Lesson 38: “In Mine Own Way”
1940: Gospel Messages (taken from Church Welfare Plan,” by J. Reuben Clark, Jr.)
Lesson 25: Church Revenues
Payment of tithes was required under the Law of Moses. Indeed, the early prominence given to this requirement has led to the incorrect assumption that tithe-paying had its beginning in an Israelitish statute. tithing is older than Israel. Abraham paid a tenth part of his gains to Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God. (Gen. 14:20 and Heb. 7;1-8); and Jacob made a covenant to devote to the Lord’s service a tenth of all that would come into his hands. (Gen. 28:22.)
Following the development of the children of Israel into a theocratic nation, the practice of paying tithes in kind became one of the features by which they, the worshipers of Jehovah, were distinguished from all other peoples. the requirement was explicit and its application general, to rich and poor alike. thus we read: “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. … And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Lev. 27:30, 32.)
As long as the people faithfully complied with the law of the tithe they prospered; and when they failed the land was no longer sanctified to their good. Hezekiah (2 Chron. 31:5-10) and Nehemiah (Neh. 13:10-13) reproved the people for their negligence in the matter and awakened them to the jeopardy that threatened; and, later, Malachi voiced the word of Jehovah in stern rebuke and forceful admonition, and encouraging promise, relative to the payment of the Lord’s tenth:
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:8-10.)
At the time of our Lord’s personal ministry the law had been supplemented by innumerable rules, comprising unauthorized exactions often based upon mere trivialities. Christ approved the tithe but made plain the fact that other duties were none the less imperative. (See Matt. 23:23.)
During recent years great interest has been manifest in the matter of the tithe, among theologians, ministers and intelligent laymen; and the reestablishment of tithe-paying as a religious duty has been strongly advocated. It is important to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has observed this requirement from the early days of its history – not because it was operative in ancient Israel, nor because it was law and custom among the Jews in the days of Christ, but because it has been authoritatively established through modern revelation in the Church. In 1838 the Lord systematized the practice upon which the people had voluntarily entered, and defined the tithe as a tenth of one’s individual possessions: “and this,” said he, “shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been tithed, shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my Holy Priesthood, saith the Lord.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 119:3-4.) the manner in which the tithes of the people are to be paid and the channels through which the contributions are to be distributed and used in the work of the Church are specifically set forth.
As of old, so in the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints today, tithing is the divinely established revenue system by which the pecuniary needs of the ecclesiastical community are provided for. and as of old so today, tithe-paying must be a voluntary free-will sacrifice, not to be exacted by secular power nor enforced by infliction of fines or other material penalties. the obligation is self-assumed; nevertheless it is one to be observed with full purpose of heart by the earner who claims standing in the Church and who professes to abide by the revealed word given for the spiritual development of its members.
It is essential that men learn to give. Without provision for this training the curriculum in the school of mortality would be seriously defective. Human wisdom has failed to devise a more equitable scheme of individual contribution for community needs than the simple plan of the tithe. Every one is invited to give in amount proportioned to his income, and to so give regularly and systematically. The spirit of giving makes the tithe holy; and it is by means thus sanctified that the material activities of the Church are carried on. Blessings, specific and choice, are promised the honest tithe-payer; and these blessings are placed within the reach of all. In the Lord’s work the widow’s penny is as acceptable as the gold piece of the millionaire.
Tithing is the rental we are asked to pay on the property committed to our keeping and use. We are but temporary holders, lessees of property the ultimate title of which is vested in Him who created all that is.
The Latter-day Saints believe that the tithing system has been divinely appointed for their observance; and they esteem themselves blessed in thus being permitted to have part in the furtherance of God’s purposes. Under this system the people have prospered severally and as an organized body. It is the simple and effective revenue law of the Church; and its operation has been a success from the time of its establishment. Amongst us it obviates the necessity of taking up collections in religious assemblies, and makes possible the promulgation of the church’s message through the printed and spoken word, the building and maintenance of Temples for the benefit of both living and dead, to an extent that would be otherwise unattainable.
Church Income Sources
The income of the church is derived principally from four sources:
Tithing: Each Church member is supposed to give to the Church a voluntary, wholly free-will contribution of one-tenth of his annual increase. The member himself is the sole judge of the amount.
The Fast Offerings: Each member is asked to fast for two meals on the fist Sunday in each month, and to give as a wholly voluntary contribution the equivalent of those meals, which is used for the support of the poor. More than 184,000 Church members made contributions of this sort during 1938.
Ward Maintenance: Each member is asked to make a voluntary contribution of something for the maintenance of the ward meeting house, amusement hall, and like buildings.
Auxiliary Organizations: Small voluntary contributions to the auxiliary organizations are made by their members to cover cost of publications, editorial and clerical help, and like purposes.
Income from Invested Surpluses of the Church of Past Years: these investments are mainly in local Utah securities, and chiefly in financial institutions and commercial industries. The Church has made its investments primarily to assist in establishing these enterprises for the general welfare of the people of the area.
The Church owns no railway securities, no national industrial or financial securities, and a small amount only of government securities. The Church does not have great wealth. Out of the total budget for 1938 only a little over 12% came from Church surplus investments.
The Church is thus almost completely dependent for its activities and support upon the voluntary contributions of its members, and no church or other discipline is invoked to force contributions or against those not making such contributions, which are thus wholly free will offerings. a man failing to pay his tithing is not regarded as in “good standing,” but no action of any kind is taken against him for his failure.
Since the setting up of the Church Welfare Plan, opportunity has been afforded for special contributions to this purpose. Members and non-Church members have generously responded, but the bulk of all revenues comes from the foregoing regular sources.
