In the April 2009 General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales asked, “What is a provident provider?”
He answered, “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.”
He continued, “Being provident providers, we must keep that most basic commandment, ‘Thou shalt not covet.'”
Whoa. What? Who knew that was part of it?
Has coveting our neighbor’s fancy new toys or perfectly decorated home caused us to lose focus? Do we have the latest electronic device, but have neglected to follow the commandment of having a year’s supply of food? Do we have 100 pairs of shoes in our closet, but don’t have any cash on hand? Do we have growing balance on our credit cards, but fail to find a way to help others in need? Do we find ourselves thinking more about what we “want” and less of what we “need”?
Elder Hales said, “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. 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.”
Been there. Done that. And it wasn’t pretty. I thought it was. Until it wasn’t. Why did all of my pretty things not make me feel the way I thought they would? I thought I’d be happy when I had it all–the extravagent vacations, the house and the Pottery Barn furnishings. Pretty things weren’t the problem. The problem was that the pretty things began distracting me from the most important things.
It’s ok to enjoy the “wants” of life every once in a while, but we mustn’t forget our priorities.
So, what does that have to do with Provident Living? Be a provident provider requires us to get our priorities straight. Our #1 priority should always be to keep the commandments and follow the Savior. Our prophets have given us the commandment to set our houses in order and prepare every needful thing. We can’t do that when our sights are set on the things of the world. We need to turn to Him–to repent of our mistakes of the past, forgive ourselves and get to work.
“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” (Robert D. Hales, General Conference, April 2009).
As you begin or continue your journey toward provident living, remember these words: “Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond.” The best way to achieve our goal of living providently is with His divine assistance, and if we ask for it, we shall receive.