Old pier at sunset with flying seagulls.

Selfless Service through Self-Reliance

Self-reliance gives us the freedom to follow Christ’s commandment to “lift up the hands that hang down” (Doctrine & Covenants 81:5).

“Let’s not be gullible gulls. Wemust preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.” In his 1982 general conference addressThe Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance,” President Marion G. Romney reminds us that self-reliance is a key detail in our ability to exercise our agency for the greater good. 

Girl holding change, note with "make a change"

Photo by Kat Yukawa

The true story of the “gullible gulls” is about a flock of seagulls that became reliant on local fishermen for their food and never taught their chicks to fish for themselves. When the fishermen left the area, the new generation of seagulls had no ability to feed themselves. 

As children of God, having financial, physical, and spiritual self-reliance grants us the freedom to further the cause of Zion by lifting others up. President Romney implores us to “use the freedom which comes from self-reliance in giving and serving, [for]how can we give if there is nothing there?”

With the freedom to give comes the responsibility to receive. We have the spiritual obligation to lift others up; in turn, we should accept help from others when we need it. No matter who we are, there will be times when we will need to accept help from strangers or loved ones. This giving and receiving of love and charity is an important part of God’s plan for us.

Read more about self-reliance and how it meshes our modern lives with our spiritual progression in “The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance” by President Marion G. Romney. 

Source: General Conference

—Lorin Hurley, Latter-Day Saints Insights


Find more insights 

Read Sister Silvia H. Allred’s general conference talk on “The Essence of Discipleship” for more of a dive into the spiritual natures of self-reliance and service.

To see personal testimonies on the value of self-reliance, watch “In the Lord’s Way” and join President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and President Henry B. Eyring in discussing charity and service in the modern day.

For help starting out on your own journey toward self-reliance, visit ChurchofJesusChrist.org and their course on becoming self-reliant.

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