Elder Clayton on the economy

I was fortunate enough to be in Honolulu on Jan. 17 and hear Elder Clayton, a member of the Seventy, talk at a special stake conference.  His primary subject was on remaining faithful during difficult economic times.  Given that the First Presidency’s message in January was a similar theme, it seems appropriate to discuss it here.

Elder Clayton’s primary point seemed to be:  be loyal to the church, pay your tithing, do your calling and home/visiting teaching, hold Family Home Evening, scripture study and family prayer, and things will turn out OK.

Here is how Elder Clayton illustrated this point.  He told a story about meeting with a group of stake presidents in South America during a tough economic downturn there.  The stake presidents said their primary concern was members suffering from a tough economy.  Elder Clayton felt prompted to ask the stake presidents:  how many of the people who are suffering pay tithing and fast offerings; do home and visiting teaching; have family home evening and family scripture study; and have personal and family prayers.

The answer from the assembled stake presidents is that they could not think of even one family who did these things who had economic problems they could not handle.

Now, the first thought I had when I heard this was:  I know families who are doing all these things who are still going through very tough economic times.  I can think of a few in the Bloggernacle who are.  But Elder Clayton’s point is not that if you are loyal you will not have tough times.  His point is that if you are loyal you will not have tough times you cannot handle.

I think the Lord still tests people in various ways, and sometimes those tests are economic.  I can tell you that our family has suffered economic hardship in the last few years but we have found a way to muddle through.

So, as a reminder, here are Elder Clayton’s suggestions:

  1. Pay tithing and fast offerings.
  2. Do home teaching and visiting teaching.
  3. Hold family home evening and family scripture study.
  4. Have personal and family prayers.

His feeling is that if you do these things you will not have economic problems you cannot handle.

Elder Clayton also made another interesting point:  even though members are suffering, fast offerings are actually up church-wide.  I found that very surprising.

It seems that yet again we are being tested.  Can we remain loyal to the Church and do what the prophets ask of us despite the current economic difficulties?  Can we find a way to send money to Haiti and continue offering tithing and fast offerings?  Can we find a way to do more to help the poor and the needy?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

11 thoughts on “Elder Clayton on the economy

  1. I’m waiting for your transcript to go viral and show up in my inbox. With a few breathless additions warning about the end times and getting in your food storage. 😉

  2. “…even though members are suffering, fast offerings are actually up church-wide”

    I was surprised by this also. This is true for my ward also. I attribute it to people seeing their neighbors/family suffer real financial loss.

    “few breathless additions warning about the end times and getting in your food storage”

    We would hope they have the good sense to at least use the current directive of the 3 months supply.

  3. Elder Clayton’s advice is good common sense, but the qualifier “you will not have economic problems you cannot handle” is arbitrary; depending on the individual’s life experiences. Often we do not know how well we have done until we are out of the dark tunnel. While in the dark tunnel, it is impossible to see the bright light that will surely come. If we just keep moving forward, our situations usually improve.

  4. It’s interesting that home teaching was specifically mentioned.

    I happen to abhor home teaching, and I’m thrilled that whoever my home teachers happen to be are too lazy to come over. I’ve only had one home teacher my whole life who actually cared about the family and would have eagerly helped us out had we ever needed it. The rest never wanted to be there and only stopped by to avaoid being pestered by the EQ president. Not something worth cleaning up and getting the kids ready for on a hectic Sunday afternoon.

    That said, we are actively engaged in everything on this list, the sticky point being that while I do my home teaching, I hate it, and I do it as begrudgingly as humanly possible.

    Maybe it’s time for an attitude shift.

  5. Tossman, I don’t think most people go out home teaching every month humming a merry tune about how wonderful it is. Sometimes it can be nice and you can actually help people — sometimes it feels like you are just allowing your leadership to be able to boost their stats. Currently, I home teach three families who are all pretty active. In the past, I have home taught mostly inactive families. I feel like I really helped the inactive families — in many cases, I was there to provide blessings that could not be provided because there was no priesthood in the home. I baptized one guy I home taught. And I helped reactivate another guy who was extremely appreciative of the fact that I kept on calling him every month. My father-in-law was reactivated because he became best friends with his home teacher, who kept on coming by every month even though my formerly inactive father-in-law didn’t want to see him. Now they are best friends, and my father-in-law was married in the temple and is a regular temple worker.

    My point is that I can completely understand why you hate home teaching — sometimes I hate it too. But it really is important, beyond just the whole statistics aspect.

  6. Sorry to be a cynic, but I’ve heard plenty of missionary stories about good LDS families in developing countries who could answer yes to all the items on Elder Clayton’s checklist but still can’t feed their children adquately. God is not Santa Claus.

  7. You are correct, Ann, God is not Santa Claus. He does, however, bless people who are obedient and keep His commandments.

    As a missionary in Salvador, Brazil, I witnessed people who had very little, but were filled with joy and happiness because they lived the gospel. I remember being in the home of a family who lived in a home that would have been condemned in the United States. The family had very little food, but freely imparted to my companion and me when we visited with them. I remember digging into my pockets and looking to see if I had enough money to leave with them. I struggled within myself, thinking of my own impoverished situation and finally realized that I would be unable to leave any money with them. That night I said one of the most fervent prayers I have ever uttered, praying for the well-being of the family. A peace washed over me when I finished my prayer and I knew the Lord would bless them and make sure that they never went without.

    In the ensuing weeks, I watched the family with particular interest every Sunday as they arrived at church. They wore bright smiles on their faces and bore sweet testimonies of the blessings they received from Heavenly Father for keeping the commandments.

    We do not always receive the blessings we want, but we are blessed when we keep the commandments. I have a testimony of this principle–a testimony born of personal experience and through observing the faith of others in action.

    Finally, as one who has been blessed in temporal ways, I feel a keen sense of duty to impart freely of my excess so that others may not go without.

  8. This statement (Elder Clayton) is potentially dangerous.

    If his statement means that faithful behavior will lead to better coping skills with the economic ups and downs of life, that is easily defensible (and, I suspect, that was what he was getting at).

    But, if it means that if you do A, B and C, you will not suffer from job loss, high medical expenses, potential bankruptcy, and home loss, then it is simply wrong. That kind of determinism is not defensible.

  9. @Bill Stebbing wrote: Financial hard times will come even if one is faithful in the gospel and church.

    Yes, but they’re more likely to be fewer and have less impact if we follow the counsel of the brethren to stay out of debt, build up savings, and have some food set aside for emergencies.

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