Oh the Paradox…

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The visiting teaching message for June was on exercising charity and serving those in need. I appreciate topics like this but it always brings to mind the irony of it. We are told to be charitable. To give and humbly receive. We are also counselled to be self-sufficient. So on one had we have folks telling us to accept help, and reach out to others and on the other, we’re told to suck it up and do it all on our own. It seems as though these two principles oppose one another. What are your thoughts?

34 thoughts on “Oh the Paradox…

  1. Nikki

    I know, it is a paradox. I think the key is an even balance between the two. How? Probably through inspiration from the Spirit?

  2. part of the problem also arises from when you humble yourself to ask for help and the help doesn’t come so you don’t ask again

  3. Yes, Sally unfortunately that happens too much. I remember when I was in Grade 12 and living in Penticton. My Dad had gone to Whitehorse to work (it was just the two of us) and we literally only had enough money for him to get there and make a rent payment before he left. I had gotten down to nothing but a jar of mustard in the fridge and knew I had to phone and ask for help from the church. I skipped the Bishop and went to the person I felt most comfortable talking too about the situation. She was a counsellor in the Relief Society. She kindly told me I had to contact someone else and the conversation ended.

    The thing is this phone call took every ounce of courage for me to make and I honestly didn’t have it in me to make another. I sat on my Dad’s bed and cryed my eyes out while I prayed for courage to keep on trying. A few minutes later, she called back, told me she would take care of everything…I am still so grateful to this woman and that she followed the spirit, it made a huge difference in my life.

  4. Well unfortunately this reverse also occurs much to frequently; people get assistance when they really don’t need it.

    This causes members to become jaded and to underestimate the need of legitimate applicants.

    This would be the other side of the coin not being diligently followed.

    The moment church assistance is taken for granted by the recipient, they are no longer being humble IMNSHO – and thus should be cut off or have their assistance scaled back.

    The other problem is that the church sets up bureaucratic boundaries that separate the people receiving assistance from the tithe payers who make the assistance possible.

    If the goods were hand delivered by the cheque-to-cheque-living tithe payers – the ones who are all but on assistance themselves, but who continue to pay tithing anyway – I think you might see some changes in both who gets assistance and who does not.

  5. It is discouraging. Different wards handle it in different ways. I know of people in certain “poorer” wards asking for help and being put through the paces (must prove to the Bishop they had gone to immediate family before he would consent) to our last ward where if you looked slightly gaunt on Sunday you’d get a food order…it’s very much up to the Bishop and his available resources.

  6. You are discussing two different topics concerning Church Welfare.

    Food – If the food is not used at the Bishop’s Store House each week, it is given to food banks in the area. It is a real shame when a Bishop does not provide for those in need thinking he is watching over the Lord’s assets. There are families that leave the church because when they humbled themselves and asked for help, they were denied. Many end up at a food bank and receive the same cans of food they would have received at the BSH. I wonder what the Lord thinks about the savings?

    Money – While the Bishop should try and keep the needs of his ward within the amount his ward pays in fast offerings, a Bishops check (cheque) will not bounce. FO from around the world are used to help those in need. More money is collected than used. Once again it is a shame to allow those in need to suffer in the name of protecting the Lord’s assets. The Lord wants to use his assets to help his children not grow a bank account.

    There are those who try and take advantage and shame on them. I would prefer to feed and clothe a 100 people who do not need it just to make sure the one who does is taken care of. Kind of like the song about the 101 sheep.

    Food again – The food at the BSH is the same thing week after week after week. How many weeks would your children eat the same brand of generic cold ceral?

    How many times would you eat the same meal week after week? How many times would you call the RS Pres and ask for a food list? How many times would you have someone watch you to make sure you do not put too many cans of bans in your basket?

    Food orders are for two weeks at a time. Is your fridge large enough to hold two weeks of milk for your family? How about two weeks of bread? Two weeks of everything you eat? What if you have a small fridge?

    If someone will put themselves thru the truma of using the BSH, then they usually need the food.

    Many Bishops do not understand the Lords plan to help his Saints in their time of need and do more harm than good because they do not understand the plan and how it works.

    Members who do not understand how it works are also a problem because the give false information to those in need.

  7. I was in a welfare meeting when a Bishop shared an experience he had with giving out assistance.

    He shared many of the same feelings that have been expressed here about people that abuse the system. He decided to do something about it.

    He counseled with the receiver and together they came up with a “Budget” for their family. Then they attached “real world” prices to the list of goods available at the store house. The person was then to “Spend” their budget and get what they needed off the list.

