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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Get Off Your Butt and Move Yourself!! Oh, and Cook Your Own Meals Too!! » Get Off Your Butt and Move Yourself!! Oh, and Cook Your Own Meals Too!!

Get Off Your Butt and Move Yourself!! Oh, and Cook Your Own Meals Too!!

Don - July 5, 2006

It’s come to my attention that maybe we are TEACHING our members to live off the dole.  We hear the opposite preached all the time: how important it is for us to become self-reliant…spend less…use up…wear out…do without etc.  The message is clear we rely first on ourselves, then our own family, then the church and then maybe the government.  So why does it keep happening?

Why do we continue to get asked in Priesthood to help move someone?  Or why are we asked in R.S. to bring in meals to a new mother?  I don’t remember the exact discussion but an older High Priest asked the question in class one day, "Why are we bringing meals to this mother, she’s had 9 months to prepare?"  He suggested that the women should have made meals in advance for her family and put them in the freezer.  He also suggested that the husband was perfectly capable of fixing meals.

Then there’s the family who just arrived in town last night and calls the Bishop and wants help unloading their U-haul.  And the next week it’s the family that’s moving out of the Ward and the Elders Quroum’s help in loading the truck.

We’ve taught these people to think this way!  It’s the Mormon expectation.  So you say "yeah, so what’s wrong with that?"  I think it’s a matter of attitude and maybe even a bit of living the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

Should a new mother prepare meals in advance of her delivery?  Yes!  Can the father fix meals for the family?  He certainly should!  Should the R.S. assign meals to be taken in to the family?  I think it depends.  First it’s the V.T.s responsibility to assess the needs.  Second it’s the V.T.s responsiblity to make sure the needs are met…either with them doing it, or asking further help. 

Here’s why I have a problem with the current attitude.  The mother expects it to be done.  Some go as far as to request certain foods, or tell the sisters what not to bring.  No one has met with the sister / husband to explain that they have some responsibility here to prepare in advance.  No one has really met with the sister / husband to assess the needs (there’s a big difference between the NEEDS and WANTS that many members have or feel they are entitled to).  Do we every contact, or have the sister contact her own family to see how they can / will help?

Same thing holds true for the move-ins and move-outs.  If you’ve been in the Ward a while then why is it the Elders Quorum’s responsibility to move you out?  Do you have family?  Why isn’t it your responsibility to call a few of your friends to come over and help…why does it have to be an assignment from the quorum?  In fact, if you’d take it on yourself you’d get a lot less rejection calling a few of your friends than the EQ presidency will get making calls for you.  You should be the one making the calls not the presidency.

And if you’re moving into a new ward CALL AHEAD!  I don’t thin we have to jump up and help people who don’t plan properly.  That goes for the ones who haven’t put any effort in getting things ready to move too!  We don’t have to pull the ox out of the mire if the stupid owner pushed it in!

Again, I guess I see this problem as much to do with attitude as I do with helping when we should.  Sure we should helpout and serve others.  But, I think it should be voluntarily done, not by guilt.  I think it should be because we want to help, not because we have to help.  I think the people should take more of the responsibility themselves.  I think we should quit training our members to rely on the service of others…I think that is contrary to what the brethern have taught us.


  1. What about the grandmother’s family? My wife has been out visiting our new grandson and helping out his mother since last Monday, and I’ve been stuck here in Brooklyn having to cook my own meals and walk my own dog.

    And I know that the Primary knows my wife is gone, and the wife of the second counselor in the bishopric, since I saw her on the bus Sunday. But nobody, NOBODY, has brought us any tuna casserole or green jello or even a lousy mushroom soup and green beans dish.

    Oh, the humanity!

    Comment by Mark B. — July 5, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  2. Our whole family mobilized to move princess buttgold and Nick into their new apartment. We did it in a few hours. I made sure she had stuff for dinner and I said, “this is what the Relief Society does. Someday you might need to do this for another girl. Remember this, Sister Sue.” (I also call her sister Sue.).

    She was grateful and hopefully got some training.

    Comment by annegb — July 5, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

  3. Actually, there are places where expecting mothers are encouraged to prepare meals and where husbands are expected to cook and clean when mom can’t. But they are, I think, rare.

    We have two ideals: one of service, the other of self-reliance. Both are good. If an individual or a family won’t, it’s the leadership that has to make a decision about which one comes to bat in any given inning.

    Comment by Mogget — July 5, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  4. Mark B,
    Dude, I can’t believe that second counselor, what a jerk!

    Don said, “We don’t have to pull the ox out of the mire if the stupid owner pushed it in!

    You’re right, we don’t have to. But I think our first instinct should be to help and sacrifice before “well, they screwed up so I’m not going to help them!”

    I think it should be because we want to help, not because we have to help.

    Who says you HAVE to help? Certainly not the Church. Perhaps your conscience but that’s it.

    I personally don’t mind helping people move in (and we have a ton of them in our ward and we’re often hiking four flights in tight stairwells). I think it’s a good activity for the men of the ward to get to know each other better. It’s not like we have a weekly basketball game or anything. Plus, it’s nice when it’s your turn.

