Monday, September 6, 2010

On spiritual self-sufficiency

We had a lesson in our High Priest Group this past Sunday about the welfare program of the church, and part of that discussion centered on the concept of spiritual self-sufficiency. I was intrigued by the discussion and made some notes during it to include here.

The idea in the welfare program is that we strive for self-sufficiency spiritually and temporally. And the reasons are clear: each member ought to have a strong testimony and be temporally strong enough to withstand the blows of life as they come. In so doing, they can be contributors in the Lord’s kingdom.

As it related to spiritual self-sufficiency, there were a few key points of interest in the discussion:

1. One brother suggested the start of spiritual self-sufficiency is a testimony of the gospel. Fair enough – if we have a testimony, we are more likely to participate and contribute spiritually and temporally. Further, we’re more likely to be in a position to teach our families and help them to do the same.

2. Another suggested that spiritual self-sufficiency grows out of (and is evidenced by) living consistently, meaning living according to our covenants and keeping the commandments because we choose to each day, rather than because our children or spouses or bishops are watching.

3. Another suggested that our spiritual self-sufficiency, ironically perhaps, is dependent upon our humility. If we are not humble, we are less likely to feel the promptings of the spirit, and if we do not feel those promptings, we will not follow them.

4. Our instructor then reminded us of Mosiah 4:16-20, in which King Benjamin reminds us that we are all beggars. Our instructor then suggested that the phrase spiritual self-sufficiency is a bit of a problem in and of itself, because we can never be completely self-sufficient: we are constantly begging for the Savior’s mercy, and without His grace we would never have access to the atonement.

This was a great discussion for me. Often I find myself thinking I know what there is to know on a subject, or that I’m squared away testimony-wise on a particular point of doctrine or history. Sometimes that feeling allows me to check out a little bit, rather than recognizing regularly my need for spiritual nourishment, my need for the Master’s mercy, and my constant dependence on His atonement for my spiritual survival.

Better to check back in and to realize that while I strive for spiritual self-sufficiency, I cannot do it alone.

4 comments:

  1. I like this. Thanks.

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  2. Michael, thanks. It was a great discussion for me.

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  3. "Often I find myself thinking I know what there is to know on a subject, or that I’m squared away testimony-wise on a particular point of doctrine or history. Sometimes that feeling allows me to check out a little bit, rather than recognizing regularly my need for spiritual nourishment, my need for the Master’s mercy, and my constant dependence on His atonement for my spiritual survival.

    Better to check back in and to realize that while I strive for spiritual self-sufficiency, I cannot do it alone. "

    That is so true.
    When I think I know it all, I don't listen. But when I remember that I need to learn more, I listen more closely to try to find what I need to know.

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  4. Michaela,

    Thanks for your comment. It makes me think of something I've been learning (again) lately -- if I'm talking, I'm not listening, and if I'm not listening, I'm not learning.

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