1940: Gospel Messages
Lesson 26: The Law of Giving
First, as to the obligations of those who have not – the love of neighbor:
The Church accepts literally the Messianic dictum, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:5), and also the declaration of James: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ (James 1:27).
The Church likewise literally accepts the Master’s words to the rich young man who affirmed that all his life he had kept the great commandments: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21).
The church affirms that through His modern prophets, the Lord has commanded: “And behold, thou wilt remember the poor and consecrate of thy properties for their support, that which thou has to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto Me.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:30,3 1.)
“Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief.” (Doctrine and Covenants 44:6.)
“Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, a nd of judgment and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!” (D. and c. 56:16.)
“Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of My gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.” (D. and C. 104:18.)
“But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ, ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good – to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:18, 19.)
“Verily, thus saith the Lord, in addition to the laws of the Church concerning women and children, those who belong to the Church, who have lost their husbands or fathers;
“Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the Church.
* * * *
“All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.
“And after that, they have claim upon the Church, or in other words, upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances.
“And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.” (D. and C. 83.)
1940: Gospel Messages
Lesson 27: The Law of Receiving
Next as to certain social obligations resting upon all, including the poor, and involving certain principles that are fundamental to a free and ordered society:
To Adam at the very beginning came the judgment: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” (Gen. 3:19.) This is the law of this earth.
At Sinai the law was more fully stated:
“Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:
* * * *
“Thou shalt not steal.
* * * *
“Thou shalt not covet.” (Ex. 20: 10, 15, 17.)
The church accepts as the word of the Lord in this day this commandment on covetousness:
“Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands!
“But blessed are the poor whoa re pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.
“For behold, the Lord shall come, and His recompense shall be with Him, and He shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice;
“And their generations shall inherit the earth from generation to generation, forever and ever.” (D. and C. 56:17-20.)
The great leader Brigham Young said:
“My experience has taught me, and it has become a principle with me, and that it is never any benefit to give out and out to man or woman, money, food, clothing, or anything else, if they are able-bodied and can work and earn what they need, when there is anything on earth for them to do. this is my principle and I try to act upon it. To pursue a contrary course would ruin any community in the world and make them idlers.”
“To give to the idler is as wicked as anything else. Never give anything to the idler.”
“Set the poor to work – setting out orchards, splitting rails, digging ditches, making fences, or anything useful, and so enable them to buy meal and flour and the necessities of life.”
In the earlier days of the church the word came:
“Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them, and their children also are growing up in wickedness: they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness.
“These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them.” (D. and C. 68:31, 32.)
Thus the Divine commands to the Church and the directions of its leaders to the people, require as a fundamental principle of their religion that Church members not in distress shall care for the needy widow and orphan, and for the poor, and that these latter shall not lay their hands on other men’s goods, they shall not be greedy or covetous, they shall not be idlers, and the physically fit shall work for what they get. No exception has been made to these commands, and no person has been taken out from under them.
The Church vigorously decries idleness. Industry, economy, and thrift are extolled. Deceit, avarice, dishonesty, lying, greed, graft, are condemned. Honesty, truthfulness, sobriety, willingness to give, love for fellow men, sympathy for woe, misery, and want, service to and for others, are urged to the point of command.
These are the reasons for setting up the Church Welfare Plan; they are the Principles underlying it.
1949: Church History and Modern Revelation, by Joseph Fielding Smith
A Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums
Lesson 88: The United Order – Care of the Poor
D.H.C. Vol. 2:46-60.
D. & C. Sec. 104.
1. The Problem of the Redemption of Zion. Note 1.
a. Manifestations of the mob spirit.
b. Whipping of Ira J. Willis.
c. The case of “Dr.” Philastus Hurlburt.
d. Obtaining funds for Zion.
e. If Zion is not redeemed the whole Church ot suffer.
2. Commandments Concerning Properties of the United Order
a. The United Order.
b. Covenants broken.
c. Judgment on transgressors.
d. The Lord will not be mocked.
e. Appointment of stewardships.
f. The Purpose of the Lord to provide for saints.
3. The Earth Is Full and Enough to Spare. Note 3.
a. Men agents unto themselves.
b. Every man to impart his portion.
c. Properties apportioned in stewardships.
d. Blessings to follow faithfulness.
4. The United Order of the Stake of Zion of Kirtland. Note 4.
a. Separation of the United Order in Kirtland from that in Missouri.
b. Business to be done in names of stewards in the order.
c. All properties belong to the Lord.
d. Revelations and history to be printed.
e. A treasury and treasurer to be provided for sacred things.
f. A seal upon the treasury.
g. A second treasury and treasurer to be provided for moneys and property.
h. All things to be by common consent.
i. Transgressors to be removed.
j. Church debts to be paid.
k. Humility, faithfulness and prayer required to bring victory.
1. The mob spirit in Missouri at the beginning of the year 1834, continued to be the most bitter and murderous towards members of the Church, and had reached out and had entered the hearts of many in and around Kirtland. March 31, 1834, a young man, Ira J. Willis returned from Clay to Jackson County, looking for a stray cow. He was captured by a gang of mobbers and severely beaten by their leader, Moses Wilson. In Kirtland and the surrounding country the hatred had been stirred up largely by the notorious “Dr.” Philastus Hurlburt. He had threatened the life of the Prophet and had circulated many falsehoods. The Prophet prayed that his evil actions might be brought to an end. Hurlburt was taken before the court April 9, 1834, and placed under bonds to keep the peace (See D.H.C. 2:49.). This had a retarding influence on his actions.