    Comment by Rusty — July 5, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  5. Don:

    I’m with you on this. There are few things that chafe at me more than a solid, middle-to-upper-middle-class family pressing the membership for help negotiating their way through an anticipated event such as child-birth or moving. On the moving front paying someone to pack and load a truck typically costs less than the truck rental and if a family can afford a TV, computer, and a host of other conveniences then they ought to be able to afford to pay someone to help them move.

    I think here in the States a lot of our “service” activity is spent providing “service” to those who don’t really need it– and I find that sad. I think far too many families treat invonveniences as “hardships” and fail to plan for even the simplest bumps in the road. A lot of Mormons have their year’s supply of commodities but how many even maintain a three month reserve of cash on hand to handle the minor inconveniences of life.

    In the past year my family has moved, added a child, and had the primary financial provider spend a month in the hospital and convalesing at home. During none of those events (two of which we knew about with plenty of prep time and one of which was a surprise) did we petition our ward/branch for assistance because we were prepared to deal with the situation ourselves. By letting people get away with asking for help with such minor inconveniences we foster irresponsible behavior that tends to escalate to the point where certain people become so addicted to the “help” that they seem completely incapable of negotiating life on their own.

    Comment by Paul Mortensen — July 5, 2006 @ 3:17 pm

  6. The cost of hiring commerical movers to pack, load, unload and unpack is higher than you think. Depending on the distance, using professional movers can easily add $1,000 or more to the cost of a move. Even if you do the packing, loading and unloading is not cheap.

    Last time I moved, I had friends, both IN and OUT of the EQ help me. I packed everything, and paid for the truck.

    But for a some furniture, you need 2 to 4 people. Plus, if you have a lot of volume, one person, or one family just can’t do it in a day. Get a bunch of people, do it in 2 to 4 hours, and you save from having to rent the truck for an extra day or make extra trips.

    You’re right that when you need to call on friends, that YOU should do the calling/asking, and should not limit it to the Elders’ Quorum. True friends would cross ward boundaries, and your non-member friends would help too.

    I’ve helped a little-old-lady (who is a member) move, and I was a little bitter that her able-bodied sons and grand-sons were absent, even though many of them lived locally.

    However, I figured that I was providing service to the Lord. And my service to the Lord, and his response in turn, does not depend on the attitude or honesty of the person to whom I’m rendering service. If a person “used” me unrighteously, that’s his/her problem, not mine.

    But getting friends to help move you saves a LOT of money. And it’s one of those “karma” deals. If you help others move, then people (should) be there to help you move.

    In my recent wards, there are unemployed brethren, so I offered to pay them last time they helped. Others I offered, and they delined. Maybe I should offer to pay all the helpers an hourly wage, and if someone who doesn’t really need the money, wants to do it for the “blessings” instead of the cash, he can donate the money to the church as a fast offering. That way, my conscience is clear by paying for the services I received, and my helpers can literally do it for the Lord by donating the wages.

    Or a helper could pocket the cash as temporal compensation for his temporal efforts.

    Comment by Bookslinger — July 5, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

  7. Good point, Don. I’m not sure how to go about solving this problem in others, but I think it’s easily solved in ourselves. I think we can take a simultaneous attitude of self-reliance when it comes to ourselves and service when it comes to others. Plan on moving/preparing meals for ourselves and plan on moving/preparing meals for others. I think it’s when we seek justice, an equal playing field or quid pro quo that we run into problems.

    Comment by Eric Russell — July 5, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

  8. Hmm. If I can be blunt, here…I think you’re being totally lame.

    Fixing meals and helping people move does not exactly equal a welfare state. It’s just some meals and carrying some boxes.

    The only time I’ve had meals brought into my family was the time I was in the hospital in a diabetic coma. I didn’t expect it, but it was much appreciated.

    The times we’ve had help moving have been a few. Sometimes I had family members helping as well, sometimes we lived too far away from family members for them to help. But the times I’ve had family members there, they were non-LDS, and they were impressed with our church and the people in it.

    Comment by Susan M — July 6, 2006 @ 10:05 am

  9. Fixing meals and helping people move does not exactly equal a welfare state. It’s just some meals and carrying some boxes.


    Comment by Rusty — July 6, 2006 @ 11:52 am

  10. Susan and Rusty,

    It might be just meals and boxes, but it’s a welfare attitude when we teach the members to expect it!

    Comment by don — July 6, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  11. And what’s wrong with being able to expect help from those in your spiritual family? Some things, like childbirth and moving may be more-or-less predictable but let me tell you, having even one small thing done (like a casserole brought over) that means one less thing to be taken care of is a world of relief. Not only that but it’s an assurance that other people are aware of the events in your life and they care. Who wants less of that??

    Some people may be ungracious about the help and be controlling and demanding but that’s a problem with their attitude, not the church’s. Anyway, it’s not our job to judge if someone is “worthy” of our help or not; it’s just our job to give what aid we can. “Even as ye do unto the least of these, my bretheren, ye have done it unto me.” If they’ve taken unfair advantage then that’s between them and the Lord. But every little thing I do for someone, needed or not, is also between me and the Lord. On which side would you rather be?