    This bish was pretty proud of how he was handling the situations.

    The regional authority in attendance at the meeting then said the following:

    “In our last welfare meeting with Pres. Monson, he went into detail, explaining how when he was a bishop, he thought he did all he could to help those in need, by paying rent, supplying food, and arranging for other welfare needs to be done. At the time, he thought he was being very generous.

    “President Monson then said he had one regret about how he ministered as a bishop, and that was that he was not generous enough.”

    This regional authority then said that the welfare system isn’t there for just the righteous to use. It’s not there for just the perfect, sinless members of the church to use. It is there to be used, and the church has more than enough welfare resources to not only supply the needs of the church members, no matter what their standing is, but that it can also support the communities needs as well.

    After this, I looked at the bishop who had the whole budget thing worked out, and it’s probably just me, but he sure looked like he felt like an a$$.

  8. “the church has more than enough welfare resources to not only supply the needs of the church members”

    So why does it seem like pulling teeth to spend more fast offering than a ward pulls in?

  9. Kim Siever said: “the church has more than enough welfare resources to not only supply the needs of the church members”

    So why does it seem like pulling teeth to spend more fast offering than a ward pulls in?

    Bill says – Ask your Bishop!

  10. I know a family (7 children) where one of the children was arested and the mother had a break down over it and was hospitalized for several months and she lost her income over it. The husband could not feed the family on his income and he went to the Bishop for food and was turned down because the family had cable tv. You do not receive good tv signals where they live and cable is necessary in order to use a tv. Just a side note about the cable.

    Do you think the Bishop did the right thing? Should the family lose all they have before they can get food assitance?

    Do you think the family stayed active or do you think they accepted help from a Christian Church around the corner? If your children were hungry and you could not feed them and your Bishop turned you down, would you accept help from a local Christian Chuch?

  11. That same question was brought up in this welfare meeting. The regional welfare rep stated that when expenditures exceed contributions, the only procedure in place is for the Stake President to meet with the Bishop to ensure that the bishop is teaching the correct self reliance principles to the members and that the members understand the principles. Nowhere does it state that anyone should be “Cut Off”.

    The handbook, book one states for Stake Presidents:

    “Fast-Offering Expenditures That Exceed Contributions. When fast-offering expenditures will exceed contributions in a ward, the bishop and stake president counsel together to make sure that the bishop and ward members correctly understand and apply principles of self-reliance and providing for the poor and needy. Procedures for obtaining additional fast offerings from the Church are outlined in instructions sent to stake and ward financial clerks. “

    The following is the section for the Bishops. As they are called to be a common judge, they do indeed need to make judgement calls, although it has been my observation that they usually err on the wrong side of caution. Mostly because so many of them are “program based” leaders and not “principle based” leaders, so they don’t know how to effectively teach their wards the proper welfare principles, while helping take care of needs.

    Anyway, here is the section for your reference:

    “Administer the Church Welfare Program

    The office of bishop carries with it a special mandate to care for the poor and needy (see D&C 84:112; 107:68). The bishop is assisted by Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders, as well as home teachers and visiting teachers.

    Seek Out the Needy

    The bishop should know the temporal circumstances of ward members and ensure that needy members receive proper care. It is not enough to respond only when asked for help. To serve effectively, the bishop should seek out the poor, the needy, the single parent, the aged, the disabled, the fatherless, the widowed, and others who have special needs.

    There are many ways for the bishop to identify needy ward members. One way is through promptings of the Spirit. The bishop should listen for the Spirit to prompt him to inquire about members well-being and to reveal undisclosed needs.

    The bishop may also identify welfare needs during meetings of the ward priesthood executive committee, ward council, and ward welfare committee. Interviews with the elders quorum president, high priests group leader, and Relief Society president also help him identify welfare needs.

    Home teachers and visiting teachers can also help identify welfare needs. they should inquire about the well-being of those whom they visit. When possible, they help meet these members’ needs. They also report these needs to their priesthood or Relief Society leader, who reports them to the bishop.

    Determine What Assistance to Render

    Through the Church, the Lord has established a way to care for the poor and needy and help them regain their self-reliance. When Church members are doing all they can to provide for themselves but still cannot meet their basic needs, they first should turn to their families for help. When this is not sufficient, the Church stands ready to help.