The Church being in dire distress financially, brethren had been sent out to see if they could not collect funds for its relief, both in Kirtland and for Zion. A strong appeal to Orson Hyde was issued April 7, 1834. (See D.H.C. 2:48.) In the minutes of a conference held at Norton, Medina County, Ohio, the deliverance of Zion was earnestly discussed. The Prophet Joseph Smith who was present said in the course of his remarks that “if Zion is not delivered, the time is near when all of this Church, wherever they may be found, will be persecuted and destroyed in like manner;” that is in the manner in which the saints in Jackson County were destroyed. Destruction in this sense means to be persecuted, mobbed and scattered, their property being lost to them.
2. On the 10th of April, a council of the United Order was held. It was there agreed that the Order, as it was then organized, be dissolved, and each member have his stewardship set off to him. Previously to this time, the United Order of Zion and of Kirtland stood as one unit. On April 23, 1834, the Prophet received an important revelation concerning the “Order of the church for the benefit of the poor.” (D. & C. 104.) The Lord calls attention to the fact that this was an order by counsel and commandment, concerning properties which belong to the order which he had commanded to be organized and established to be an united order, and an everlasting order for the benefit of the Church and the salvation of men until he should come. He had made the promise which was immutable, that inasmuch as those whom he had commanded were faithful, they should be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings. If they were not faithful, they would bring down upon their heads a cursing. Inasmuch as some who had entered into this covenant had not kept it, but had been covetous he had cursed them “with a very sore and grievous curse. For I, the Lord, have decreed in my heart, that inasmuch as any man belonging to the order shall be found a transgressor, or, in other words, break the covenant with which ye are bound, he shall be cursed in his life, and shall be trodden down by whom I will; for I, the Lord, am not to be mocked in these things.” (vs. 4-6.) All of this would come to pass that the innocent, those who were faithful, may not be condemned with the unjust, and that the guilty among them may not escape. A crown of glory was promised for all those who were true to their covenants on the right hand of the Lord. The transgressors were not to escape the wrath of the Lord during their lives, and they would be turned over to the buffeting of Satan until the day of redemption should come.
Who could be more unworthy before the Lord than a covenant breaker? It matters not whether it is a covenant of consecration, a covenant made in the waters of baptism, of ordination to the Priesthood, a covenant of marriage in the House of the Lord, or whatever it may be, that person who violates the covenant is worthy of the Lord’s extreme contempt. We are all assured that our eternal Father will never violate a covenant and when his children receive his covenants and remain true in them to the end, the promises will be fulfilled. If these solemn pledges are broken then the covenant breaker is worthy of receiving the punishment of “a very sore and grievous curse.”
“Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments? …
“I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
“Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.” (D. & C. Sec. 58:30-33.)
Yet we find in the Church today after all these years, and the severe experiences of the past which brought so much pain and sorrow upon our people, that we still have a great many who have made the most solemn covenants in sacred places, and then have deliberately violated them. These will also receive the wrath of an offended Father, and there awaits them the reward of the transgressor – “a very sore and grievous curse.” All such will have to be removed from the Father’s kingdom before the law of consecration can be established.
3. While the Lord, according to this covenant and law, gave to each man his stewardship, and every man was to give an account of his stewardship, yet they should remember that the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. He has said: “I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork, and all things therein are mine; and it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.” (vs. 14-15.)
It is the failing of many men, who, apparently, are willing to receive the covenants of the Lord, to want to modify them to suit their own fancy. We find this class in the Church today; they were in it in 1834, and they will be in it until the great day of cleansing comes. The Lord expects of his children implicit obedience and complete acceptance of his laws. We have no right or power to alter them. It is the proclivity of man from the beginning to want to change the laws of the Lord and substitute his own. For this reason we have man-made governments on the earth today and a condition of turmoil and strife which has continued from the beginning. Never can there be perfect peace and happiness until man upon the earth is willing to accept counsel and become obedient to divine law. This, today, he is not willing to do. The Lord impressed upon the Church in 1834, that this great law and covenant of consecration, or United Order, “must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.” (v. 16) In speaking of the exaltation of the poor, the Lord did not intend to convey, as some may think, that he was to take from the rich and make them poor, but that through this divine law there would come an equality and in humility all would be made rich in the abundance that would be gathered into the storehouse of the Lord, and every man should be provided with an abundance.
“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (v. 17.) The abundance of the earth is so plentiful, through the mercies of the father, that all could have “enough and to spare” if the commandments of the Lord were strictly kept. In another revelation the Lord said: “Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this (i.e. keep the commandments), the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; yea all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.” Then the Lord adds: “And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.” (D. & C. Sec. 59:16-20.)
Thus we learn that the Lord has created all these things for the use of man to be used in judgment, in equality according to the needs of each. Greediness cannot be the case with all who enter into the covenant of consecration when it is established.
Then, in the revelation (D. & C. Sec. 104:20-42) the Lord assigns stewardships to many of the brethren. he commanded that there should be a separation of the United Order in Zion from the Order in Kirtland. Each was to act henceforth independently of the other. Distance was too great between these places for unity of purpose in all things. Each order was to be organized in the names of the brethren residing in each place, and to do business in their own names. This separation and dissolving of the former order came about also because of transgression and covetousness on the part of some. They were to understand that all the properties were the Lord’s, otherwise their faith was vain, and therefore they were stewards before the Lord. All of this was to be done for the purpose of building up the Church and Kingdom of God on the earth, and to prepare the people for the time when the Lord should come to dwell upon the earth. (v. 59.)
There were to prepare a treasury and a treasurer for the sacred things of the church. One who was wise was to be appointed to this labor. Then again they were to have another treasury and treasurer to keep the moneys and properties of the Church. These men so appointed were to be trustworthy and fitted for their callings. A seal was to be placed upon each treasury. In the first all the sacred documents, writings and all sacred things that should be preserved, should have a seal, which was to be placed upon them. In the second treasury should be placed the funds received from the people, which funds were to be used for holy and sacred purposes. (vs. 60-69.)
