Elder Sitati, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, taught that Self-Reliance and the Perpetual Education Fund are not just programs to help members in temporarily difficult circumstances only, but that the welfare plan of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is much more vast. It teaches all Church members to be responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being, using the labour of their own hands and inspiration from the Lord.
In a powerful statement, Elder Sitati counselled, “We should control our circumstances or we become victims of those situations; we either let other people or things control us or we control them. We are commanded to be fruitful. We have the ability to subdue our circumstances, with the Lord helping us and doing our very best. Self-reliance is self-help not entitlement. Everyone must work. We are to act not to be acted upon.”
He further explained that self-reliance has many degrees and defined it as 'the ability, commitment and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family'.
“Many members might think of welfare as a program to assist them during temporarily difficult circumstances. But the intent of the Church’s welfare plan is much more vast; it also involves promoting self-reliance as a way of life,” Elder Sitati said.
Members in attendance were reminded that a mere desire to become self-reliant is not enough, and that they must make a conscious, active effort to provide for their own needs and those of their families. Reference was made to President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said: “True doctrine understood changes behaviour.” When we understand the doctrine of self-reliance, then we can change our behaviour.
Saints were counselled that being self-reliant allows them to bless others: “The Saviour has commanded us to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and take care of the poor. As saints we should be in a position to assist and help, not vice versa. Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others. Living welfare principles is about putting our faith in Jesus Christ into action.”
Elder Sitati challenged everyone to do a self-examination and ask themselves; “What can I do so that in 10, 20, 30 years’ time I will be in a position where the Lord can use me to bless His people?”