    To determine what welfare assistance to render, the bishop considers the causes of members’ needs. He also evaluates what members have done and may do to provide for themselves and their families. If he feels that assistance is justified, he completes a Needs and Resources Analysis form. He then determines how much assistance to provide as Church welfare and when and how to provide it. Individual circumstances vary, so the bishop should seek guidance from the Lord for each situation.

    When appropriate and without breaking confidences, the bishop may include the Relief Society president in determining what assistance to provide. He may assign her to visit members to assess their needs and suggest how to respond to them. This may include preparing an itemized fist of basic food and clothing needs. It also may include preparing a Bishop’s Order for Commodities form for the bishop to review. The bishop’s signature on this form authorizes service at a bishops’ storehouse or purchases from a local vendor. The Relief Society president’s role in making family needs visits is explained more fully on pages 208-9 in Book 2.

    Render Assistance

    The bishop is entrusted with the sacred responsibility of using Church funds and commodities to care for the poor and needy members of the ward. He provides welfare assistance to accomplish the following objectives:

    1. Help members become self-reliant and stand independent of all welfare assistance, regardless of its source.
    2. Help members become stronger spiritually and learn to provide for others.
    3. Build integrity, self-respect, dignity, and soundness of character in each person who receives help.

    Page 14
    The following guidelines will help the bishop provide appropriate welfare “assistance.

    Draw upon the Lord’s Storehouse. The Lord’s storehouse includes the time, talents, skills, compassion, consecrated materials, and financial resources of faithful Church members. The bishop is the Lord’s agent in using these resources to assist the poor and needy (see D&C 42:34). As he uses these resources to care for the needy in the Lord’s way, both givers and receivers are blessed (see D&C 104:16; Acts 20:35).

    1. Fast offerings. Fast offerings are a primary resource of the Lord’s storehouse. The bishop uses fast offerings to provide necessities to needy members. With these funds the bishop may provide food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance, or other life-sustaining aid.

      It is preferred that the bishop give members commodities rather than cash. If necessary, he may buy the goods with fast offerings. Members then can use their own cash to pay their obligations. If members do not have cash to pay all of their immediate and essential obligations, the bishop normally makes payments directly to the provider of the goods or services.

      In some circumstances the bishop may give cash directly to reliable, faithful members who are being assisted. They can use the cash to pay their obligations or make necessary purchases.

      The bishop may not loan fast offerings to members, and members are not required to repay welfare assistance that they receive from the Church. When members are again in a position to do so, they should be encouraged to contribute generously to the fast-offering fund.

      The bishop may not use fast offerings to pay off members’ consumer debt or obligations incurred in business failures or speculative ventures.

      For information about the law of the fast, see page 16. For information about gathering and accounting for fast offerings, see pages 134-35.

    2. Other ward resources. In caring for the needy, the bishop also directs the use of ward resources other than fast offerings, including the time, talents, skills, compassion, and consecrated materials of ward members. He does this by directing the efforts of the ward welfare committee; by counseling, as appropriate, with quorum and Relief Society leaders; by asking families, home teachers, and visiting teachers to serve the needy in specific ways; and by using resources made available by the stake welfare committee.
    3. Other Church welfare resources. in some parts of the world, the Church has established welfare operations. These include Church employment offices, Deseret Industries stores, storehouses, canneries, grain storage facilities, and a variety of commodity production projects. The Church also contracts with LDS Social Services to provide counseling, foster care, assistance to unwed parents, and adoption services to members.

      Where these welfare operations and contracted services exist, they provide resources that bishops can use to help the poor and needy. If a bishop needs information about such resources in his area, he should contact the chairman of the stake bishops’ welfare council or his stake president.

    Give Temporary Help. Church assistance is normally given to meet temporary needs as members strive to become self-reliant. It is intended to help people help themselves and develop independence, not dependence. Even the disabled, aged, and others who may require long-term assistance should be given opportunities to do all they can to help themselves.
    Assist with Necessities. The Church helps needy members by providing the goods and services they need to sustain life. The Church does not provide the means to maintain an affluent standard of living. Members who are temporarily unable to provide for themselves may need to alter their standard of living until they are self-reliant. They should not rely on Church welfare to insure them against temporary hardship or to allow them to continue their present standard of living without interruption.

    Use Appropriate Resources in the Community. Members may use appropriate services in the community to meet their basic needs. These services may include hospitals, physicians, and other sources of medical care; job training and placement services; services for disabled persons; professional counselors or social workers; domestic violence centers; and alcohol or drug treatment services. The bishop should become familiar with the resources that are available in the community and teach members to maintain gospel standards while using such services.