All these things were to be done by common consent. There were to be no dictators in the management of the Lord’s business. No part of the funds or property could be taken out of the treasury without the voice of the order. If any man among them should declare, I have need of this to help me in my stewardship, if it be five talents, or ten talents (dollars) or whatever the amount his claim might be it was to be investigated and if found to be worthy the request would be granted. this had to be, however, by the common consent.
Transgressors among the stewards were to be removed after an investigation and the guilt was proved before the council of the order. When a man was faithful and wise in his stewardship he was to be rewarded. The Church being in debt, the Lord called upon the members to pay their debts. If they would humble themselves and be true and faithful in the discharge of their responsibilities, the Lord would send means for their deliverance. They were to write to those in New York unto whom they were in bondage and the Lord would soften their hearts so his people would not be afflicted. Humility, diligence, faithfulness in their stewardships, and unity of purpose, were necessary qualities in order to bring to pass the deliverance from their bondage. They were privileged also to pledge the properties in their hands which belonged to the Church “this once” and to lend moneys that might come into their hands to help them out of their bondage, but it was to be for this one time only. The Lord adds: “I give unto you this privilege, this once; and behold if you proceed to do the things which I have laid before you, according to my commandments, all these things are mine, and ye are my stewards, and the master will not suffer his house to be broken up. Even so. Amen.”
1957: Living the Gospel, by Gerrit DeJong, Jr.: Gospel Doctrine Lessons
Lesson 40: The Church Welfare Plan
Welfare work is not new. Ever since its organization in 1830, the church has encouraged its members to establish and maintain their economic independence; it has encouraged thrift and fostered the establishment of employment-creating industries; it has stood ready at all times to help needy faithful members.
The Church called for renewed emphasis on the welfare phase of its work in 1936. the First Presidency organized a General Church Welfare committee to assist the General authorities in the detailed administrative work of coordinating and supervising the labors of the regularly established Church organizations in their large and important welfare operations. Since then the movement has become widely known as the “Church Welfare Plan.”
Underlying Principles of Church Welfare.
“Our primary purpose,” said the First Presidency, “was to set up, insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. the aim of the church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.” (Conference Report, October 1936, page 3.)
Church Welfare accepts as fundamental the proposition that the responsibility for a person’s economic maintenance rests upon himself. If he is not able to maintain himself, his family should assume the responsibility for his maintenance. If the family cannot do this, the Church should aid to the extent of need, if he is a faithful member of the church.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat brad, till thou return unto the ground.” (Genesis 3:19.) In these words did the Lord give to Adam and Eve, as they left the Garden of Eden, the economic law under which men were to live out their lives upon the earth.
Few evils has the Lord denounced with more vehemence than idleness. “Thou shalt not be idle,” He said to the Church on February 9, 1831, “for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” (Doc. and Cov. 42:42.) In November of the same year, He said that the “idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord,” that he might mend his ways (Doc. and cov. 68:30.) In January 1832 He said, “And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (Doc. and Cov. 75:29.)
Faithful to this principle, welfare workers will earnestly teach and urge Church members to be self-sustaining to the full extent of their powers. No true Latter-day Saint will, while physically able, voluntarily shift from himself the burden of his own support. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Almighty and with his own labors, he will supply himself with the necessities of life.
No person should become a charge upon the public when his relatives are able to care for him. Every consideration of kinship, of justice and fairness, of the common good, and even of humanity itself, requires this. Therefore all church Welfare workers will urge to the utmost the caring for the needy by their kin, if they have sufficient funds or supplies to enable them to do so. Where church relatives, financially competent to take care of their kin, refuse to do so, the matter should be reported to the bishop of the ward in which such relatives reside.
“But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” (I Timothy 5:8.)
From the beginning the Lord has laid upon the church the obligation of providing the necessities of life for such of its members as are unable to provide for themselves and who do not have relatives who can and will provide for them. This responsibility is based upon the great law of giving. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and upon the principle of the widow’s mite: “And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” (Mark 12:43-44.) to the rich young man who affirmed that all his life he had kept the great commandments, the master speaking to the same import said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” the young man went away sorrowful and the Savior said to his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:21-23.)
In modern days the word of the Lord has been just as definite. He has repeatedly announced the duty of the Saints to look after the poor, he has spoken of the penalties which would come to those who did not help the poor, and he has pronounced blessings upon those who administer to those in need.
In the revelation given February 9, 1831, to the Prophet Joseph, in the presence of twelve elders, the Lord said, “and behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken. and inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me.” (Doc. and Cov. 42:30-31.) Later the Lord said, “Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief.” (Doc. and Cov. 44:6.) Still later, “Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!” (Doc. and Cov. 56:16.)
When giving instructions regarding the United Order the Lord said, “Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.” (Doc. and Cov. 104:18.)
The scriptures voice but one sentiment and one doctrine – first, that it is the duty of those who have, to give to those who are in want, and next, that great blessings shall come to those who obey this law. Let him who wishes for peace and joy here and eternal riches hereafter give bounteously of his sustenance to the poor. the apostle James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27.)
Immediate Objectives of Church Welfare
The immediate objectives of Church Welfare are to:
1. Place in productive employment those who are able to work.
2. Provide productive employment within the Welfare Program, insofar as possible, for those who cannot otherwise obtain employment.
3. Acquire the means with which to supply the needy, for whom the church assumes responsibility, with the necessities of life.
