STAKE RELIEF SOCIETY
As we look around the stake, we are concerned that many sisters have forgotten or have never learned to be frugal. Bishop J. Richard Clarke has told us that "Frugality is a principle of righteousness...Economic freedom comes from the surpluses we create."(ENSIGN November 1980, p. 84) Frugality is an important part of provident living. Provident living has been taught by the Relief Society for years. It is defined as being "wise, frugal, prudent, making provision for the future while attending to immediate needs." To be frugal is to avoid unnecessary monetary expenditure; to be thrifty. To be prudent is to use good judgment or common sense in handling practical matters. So to live providently is to be wise, to avoid spending money unnecessarily and to use common sense in practical matters so that we can take care of immediate needs and provide for the future.
Many struggle to provide for immediate needs and many more have trouble providing for the future. The most common reasons I hear for this are "I don't make enough to save very much, if any." or "We always seem to live from paycheck to paycheck. How can I find extra for food storage?" or "Insurance is so expensive." There are two ways to help solve this problem. Either bring in more money or spend less. Unfortunately, most people take the first option. That usually means that Mother works outside the home. Then comes the statement "I don't have time to be thrifty and frugal." But then we are ignoring the counsel to live providently. Elder McConkie said "Industry, thrift, and self-respect are essential to salvation."(ENSIGN May 1979, p.92) When we eliminate thrift and frugality from our lives we are also on the way to eliminating gratitude for material blessings. Rather than blessings, material possessions then become an expected part of our lives. Pres. Benson has included in his list of manifestations of pride "living beyond our means, envying, and coveting."(ENSIGN May 1989, p. 5) In Alma 37:6 it says "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." It also works the other way. By small and simple things we can be led away from the things of God. In 2 Nephi 28:21 we read "the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." "Carefully" would imply planning with attention to detail or small things. What better way to destroy the family from within than to have mother work in order to provide more income. Not only is mother absent from the crossroads that Pres. Benson has spoken of (To Mothers in Zion p. 8) but Satan accomplishes the following list of things over process of time:
1. He keeps Mother from
giving much effective church service.
Elder William R. Bradford said "We give our lives to that which we give our time." (ENSIGN May 1992, p. 28) If the sisters' time is spent working away from home to bring material comforts and advantages, does it not follow, then, that they are giving their lives to the things of this earth and not to the things of eternity? We generally agree in the church that the important things of our lives are our families and the gospel. Are we showing this through our actions and where we spend our time or are we letting Satan "carefully [lead us] down to hell?"
We usually have children in our homes 20 to 30 years or 1/3 to 1/4 of our lives. In counseling with a sister who is contemplating working or continuing to work, I would ask her to think "Are your children important enough for you to give most of your time to them during the years they are home. Can you justify, before God, your taking your children's mother away from them? They only ask for part of your life to give them the foundation to then go off on their own. Your decision will have eternal consequences."
Elder H. Burke Peterson said "Our Father in heaven would rather have you comfort the scratched arm of a little boy in patched trousers than have a baby-sitter or older sister or brother do the same because you are away working. He would rather have you read stories in the afternoon to a little girl in a faded blue hand-me-down dress than have her entertained by a color TV because you are away working to make the payments. He would rather have a child come home from school to a mother ironing clothes or baking cookies, than to come home to a hired housekeeper because mother is away learning typing or shorthand to improve her job qualifications.
Brothers and sisters, do without if you need to, but don't do without mother. Mother is more important in the home than money or the things money can buy. Our Father in Heaven wants you to be in your home to guide these spirits as no one else can, in spite of material sacrifices that may result. He created you to learn to be a good mother--an eternal mother. It is your first and foremost calling, no baby-sitter, no grandmother, no neighbor, no friend, no Relief Society sister, older brother or sister, or even a loving dad can take your place." (ENSIGN May 1974, p. 32-33)
A mother is more than a caretaker of physical needs. President David O. McKay declared: "Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.
"...Motherhood consists of three principal attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2) the ability to rear, (3) the gift to love....
"This ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come,... deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God." (Gospel Ideals, pp.452-54)
Elder David B. Haight has said, "The end of our Father's plan is for us to become gods and goddesses. He helps us toward that goal by giving us responsibilities in the limitations of time that enable us to do on a small scale that which he does on a immense scale in the eternities.
"Thus, when a mother honors and magnifies her calling, she is preparing for the eternities. She is not only preparing her children for their eternal destiny, but she is also preparing herself to become a queen and a priestess forever.
"As the First Presidency have declared: 'Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.' (Conference Report, October 1942, pp. 12-13)" (Woman, p. 19)
Thirty percent of the women in the Houston North Stake are working mothers. Only one third of those are single. That means that most of the working mothers of our stake are bringing home a second income. They are not the primary breadwinner of the family.
If the sisters of our stake will put their family's eternal welfare first, they will be blessed with peace, understanding of their choice, and the knowledge of how to provide physically for their families without leaving them to go to work.
As Relief Society leaders, we have a responsibility to the sisters and their families to teach frugality. If we were more frugal, fewer women would have to work; if women didn't work they would have more time to be frugal, to be available to their families and to serve others. An increase in income does not eliminate our responsibility to be frugal, either. Remember, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." This is applicable to both our spiritual and temporal lives.
In ward conferences, Pres. Page reminded us that we need to come to the Lord on the Lord's terms. We need to give the Lord the opportunity to bless us. We are not blessed for disobedience. In D&C 82:10 we read "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." D&C 1:38 reads "...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." D&C 78:7 says "For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you."
I challenge you to go back to your wards and teach provident living. Teach frugality so that mothers can come home to their families. Help them see what their eternal priorities should be.
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