    When deciding what welfare assistance to give, the bishop determines whether members are receiving assistance from government or other sources. Bishops should be careful not to duplicate welfare assistance.

    Help Needy Members Obtain Health Care. The bishop may arrange and pay for health care for needy ward members. In deciding whether the Church should

    Page 15

    pay for health care, he determines whether the car( is necessary based on sound medical advice (se( “Medical and Health Practices” and “Self-Awareness Groups” on pages 156-57 for two restrictions on using fast-offering funds). He also determines whether family members are able and willing to assist. He also determines whether the member is fully using insurance, government, or other available benefits.

    If the bishop feels that the Church should assist the needy member, he asks the health care providers if they will reduce their fees. He ensures that the Church promptly pays the medical expenses it has agreed to pay.

    If a member’s medical expenses that will be paid by the Church are likely to exceed $1,000, the bishop should follow the instructions on page 7.

    Give Work Assignments to Members Who Receive Assistance

    Work is a spiritual and temporal necessity. When members receive Church welfare assistance, the bishop gives them opportunities to work to the extent of their ability for the assistance they receive. When they work for assistance, they remain industrious, maintain self-respect, and increase their ability to be self-reliant.

    The bishop strives to give work assignments that are meaningful. Ideally, needy members are given assignments that allow them to serve others. The bishop ensures that members are given the instruction they need to fulfill their assignments.

    When giving a work assignment, the bishop asks the members to commit themselves to fulfilling it. if they are reluctant or refuse to work, he should help them understand that work assignments are given to bless them.

    There are many creative ways to provide work opportunities. Bishops may include the ward welfare committee in compiling a list of such opportunities. Where local Church welfare operations exist, they may provide work opportunities and training for people who need Church assistance.

    Administer Fast Offerings

    Encourage Members to Live the Law of the Fast. The bishopric encourages ward members to fast each fast Sunday for two consecutive meals and to contribute a fast offering at least equal to the value of the food they would have eaten. If possible, members should give much more than the value of two meals. The bishopric teaches members that fasting and contributing fast offerings will bless their lives and the lives of the needy. These principles should be taught in priesthood quorum meetings, Relief Society and other auxiliary meetings, home visits, and sacrament meetings. The bishop teaches, these principles in temple recommend interviews and tithing settlement interviews.

    Oversee the gathering and Accounting of Fast Offerings. See pages 134-35.

    Use Fast Offerings to Render Assistance. See page 15.

    Consult with the Stake President in Special Circumstances ”

  12. That’s what I don’t understand, JM. On the one hand, the visiting authority said the Church has more than enough to spare, but when a ward spends more than it brings in, the bishop is taken to task (or so has been my observations). Perhaps more stake presidents need training on what it means to “ensure that the bishop is teaching the correct self reliance principles “.

  13. And, a bishop also needs to know how to, and have the fortitude to stand up to a stake president.

    The one thing that constantly bothered me when I was an EQ president was having the bishop and stake president trying to run my quorum. I held the keys, they did not. They could counsel me, but in the end, I had to make the decision. They never seemed to grasp the concept.

    I’m sure that there are SP’s who feel the need to micro-manage all the wards in their stakes as well, just as there are probably a bunch of “Yes-men” bishops out there as well.

  14. Two things came to mind while I was reading the booklet of information. In the Stake I current attend, the Bishops are not allowed to help a person if they lost their income due to a business failure. In other words, if your business goes down the tubes, then do not come to the Church for food or assitance. Sink or swim. This stake wants you to work for someone else.

    A Bishop cannot have the fortitude to stand up to a SP. If he does, he will be released. I watched a man who was made a Bishop and realized what he could do to help people get cut down by the SP. The SP was not happy with the help the Bishop was giving people so he had his 2 counselors sign a letter the SP drafted and sent to SLC and the Bishop was released early (before his 5 years). For a Bishop to be released early without a major sin being involved, the SP and councilors have to send SLC a lettter stating why they want the man removed.

    If you are the EP and the Bishop wants you removed, you are gone. Even faster if the SP wants you released.

  15. I don’t want to throw fuel on the fire, but it seems like some of us are getting a bit far off the mark. I don’t comment here to throw stones at anyone, but simply to share some thoughts that hopefully can be of help to someone, myself included.

    First, getting back to the original post: I don’t think there’s any irony. We should all try to be self-reliant, and we should all try to help those in need. In fact, part of helping those in need is helping them become self-reliant, often via temporary help with immediate needs “to sustain life” (not “to sustain life style” – thus the thing about the cable TV) and in particular, education as appropriate, to get the person to a self-reliant position and stay there, and be able to help others in need.