4. Supply such needy with the means of living, each “according to his family, according to his circumstances, and his wants and needs.” (Doc. and Cov. 51:3.) This is to be done not as a dole, but rather in recognition of faithful service in the past and a present willingness to accept the program and labor in it to the extent of his ability.
Participants in Church Welfare potentially comprise all members of the church. those who are in need of sustenance, relief from distress, or guidance are, upon compliance with the principles of the Program, eligible to receive assistance. all Church members are counseled to contribute of their time and money to the Program.
Families, neighbors, quorums, wards, and other Church organizational units may find it wise and desirable to form small groups for extending mutual help one to the other. Such groups may plant and harvest crops, process foods, store food, clothing and fuel, and carry out other projects for mutual benefit. Such activities, however, are to be carried on separately and apart from the bishops storehouse program. Welfare-owned equipment and facilities, where not in use for the bishops storehouse program, may, under proper conditions as to care and skillful operation of the machinery, be hired for the furtherance of such activities.
The ward organization
The care of the poor is by revelation made the duty of the bishop and every member of the ward is subject to call by the bishop to assist in this work. He may request Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to help; he may call upon Aaronic Priesthood quorums to work; but primarily he works through individual ward members, for over all of them he has jurisdiction for this purpose. He may likewise call upon ward auxiliary organizations for appropriate help.
While the Welfare Program is not set up to provide activity for priesthood quorums, nor for building their morale, they may be used by the bishop in meeting his welfare responsibility. This does not mean that priesthood quorums may not, if they wish, initiate and carry on welfare projects in behalf of themselves or the members of their quorums, but these will not take the place of ward or stake projects. Nor should they be regarded as substitutes for ward and stake projects, nor interfere with the operation of them.
Priesthood quorums should assist the bishop in the production of materials for the use of the bishops in carrying out their storehouse program. In meeting this responsibility the bishop has the right to call on all members of the ward, including high priests, seventies, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. None is exempt. He may ask them to help him produce. They are not beyond the bishop’s jurisdiction at all when it comes to the care of the poor. It is his duty, and his only, to determine to whom, when, how, and how much shall be given to any member of his ward from Church funds and as ward help. This is his high and solemn obligation, imposed by the Lord himself. Whoever and whatever the help he calls in to assist him in performing this service, he is still responsible.
The membership of the ward welfare committee is as follows:
1. Chairman (the bishop).
2. Ward Employment Counselor (counselor to the bishop).
3. Ward work Director (counselor to the bishop).
4. Ward Relief Society President.
5. Ward Relief Society Employment Counselor (counselor to the ward Relief Society President).
6. Ward Relief Society Work Director (counselor tot he ward Relief Society President).
7. Member of High Priests Quorum personal welfare committee (ward group leader)(.
8. Member of Seventies quorum personal welfare committee (chairman of quorum personal welfare committee if he lives in the ward).
9. Member of elders Quorum personal welfare committee (quorum president if he lives in the ward.)
10. Secretary (ward clerk, or preferably an assistant ward clerk serving the ward welfare committee.)
Every principle and policy of Church Welfare is submitted to and approved by the General authorities before it is given to the membership of the church. A weekly meeting attended by the First Presidency, advisors from the Council of the twelve, the Assistants to the Twelve, advisers from the First council of Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric and the General Relief Society Presidency, with the General Church Welfare Committee, provides an opportunity for a discussion of, and decision on, all Church Welfare problems and policies.
The Relief Society
r, you will do it unto me.” (Doc. and cov. 42:31.)Since the earliest days of the Church the Relief society has been and still is the bishop’s chief help in administering to the needs of those in distress. It has lived up to its objective, which the Prophet Joseph Smith said, on the day its organization was completed, “is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes.” It has lived up to the prediction the Prophet then made to the Relief Society sisters that “they will pour in oil and wine to the wounded heart of the distressed, they will dry up the tears of the orphan and make the widow’s heart to rejoice.’ (Documentary History of the Church, Volume 4, page 567.)
Later the Prophet said to the sisters: “This is a charitable Society, and according to your natures, it is natural for females to have feelings of charity and benevolence. You are now placed in a situation in which you can act according to those sympathies which God has planted in your bosoms. If you live up to these principles, how great and glorious will be your reward in the celestial kingdom! If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.” (Documentary History of the Church, Volume 4, page 605.)
With this background the Relief society has been trained and prepared to handle certain phases of welfare work better than any other agency.
To insure production of the annual Church Welfare budget it is necessary to develop within the Welfare Program itself the resources and facilities in and upon which welfare production consisting principally of food, clothing, and fuel can be produced and processed. A prime consideration in establishing all projects should be the affording of employment for those needy who can earn what they receive.
With the help of the members of their respective ward welfare committees, bishoprics have the responsibility, with the knowledge and approval of the stake welfare committee, of acquiring and operating ward welfare production projects. What they are to be, where they are to be established, how they are to be financed, and who is to do the volunteer work to insure their success should be considered in ward welfare committee meetings. the most acceptable projects are those suited to diversified production. Farming projects should be selected with a view to producing as large a variety of welfare needs as possible.
Stake and regional committees and the General church Welfare Committee assist bishoprics in this production. they are not, however, to supplant them.
Every member of the Church who appreciates his membership should find out what his personal obligations in regard to the Church Welfare Plan are, and then discharge them, feeling grateful that an organized opportunity is afforded him to share in the blessings the Lord has promised the faithful. “Inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, you will do it unto me.” (Doc. and Cov. 42:31.)
