vast organization effectively, President Uchtdorf counsels:
- Every generation must learn anew the doctrines that undergird the Lord’s way of caring for the needy. As many prophets have instructed us over the years, the welfare principles of the Church are not simply good ideas; they are revealed truths from God—they are His way of helping the needy.
We are counseled to study the principles of the welfare program. We need to familiarize ourselves with the programs already in place and then seek for answers on how they can apply in our own specific areas.
- The Lord’s way of self-reliance involves in a balanced way many facets of life, including education, health, employment, family finances, and spiritual strength. Familiarize yourself with the modern welfare program of the Church.
Once we have studied and understand the principles, we need to seek revelation from the Lord on how to apply those principles.
- Once you have studied the doctrines and principles of the Churchwide welfare plan, seek to apply what you have learned to the needs of those within your stewardship. There is no one-size-fits-all answer in Church welfare. It is a self-help program where individuals are responsible for personal self-reliance. Our resources include personal prayer, our own God-given talents and abilities, the assets available to us through our own families and extended family members, various community resources, and of course the caring support of priesthood quorums and the Relief Society. This will lead us through the inspired pattern of self-reliance.
- In the end you must do in your area what disciples of Christ have done in every dispensation: counsel together, use all resources available, seek the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, ask the Lord for His confirmation, and then roll up your sleeves and go to work.
President Uchtdorf closes by reminding us that this obligation to help others is tied to our temple covenants. We are to use our time and talents to build the kingdom of God and that includes helping our fellow man.
- Whether we are rich or poor, regardless of where we live on this globe, we all need each other, for it is in sacrificing our time, talents, and resources that our spirits mature and become refined.
Finally he says:
- It is our great and special privilege as priesthood holders to put the priesthood to work. We must not turn aside our hearts or our heads from becoming more self-reliant, caring better for the needy, and rendering compassionate service.
I heard a story just yesterday on the radio about this woman who had a tree fall on her house during a recent rain storm. It would cost thousands of dollars that this woman didn't have to take this tree off her house. The local news did a story about her and after it was on TV, the town met at this woman's house and in a couple of hours, removed the tree, fixed the roof, and we on their way home. Although this was an example of the people in one town coming together, it is a perfect example of what the Lord expects of His priesthood. The Lord wants us to help our fellow man both spiritually and temporally. I am going to look for ways to help serve others more but that service needs to focus on not just their temporal needs but also their spiritual needs as well. The balance of both of these is what God's plan for welfare is truly about.