    Second, just because the Bishop/Ward/whoever didn’t help in the way you expected or wanted doesn’t mean they aren’t helping (or at least trying to help). It isn’t uncommon for people to be unwilling to help themselves. Going back to the cable TV example: if you’re unable to meet your needs (food, housing, health care, etc.) then we need to be willing to eliminate the “wants” to pay for the needs. Yes, it may mean they can’t watch TV. Is watching TV more important than eating, and having a warm bed to sleep in? If someone refuses to make the changes necessary to become as self-reliant as possible, then any handouts they get from the Bishop won’t really solve their problem, and could likely lead to a long-term welfare dependence that is completely avoidable.

    As Nikki brings up, if you can’t talk to the Bishop, talk to someone. Ultimately all expenditures of fast offering funds or food orders will be approved by the Bishop, so it can’t really happen without him finding out about it and doing his job.

    Rick, the boundaries you mention are to protect the confidentiality and dignity of those who are receiving assistance. They are there for a very good reason. If it was public knowledge exactly who was helped and how much, most people who needed it probably would be too ashamed to accept any help, and that would prevent the program from serving its purposes.

    One reason why Bishops are charged with safeguarding the resources is to prevent fraud, as there are many who take advantage. Another reason is that if the resources aren’t protected to some degree, they won’t be available when someone really has a need. A third reason is that the goal isn’t just to meet needs – it is to get people to a position where they can be self-reliant, and that is something the Bishop needs to do as he is dispensing assistance.

    Regarding spending more than you bring in: often this is an indicator of a lack of faith in the law of fast offerings on the part of the members in the area. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, it is a guideline that the Bishop and Stake President use together in their discussions, and they follow the Spirit to determine what is right and proper. Often a Bishop who is very generous establishes a group of long-term welfare-dependent people, rather than being generous in the short term and educating people so they can achieve self-reliance. This guideline can help address that problem.

    JM, the bishop in your story shouldn’t feel too bad about the way he was doing things. So long as he was giving a budget suited to their needs, it sounds like he was doing a great job of teaching the family how to live within their means. By letting them practice their skills he probably helped them get better at managing their own resources.

    JM, having the “fortitude” to “stand up to” a stake president isn’t necessarily a good quality in a Bishop. First, they’re on the same team, trying to accomplish the same goals, and both trying to follow the Spirit and the instructions they have received. Second, every member, the Bishop included, should be supportive of their leaders, at any level. It doesn’t mean that Stake Presidents and Bishops won’t make mistakes; our position is not to judge them, but support them. Sometimes they have a lot to learn too. Since we know they were put there by the Lord, we need to have faith that the Lord will help them work out any shortcomings they may have.

    JM, regarding your service as Elder’s Quorum President: it is the Bishop’s and Stake President’s duty to counsel with and advise an EQP. Micro-managing is going a little far, but there still must be reasons why they’re suggesting the things they are. Where do you think the EQP’s keys come from? They’re delegated to him by the Stake President, the president of the Melchezidek Priesthood in the stake, whose keys are delegated to him in turn from the Prophet and President of the Church, whose keys are from the Lord himself. If you as an EQP aren’t humble enough to support your leaders and work within the guidelines and instruction they give you, what kind of example are you setting for your quorum? Do you think that might be walking the fine line that keeps you from apostasy?

    A bishop who heeds the counsel of his Stake President isn’t a “yes-man”. If he is, then the church is full of them, from the Prophet right on down the chain. And it should be. We’re all trying to follow the counsel (and commandments) of the Savior, and it’s a bad sign when we refuse to do that. It takes faith to follow the commandments and guidelines and counsel you’re given by your leaders or the Spirit, especially in cases where we don’t understand the “why” behind what we’ve been asked to do. But that’s exactly the covenant we’ve made, and it’s those faith trying experiences that help us build our faith.

    Bill: The rule about a business failure, as quoted above, says they shouldn’t pay off consumer debt (credit cards and other consumer loans) nor “obligations incurred in business failures or speculative ventures.” It doesn’t say he can’t help you if that was the cause of your problems. It says he can’t pay off the loan on your business that failed or your real-estate speculation that went south. If either of those is the case, he can help sustain life, but you’re going to be saddled with the consequences of your debt for a long time. He can help you try to be self reliant while you pay off those debts, though.