In the General conference of October, 1936, President David O. McKay said: “It is something to supply clothing to the scantily clad, to furnish ample food to those whose table is thinly spread, to give activity to those who are fighting desperately the despair that comes from enforced idleness, but after all is said and done, the greatest blessings that will accrue from the Church Welfare Plan are spiritual. Outwardly, every act seems to be directed toward the physical: remaking of dresses and suits of clothes, canning fruits and vegetables, storing foodstuffs, choosing the fertile fields for settlement – all seem strictly temporal, but permeating all these acts, inspiring and sanctifying them, is the element of spirituality.” In the last analysis, it is the amount of compassion and love shown rather than the amount of material help extended through the Church Welfare Plan which is going to ensure the blessings that will ultimately accrue to the Latter-day Saints as a people.
1960: Parent and Youth / Dr. Asahel D. Woodruff
Lesson 18: Economic Responsibility in a Mature Latter-day Saint
1. The Blessedness of Work
An important aspect of adult maturity is a realistic understanding of one’s economic capacities, and the willingness and ability to live in harmony with them. As in the case of all other aspects of maturity, much of it must be developed during the process of growing up. The normal adolescent is seriously concerned about his capacity as a bread-winner. As long as his family feeds, clothes, and schools him he has little opportunity to try his economic wings. However, when he begins to think about marriage, and about the development of independence, the problem of income confronts him.
The role of women in vocational activities is still an unsettled question, but in recent years their adolescent behavior has been much like that of boys in this regard. most adolescents experiment with jobs in various ways. They do it much as a young cat first stalks a mouse. It is a try-out, or a game. In some instances the usual period of easy-going trial is cut short or missing due to economic necessity in the parental family. Ordinarily boys and girls hunt up various kinds of jobs during high school and college. As the novelty of the experience wears off attention is turned more and more to the financial reward.
Following these early experiences, young people come gradually to be aware of the numerous aspects of economic responsibility, and each in turn brings its deep concern and its possibility of fine development or of further difficulty.
The gospel includes certain concepts of economic maturity which have been enunciated from time to time, both in scripture and by world leaders within and without the Church. Let us first review these concepts, and then turn to the matter of helping our young people measure up to the standards of the gospel.
Contrary to certain modern ideas, the gospel presents work as a blessing to mankind. Note in the following quotation, that the ground was cursed not to give Adam sorrow, but for his sake. Sorrow is incidental to the real purpose.
And unto Adam he said … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Gen. 3:17-19 and 23.)
A knowledge of the plan of salvation, including the deliberate placing of Adam and Eve upon the earth so they could launch the mortal family, leaves us with no possible doubt that a life of work upon the earth is absolutely essential to the development of a satisfying immortality for our Father’s family. how can we think, then, that we have been handicapped by having to earn our living through toil? President Clark has spoken to this point.
Another great principle to which I would like to call your attention is the command given to Adam when he left the Garden of Eden; ‘By the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread.’ This is the great law of work, and the Lord has given us no greater blessing, given us no commandment that will be more helpful in carrying out his plan than this law of work. (Clark, J.R., Jr., April Conf. Rec. p. 78, April 7, 1951.)
His instructions but reflect the basic philosophy of honest labor which is fundamental to the whole scheme of individual growth and development. A bit of sound advice to people in all kinds of conditions is given by Korsaren.
If you are poor, work. If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities, work. If you are happy, work. Idleness gives room for doubts and fears. If disappointments come, keep right on working. If sorrows overwhelm you and loved ones seem not true, work. work as if your life was in peril. It really is. Work faithfully – work with faith. work is the greatest remedy available for both mental and physical afflictions. (Korsaren.)
The Gospel also places emphasis on the fact that every man should be a producer. Three somewhat vigorous statements from modern revelation emphasize this.
Thou shalt not be idle: for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer. (D.C. 42:42.)
Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor. For your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved! wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands! (D.C. 56:16-17)
Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways. (D.C. 75:29.)
They also emphasized the need for subjugating the products of labor to the well-being of men rather than accumulating them beyond the requirements of comfort. Not only is the idler castigated for his parasitic nature, but the hoarder who allows his vision to be buried in his wealth is just as useless to the Kingdom of God in the final analysis.
Another point of emphasis in the gospel strikes at the heart of many modern practices such as production-control, in which workers deliberately slow down production below a rate which is normal and natural for an honest worker. President Grant was a powerful advocate of honest labor, as indicated in the following excerpt from a sermon.
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven, upon which all blessings are predicated, and no man will get the blessing without fulfilling the law. I wish to impress upon the Latter-day Saints that we get in this life what we work for, and I want to urge every Latter-day Saint to be a worker.
Men should have pride I doing their full share and never want to be paid for that which they have not earned. Men should be rewarded for doing the best that they can. (Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 109, Era 42:585.)
Solomon seemed to find it necessary to mention the same thing repeatedly in his writings.
Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings. (Prov. 22:29.)
In this statement he exemplified a principle which has always held true. Those who labor diligently and intelligently, and learn to do more than is required of them, usually move up in life and find themselves working with responsible people, and in responsible positions. Half-hearted effort does not accomplish this sort of development.
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.’ (Eccl. 9:10)
The glories and wonders of the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be produced by half-hearted labor. In mortality the supply of things rarely gets very far ahead of the demand, and mortality is marked by a marginal prosperity in almost every respect. One of the outstanding characteristics of God’s eternal kingdom is the abundance of prosperity they include. Will it there, more than here, exist without toil, or will it not be abundant unless every one works at his highest level of productivity? The Lord has given us plenty of admonition on this, as represented by the instruction to live so that we can be truly productive.
Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated. (D.C. 88:124.)
2. Some Principles of Economic Righteousness
Another item stressed in the Lord’s teachings is the necessity of keeping out of debt, and paying as we go along. There is something immature and wishful in behavior which continually mortgages the future by contracting long-standing obligations, for current conveniences and pleasures. President Grant was particularly emphatic on this issue.
