Mormons strive to be self-reliant. They do whatever they can to prepare for emergencies, so they can take care of themselves in hard times. This takes several different forms.
One form of self-reliance preparation is education. Today, it’s very difficult to get a good job unless you have education, and good jobs make it easier to earn enough to save money and prepare for the future. Members of the church are encouraged to pursue education, both formally and informally, to increase their knowledge and skill base.
Self-reliance means to have as many skills as possible. Mormon church structure offers its members opportunities to develop many skills they might not otherwise have. For instance, the church does not have a paid clergy, and so the bishop-similar to a pastor but who works part-time without pay-doesn’t give the sermon each week. Instead, several members of the congregation, usually two teenagers and two adults, speak for ten to fifteen minutes each. Children speak in the Primary Children’s organization, as well, giving three minute talks, beginning at age three. The littlest children are helped by a parent. This teaches members public speaking before they’re old enough to be afraid of it.
Because it’s a lay church, members all have callings, or volunteer jobs, in the church. Assignments change often, giving members opportunities to learn leadership, teaching, and other skills that translate into employment skills when needed.
Members are encouraged to build a year’s supply of food in case of unemployment, illness, or other emergency. They have some supplies that are long-term and meant for basic survival, such as wheat, rice, beans, and oats. Then they store other items that they use regularly. These are rotated, so nothing is wasted. Members shop from their pantries and then are able to buy their food storage systematically. This cuts costs, since they can buy only those items that are on sale or in bulk. If the parents were ill and unable to shop, or if a weather emergency made it hard to get to a store, there would still be plenty of food and other supplies in the home. In the event of a financial crisis, members can avoid shopping altogether, allowing them to save much needed cash for housing and other essentials.
In addition, they prepare a seventy-two hour kit that can be taken with them if they need to move to shelter somewhere. This includes anything they need to survive during that time, including instant food, additional clothing and blankets, and medical supplies.
Finances are carefully monitored to provide the greatest safety. Members are taught to avoid debt and to live simply and not beyond their means. They learn to put money aside to get them through the difficult times. By following these teachings, members can survive even the most challenging of times. Of course, there are times when unemployment or illness lasts longer than a year, and when all other resources, personal and family, are exhausted, the church has programs to help its members through those times. But the first responsibility is always for us to help ourselves.