    Regarding “This stake wants you to work for someone else”: If you’re in a position where you don’t have enough income to meet your own needs, the most sensible path to self-reliance is by getting a job, isn’t it? It is at least the quickest and most reliable I’d say. Starting your own business, while a great goal to have, isn’t a predictable source of income in the early stages, and in the early stages often requires far more money to be put into it than you’ll get out of it. The unpredictable nature of small, new businesses leads to crazy fluctuations in income that wouldn’t be wise to take on if your financial situation is hanging by a thread.

    If a Bishop is rebelling against the Church, then shouldn’t he be released? It isn’t just the SP that makes that decision – as you said, the letter goes to Church Headquarters to be evaluated. Since the First Presidency approves every new Bishop that gets called, I’d assume they’re the same ones involved in an abnormal release. Similar things go for the EQP: if he’s not working with his leaders, and instead is working against them, then he’s not doing much good to his quorum, and the Stake President (and partly the Bishop, who is likely closer to the situation) have a responsability to do something about the situation.

    Again, I don’t want to just inflame things, and I just realized how old this post is, but hopefully someone who stumbles upon this later won’t get too many wrong impressions, like I did when I first read through all this.

    Humbly yours,

  16. “If it was public knowledge exactly who was helped and how much, most people who needed it probably would be too ashamed to accept any help, and that would prevent the program from serving its purposes.”

    These people who would be “too ashamed to accept any help” should realise that it SHOULD be embarrassing to need assistance.

    If the information were, be design, public it would level the playing field; do you *really* think that the people on assistance are unknown in the ward?

    The easiest way to become complacent and reliant on assistance is to allow the assisted to do so anonymously.

    Any adult who would is embarrassed should be working on removing that source of embarrassment, and vigourously.

    The first step to solving your problems is admitting you have a problem.

  17. If they don’t feel bad enough about needing help, the Bishop can take care of that best in a private and confidential way. Public humiliation isn’t a part of the welfare program.

    In our ward, I’ve been surprised repeatedly by families who are not in a good situation at all, but don’t need any help, just as well as by people who I had no idea they were even in a bad situation. I’ll grant you that some of it is known, sometimes because it is obvious, and sometimes because they are willing to talk about it. It should never be because someone in the church who knew about it started spreading it around.

    The only person in the ward in a position to judge these people is the Bishop. It is his calling and duty. Anyone else in the ward who wants to judge people probably needs to make some changes in their life.

    The Bishop is fully capable of making sure that anyone in need of assistance realizes that it is something that ought to change, and that it is their responsability to make every effort to meet their own needs. The Bishop can set up a plan with them to achieve self-suffiency within a reasonable time frame. And if they aren’t making progress toward self sufficiency, the Bishop can be the judge of when the temporary assistance is causing them even more damage by creating a harmful dependence.

  18. “It should never be because someone in the church who knew about it started spreading it around.”

    “Anyone else in the ward who wants to judge people probably needs to make some changes in their life.”

    How do you reconcile using both of these statements in the same argument?

    If people aren’t supposed to be judgmental then it won’t hurt anyone by posting who is currently on church assistance.

    It’s either one way or the other.

    “Spreading it around” isn’t going to hurt anyone if the membership is genuinely trying to help everyone … as if it doesn’t get spread around in wost wards anyway already.

  19. Rick, we’re not supposed to be judgemental. But you know as well as I that the fact of the matter is sometimes people are judgemental. Some of the comments on this very page could be considered as evidence of that.

    The people who know about welfare matters are trusted individuals in whom the Bishop has confidence. They are people who he trusts to keep these confidential matters private. He frequently reminds them of their duty to maintain confidentiality.

    “Spreading it around” and embarrasing or humiliating people in need of assistance is not the way our church leaders have asked us to ensure the welfare of our fellow men. I highly doubt it is the way Christ did it or would do it or would want us to do it. Just because you feel like it gets spread around in your ward doesn’t mean you can or should generalize that to most wards. Spreading gossip and rumors, especially about confidential matters is a very dangerous thing to the spiritual well-being of both the spreader, the hearer, and the ones whom the gossip and rumors disparage.

    Why should anyone else want or need to know who is getting assistance? How does that help anything? All I can see in it is hurt feelings and negativity, embarrassment and humiliation, any of which can prevent the welfare program from accomplishing its goal of bringing souls to Christ.

  20. I recall a verse from the Bible about teaching a man to fish…

    Perhaps everyone just needs to know who requires a lesson or two…

    If the recipients of this aid are embarrassed or humiliated, perhaps they should work on removing the necessity of such assistance.