Right here let me warn the Latter-day Saints to buy automobiles and to buy the ordinary necessities of life when they have the money to buy them, and not to mortgage their future. I have heard of people over in England who regularly mortgage their Sunday clothes Monday morning and take them out of ‘hock’ the next Saturday night. I want to say to you that those who discount their future, who run into debt for the ordinary necessities of life and for the luxuries of life, are laying burdens upon themselves that will come back with compound interest to cause them great trouble and humiliation. (Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 111, CR, April 1926:7.)
Debt is one of the surest ways to sell our independence, and become slaves to others. Ancient as well as modern prophets have warned us against this.
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule; but the slothful shall be under tribute. (Prov. 12:24.)
The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Prov. 22:7.)
A companion principle to the matter of keeping out of debt is the necessity for keeping one’s pledges and obligations after they are made. Even on this matter the Lord has spoken.
Keep all your pledges one with another, and covet not that which is thy brother’s. (D.C. 136:20.)
Finally, the Gospel teaches us that solid and long-lasting prosperity is contingent upon practicing righteousness in all our dealings, including our economic activities. In fact, it is said that prosperity in economic matters is the natural result of obedience to principles of righteousness in personal and social life. If we could eliminate selfishness and laziness, if we could learn to share with each other so that each person’s needs could be met, if we could learn to find joy in making great contributions and in being good producers, and if we could all value our integrity to the elimination of deceit and dishonesty in all forms, the ensuing productivity would produce wealth quickly. it has been so at other times, as witness the Nephites. The Priests in the time of Alma labored along with the people, and both left their work when they held religious meetings. all were qual, all labored, every man according to his strength.
They did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely. … And now, because of the steadiness of the church, they began to be exceeding rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need – and abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth … and they did not set their hearts upon riches … having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need. And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to the church.
Those who did not belong to the church indulged in idleness, wastefulness, and sorcery, not to mention other practices which keep us from fruitful labor, and they sought to substitute for it the illusional processes of wishing. The Lord has said in our time that:
Inasmuch as they bring forth fruit and works meet for My Kingdom, they shall dwell thereon; they shall build, and another shall not inherit it; they shall plant vineyards, and they shall eat the fruit thereof. (D.C. 101:100-101.)
Not only will we prosper if we keep the Lord’s commandments, but we will retain our lands and our wealth and enjoy their blessings. This is not because the Lord will step in and arbitrarily see that things stay in that condition, but because through the ways we act we will be putting forth into effect the natural economic and social laws that preserve peace and avoid waste. This is what it means to labor in righteousness all the days of our lives. this is what Zion is intended to be, a land of the pure in heart, or in other words al and of people educated to the eternal principles of righteousness in economic, spiritual, social, scientific, and all other aspects of life. This is the real meaning of maturity.
3. The Right Kind of Work
One of the most significant parts of our economic life is the preparation for and the finding of suitable employment. Adolescence is the time to make the most notable preparation, just as it is the time in which the individual’s interest is aroused most vividly, and in which he is maturing in his understanding of economic problems. Within the last few years our nation has seen a very rapid development in the provision of vocational counseling services. At present they are available for veterans through the Veteran’s Administration, for college students of most colleges through the college administration, and in many high schools for high school students. The quality of these services varies from excellent to rather poor and sketchy. counseling services which are properly organized and staffed are capable of giving real help to young people.
Does It Really Matter, After All?
The question may be asked, “Isn’t all this complicated procedure unnecessary? Haven’t people been growing up and going to work for hundreds of years without any serious difficulty?
It is true that most adults have found aa vocation in which they could make a living and support a family. It is also true, as a bit of looking around will soon verify, that there is an important difference between earning a living and living the abundant life. In the past too much attention has been given to the wage part of a job and not enough to the other satisfactions the right work can afford. Those who choose a vocation with the idea of finding somethign which others will think well of, usually make the t4ragic error of overlooking the need for finding soemthing in which the worker can be happy; and once established in a job, few people have the courage to pull up stakes and make a readjustment. As a consequence many bread winners have lived half a life, enduring much they disliked in orde to discharge their family obligations. It is a minor tragedy when an adult spends his life wishing justifiably that he had chosen in his earlier years a line of work more in keeping with his own values, interests and abilities. The time to avoid such regrets is in adolescence. The wise parent avoids telling a young person what to do, and helps him explore himself and the opportunities around him in the search for economic maturity.
Finding a Job
Young people become located in permanent jobs in two general ways. (1) They take whatever shows up at the time, often drifting into something because they worked at it in earlier years, and allow changes or advancements to depend on circumstance. (2) They plan a career, considering a number of important matters that have to do with economic adjustment. If the first procedure brings desirable results it is a matter of chance. The second course is to be preferred. Nevertheless it is possible to make serious mistakes even when trying to plan intelligently. Left to themselves, adolescents may easily drop into the first procedure. Even when they attempt to make an analysis of their prospects they are rarely able to discover and weigh all the important considerations. teachers and parents can make an important contribution to the process. Most emphatically that contribution does not consist of making decisions for them. It consists of helping them recognize the important questions, and finding the answers to them. It is a common thing to find young men whose parents have selected a career for them which is not at all suitable or interesting to the youth. Often such boys are unhappy about the situation but are unable to present their cases to their parents and their parents are not aware of the boys’ real possibilities.
Every adolescent should seek to answer these basic questions about his economic possibilities:
1. What kinds of work are available in the world?
2. Which of those kinds of work would enable me to live in the way I feel to be important? that is, in which of them can I achieve my basic values such as home life, religion, friendship, or personal improvement, or whatever my basic values are?