  21. You’re right of course Kim.

    Once again I’ve mistaken a common proverb for an actual proverb…
    my bad.

  22. Rick, to use your proverb, one goal of the welfare program is to teach people to fish rather than just give them fish daily.

    “Perhaps everyone just needs to know who requires a lesson or two… If the recipients of this aid are embarrassed or humiliated, perhaps they should work on removing the necessity of such assistance.”

    Why should everyone know who needs fishing lessons? It’s not their job, nor their business, to teach them. It is the Bishop’s responsability, and they have the privilege, as with any matter, to deal with the Bishop confidentially regarding their situation.

    The best ways to get people to become self-reliant don’t involve shame, humiliation, embarrassment, guilt, or any other kind of negativity. I don’t know why you want to insist that they should be used in the Welfare program, since they’re not used anywhere else in the Church.

    Put yourself in their shoes… would you lke everyone knowing that you can’t feed your family? What if it wasn’t welfare, but something else? How about everyone finds out that you don’t do your home teaching? Or that you flunked out of Sunday School? Maybe we should start broadcasting your sins to everyone in the neighborhood? Maybe a few rumors about Word of Wisdom problems, dishonesty in your business dealings, and refusal to pay tithing will do the trick? How about gossip about a pornography addiction and repeated adultery?

    I hope you can see where I’m going with this. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a few miles. Guilt, shame, and public humilation aren’t feelings that come from the Spirit. They are not proper motivational techniques.

    This will likely be my last post on this page, as I feel like I’ve made my point clear, whether you refuse to agree with it or not. I hope others reading this will understand that not everyone agrees with your opinions on the matter.

  23. “The best ways to get people to become self-reliant don’t involve shame … I don’t know why you want to insist that they should be used lin the Welfare program, since they’re not used anywhere else in the Church.”

    I’m sorry, did you just say that shame ISN’T used in the church?


    Just to clarify, which church are talking about?

    If we are both still taking about the LDS faith, then you have characterized in your long laundry list, actions which occur daily in many wards across several countries; which I do not believe pertain to the argument at all. (Although I’m sure they occur all too frequently already.)

    I would propose that emabarassment and shame go a long way towards motivating people to change their behaviours. Many churchs have proven for me, that shame and guilt can be effective methods of coercion.

    Regarding the terrible use of my fishing metaphor; it is very possible that one of the other members of the ward could, if they knew the family was in trouble, arrange for employment of the individual family members, or offer a low-rent suite, or any other number of possibilities which would improve the recipients standard of living and allow for a leg-up overall.

  24. If I said “isn’t” I meant “shouldn’t”. Clear direction from church leaders instructs us that we should never use those methods to motivate people. I don’t think they are compatible with Christlike behavior.

    Yes, they can motivate, but like you said, it practically amounts to coercion. There are much better ways to motivate people. The difference between being motivated by guilt/shame and being motivated by the Spirit is similar I think to the difference between being moved to repentance by “sorrow you got caught” rather than by “sorrow you did wrong.”

    You bring up a great point about other people being able to help. The Bishop involves the Welfare Committee/Council (I forget which is the official name) and other trusted resources as appropriate, and usually with the consent of the family receiving aid. It really is a team effort, when the system is operating correctly. But it is at the Bishop’s discretion if, when, who, and how, other people are involved in the circle of confidence.

  25. “But it is at the Bishop’s discretion if, when, who, and how, other people are involved in the circle of confidence.”

    And therein lies the root of the problem…

    When you say,”There are much better ways to motivate people.” you imply that the other ways are ‘better’ because they are somehow more noble of moral. The fact of the matter is that there are very few ways of influencing behaviour that are more practical than those I mentioned.

    When you use the words “motivated by the Spirit” I don’t understand you. Is there another way you can categorize this behaviour?

  26. The motivational methods have nothing to do with the people the Bishop involves to help them. Those people are asked to keep the confidence with which they’ve been trusted, and to help the people the best they can in a spirit of love. They are not to shame, embarrass, humiliate, or even condescend to the people they are helping. That in fact would severely hamper their ability to help them, because they’d lose the trust of those they were trying to help.

    The negative reinforcement methods you preach may be practical in some ways, but they are not uplifting in any kind of spiritual way. And as you ask, I will further describe more powerful motivational tools that are uplifting.