3. Which of those whose conditions of living are harmonious with my values involve activities which are in the realm of my highest interests? For example, one excellent interest test shows that a person’s dominant interest may be in scientific, clerical, m3chanical, persuasive, musical, artistic, literary, computational, or social service activities.
4. Of those which seem so far desirable, which require a degree of ability or skill which is within my reach? That is, for which do I have the necessary intelligence and the particular aptitudes?
5. Of the types of work now considered desirable, which ones require a type of preparation I can afford and obtain? How much does it cost, how long does it take and is it available?
How Does One Decide?
The answers to these questions depend upon two fundamental kinds of experience. (1) A survey of the world’s work. This survey should be broad enough to give the individual a picture of the variety of jobs there are, the type of living possible in connection with each job, where the jobs are located, and any other characteristic that seems important to him. (2) an analysis of one’s self. In this self-analysis the individual should try to determine what life conditions are important to him; what his basic values are; the nature of his best capacities and abilities; the type of activity in which he is most interested; his resources in time, money, and energy, and the obligations he faces with the times at which they must be met. These two analyses are rather complex, which means they cannot be made in a hurry.
Exploration of the world’s work begins at least as far back as the Boy Scout program, especially in the splendid merit badge activities. For girls it may begin in the Girl Scout activities. The “group requirements” of high schools and colleges are another effort in the same direction. activity programs in modern schools promote the same sort of growth. So do the adolescent’s experiences with various jobs. Carefully selected reading matter offers a rich breadth of contact with vocational activities over a wide area. Schools and wards have at their command for the asking hundreds of films made up for the express purpose of illustrating the sorts of work one may find in various industries. The young person’s contact with adults gives him indirect contact with many types of work. A planned program of exploration is much more effective than to rely on casual experience.
To know one’s personal resources well also requires time. Each personal adventure with responsibility of any sort offers an opportunity for self-appraisal. A wise adult can help the adolescent make that appraisal when the opportunity might otherwise be passed by. For example, young people usually like to talk over their experiences with their parents. Almost any experience will do. Suppose John has just made the basketball team. being proud of it he will gladly tell his father how he did it. It requires no special conversational skill at this point to lead John to relive his hours of intense effort and self-discipline during training. he can easily remember that Sam didn’t make the team because he wouldn’t abide by training rules, or because he didn’t really give himself to the practice. John can also tell with some accuracy about how he stacks up with others in muscular coordination, which is an item of self evaluation. If John failed to make the team, perhaps he and his Dad could figure it out and find out why. This is useful conversation to john because it helps him to go back into his experience and find the important meanings therein.
4. Wise Use of Our Assets
One other aspect of economic responsibility should be discussed in this chapter. It is not sufficient that a person learn how to earn money. he must also learn how to manage his assets and resources so that he obtains from them the maximum satisfaction and good.
Can a person spend 40 per cent of his income on a home, 30 per cent of it on food, 20 per cent of it on clothes, 20 per cent of it on recreation, and 10 per cent of it on a car? Why not? Some people try to, but it usually causes trouble. A very important phase of economic maturity is the ability to manage money wisely, as, for example, through a budget.
The actual teachings of budget making can be learned by a normal adult in a few hours, but it is not the technique of budgeting which is of greatest concern to us here. Unless there is a disposition to use money efficiently, some sense of the purchasing power of a dollar, and a fair perspective of the relative value of various purchasable commodities, no amount of budgetary skill will make a person economically secure.
There is only one way to get such characteristics, and that is by handling money, or among children, such commodities as candy, gum, and toys. It is quite feasible to start this type of educational experience as early as the second year of life. When a child breaks up a toy, he has “spent” his budget. The words “all gone” can come to ring with an awful solemnity if the parent is willing to be realistic with the child. A package of gum is given to a child, and it is suggested that by good management he may be able to have gum for several days. if he does, he has learned something of the value of budgeting. If he doesn’t, he will learn something of the sorrows of the spendthrift.
A cash allowance is good for children, but its value is largely deprived from its power to develop their financial skills. such an outcome depends on whether the parents will help the child account for his stewardship, and offer helpful suggestion as to methods of money management from time to time. This does not mean that the parent should tell the child what to buy – rather how to plan what to buy. The payment of tithing on these allowances is an excellent schooling in money management as well as in responsibility.
As soon as the child can understand the family budget, and this is much earlier than many believe in most cases, he should be included in the family financial council and heard with respect. If his ideas are logical they can be accepted; if illogical perhaps he can be led to see why. In any case they can be voted on, just as can the ideas of any other member of the council. This idea has been tried and found helpful in so many families that there can be no question of its value and practicability.
Economic maturity, then, is a combination of ability to make money in an agreeable and useful manner, and skill in handling it wisely. An astonishing list of social and personal ills will be overcome when every person becomes economically mature. Of course, it should go without saying that all of these ideas also apply to the care of property such as the home, the clothing, the tools with which we keep house or maintain the yard and garden, the proper care of a car, and so on. After what has been said so far about the years of childhood and adolescence, for preparation for those adult responsibilities, perhaps it is not necessary to go into detail at this point on how to bring young people to a sense of responsibility for property and other resources.
This discussion might well close with a reminder that all the wealth there is, and all the property there is, exists because it was created by the Lord who put it at our disposal. Perhaps we can justifiably conclude that this was done for the purpose of giving all of us experience in economic affairs to the end that we might learn how to carry such responsibilities in the Eternal worlds to come. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” These things constitute part of His kingdom. Let us regard them as such, and seek to help our youth develop as wisely in these matters as in any others.