    When someone is “motivated by the Spirit”, the motivation comes from a feeling inside, in a positive way, through the influence of the Holy Ghost. They feel motivated to do good, for good reasons, and feel the love of our Heavenly Father and those that are trying to help them. They are always left with their agency, and never coerced. Coercion is not God’s way of getting things done, that was the “other plan”, remember? The person being motivated is free to choose to follow the prompting or not, just like the Bishop is free to judge if and how he can use the resources available to him to help the person. If they choose not to be motivated to make positive changes in their life, then the Bishop can’t accomplish his goal of helping them become self-sufficient until they have a change of heart, and at his discretion, he may or may not continue giving them food or financial assistance.

    The principle of being motivated by the Spirit can best be described by Doctrine and Covenants 121:33-46. The Bishop, like everyone else, should work with people by the principles outlined here.


    We are instructed not “to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men”. (v.37)

    “(39) We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

    “(41) No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

    (42) By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

    (43) Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

    (44) That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

    (45) Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly;”

    That right there is the short version of the Priesthood Handbook, or The Good Ways to Motivate People. The welfare system (any system) doesn’t work well if people are forced into things. It works best when you help people want to do it.

    Really this shouldn’t be a principle that is mysterious or unknown to members of the Church. It is (or should be) used throughout everything that gets done in the Church, at every level, from Church-wide to Stakes to Wards to Quorums, Organizations, Classes, and the Family itself. It embodies the principles of Christlike living in my opinion. It’s a more verbose way of teaching the principle of Charity.

  27. Anonymous said: “How about everyone finds out that you don’t do your home teaching? Or that you flunked out of Sunday School? Maybe we should start broadcasting your sins to everyone in the neighborhood? Maybe a few rumors about Word of Wisdom problems, dishonesty in your business dealings, and refusal to pay tithing will do the trick? How about gossip about a pornography addiction and repeated adultery?”

    Sounds like HP material.

  28. Nikki Workman said: “Public humiliation isn’t a part of the welfare program.”

    SO true!

    So true it is or is not?

    Humiliation is having to go to the Bishop Store House on certain day and your ward or ex-ward is on duty that day.

    Humiliation is having a person follow you around the Store House making sure you only get what is on the order form.

    Humiliation is having the person following you around (helping is the term) and asking personal questions about your situtation and telling you why you should not be there. I know it is not correct but it happens all to often.

    Humiliation is having to bear all your financial information in order to feed your children.

    Humiliation is telling your children all you have to feed them is the same crappy cold cereal week after week because that is all the Bishops Store House will stock.

    Humiliation is the way Church Leaders treat you after you work your way off Church Welfare.

    Bishop Store House Missionaries are the nicest and most caring people. How interesting that those who serve the poor care the most for them.

  29. George: I agree completely that the person “helping” you at the Storehouse shouldn’t pry into your situation. It is a very unfortunate coincidence that you run into someone you know at the storehouse, hopefully that’s rare. Regarding the items on the order, it’s either have someone check it as you go, or have someone check it at the end and have to put stuff back that doesn’t belong, which wastes even more time. That’s a policy that’s up to them, and I don’t know enough about it to have much of an opinion.

    Regarding “Humiliation is having to bear all your financial information in order to feed your children”: It isn’t intended to humiliate, but it is a necessary thing and may have that side-effect. I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for financial information when someone is asking for help due to financial hardship. Documenting that hardship helps insure that the system isn’t abused, and it is a common (and appropriate) practice at many places to get help when you’re in need, including many government, religious, or other charitable organizations. If I’m telling the Church I need money, I should be willing to show them why, and be willing to agree to make reasonable changes to help prevent that necessity in the future.

    Regarding the selection of cereal at the storehouse: did anyone ever tell you that beggars can’t be choosers? The storehouse stocks things that are designed to efficiently sustain life. And they have a much better selection than you imply. In terms of quality, from what I’ve seen, everything they offer is at least as good as the generic or store brand items I get at the supermarket.

    If your Church leaders treat you in a way that makes you feel humiliated, at any time before, during, or after a Welfare need, then either they’re doing something wrong (possibly an innocent mistake, or misdirected action) or you’re overly sensitive. I’ve seen both kinds of situations.

  30. Nikki Workman said: “Public humiliation isn’t a part of the welfare program.”

    I was responding to her statement because being humiliated is part and parcel of accepting LDS charity.

    You can try and put some kind of feel good sayings to it, but if you accept LDS charity, you will be humiliated.

    I doubt Christian Food Banks treat people as badly as LDS “Welfare” does.

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