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — July 6, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

  12. I think many here are missing the point.

    The problem isn’t having to provide for others in need, it’s providing for those who can manage the work themselves and/or EXPECT charitable help from others. Service from your fellow men isn’t a right, it’s a privilege and should always be viewed as such.

    I think Paul has a good point too in that we could spend our time looking for and helping those who are in REAL need of our service rather than on those who could do the work themselves or expect our help. If they need the help, great. If you just want to ease someone’s burden by making a meal for them, great. But don’t expect it.

    Comment by Bret — July 7, 2006 @ 4:33 am

  13. In burying children, and being an active member of a ward, holding callings and doing them, I also managed to go several years without being visited by home teachers.

    I think you expect too much of the home teachers, etc.

    He suggested that the women should have made meals in advance for her family and put them in the freezer. He also suggested that the husband was perfectly capable of fixing meals.

    Indeed. One should never expect love, or care, or kindness.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — July 7, 2006 @ 8:02 am

  14. By some perverse case of coincidence the day after I posted the above I had to go in for emergency surgury (apendectomy). My wife diagnosed my symptoms, took me to the hospital, dropped me off, and proceeded to take the kids to all their summer activities and still made it back in time to sign the waiver for my surgury. My family never missed a beat. That evening my wife got a call from the RS Pres asking if she could help provide a meal that evening for a family with a mother who had come down with stomach flu. My wife rolled her eyes and fullfilled the request– never once mentioning what our family’s current ordeal. At church today the RS Pres was quite shocked to find out the back story and equally shocked that we didn’t play the role of chicken little.

    Any middle-class family with the least bit of preparedness should be able to do as well as we did given the situation.

    Comment by Paul Mortensen — July 9, 2006 @ 9:37 pm

  15. I would be more than happy to move a member who actually attended our ward. But not ONCE have we moved an active member. None of the active members would dare request it b/c at least twice a month we are called on for an “emergency move” (i.e. they want to be moved NOW with no advance warning) for someone who has never been to church, and views the church as free labor. 70% of the time when we show up nothing is packed. And the worst part is if you say no to helping, you know the one true angel of our ward, a single man who is pushing 80, will be their alone hauling the boxes for 5 hours. Did i mention once i was called upon to help a single mom with her home, and showed up to your basic home remodel? I hung dry wall, and repainted walls to make it more asthetically pleasing. WHAT?

    I agree that we enable dependence on the church & its members, and get taken advantage of often – but am not sure there is a clear solution. Ater all haven’t we been taught it is better to give to 10 who are un-worthy than turn away the 1 worthy?

    Comment by Anonymous — July 10, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

  16. There are people who tempt me to smack them upside of the head by their self-pitying helplessness. I get enraged when I hear the complaint “the bishop wouldn’t pay their rent” or “she was sick for weeks and no one came to clean her house.”

    On the other hand, I served as compassionate service for years and find that this type of people are in the minority. They exist in every ward, but usually the circumstances of those needing help arise quite suddenly.

    There is nothing more wonderful than being able to in some way assuage the grief a parent feels, or to reach out when a young father gets a diagnosis of cancer.

    Our task as Christians and the blessed among the world is to reach out to others and help. There is a difference between the leeches and those who genuinely need the help.

    And guess what? I usually help the leeches, because you never know. I like the saying “if you must err, err in mercy.”

    Although, I have no trouble looking at the sister who forgot to pack before we got there and saying “Geez, Susan, what have you been doing all week?”

    Comment by annegb — July 16, 2006 @ 10:50 am

  17. Hey Don,
    I’m FINALLY checking out this blogspot you and Rusty have told me about. I think I’ve resisted for some time because, while I believe in the core principles of the church, I think the culture it has spawned often misses the mark. I’m sure that were I to read over the postings for the past couple of years, I’d find similar themes.

    However, if it is possible to have good discussion around the things that really matter, I’d love to participate. I see a recent posting from Rusty which indicates he is getting burned out with this.

    I’m glad to see our discussion about the welfare mentality in church took hold. I agree with your comments. I don’t think the issue is should we or shouldn’t we offer such services; some people truly need them. The issue is that we should structure the environment in the church such that people are not dependent on others, as much as possible. Clearly this is not always possible but it should be the goal. Unfortunately we introduce people to the church by offering them rides to church, moving help to their next apartment, welfare assistance as a ‘perk’, etc. We need a return to some of that 19th century Brigham Young spirit of independence.

    Maybe we should look at it as a problem of resources. We have limited human resources in each ward. When we squander those resources with EQ presidents calling around, getting movers, people actually doing the moving, etc. we divert resources which could be used on people who really need them. I recall in my ward in NY a man who had recently received his PhD and was moving in to teach at the university. We helped him move in. He moved out a few years later to do a sabbatical. He received help to move out and back in a year later. I’ve heard he is moving out this summer. He is a well-paid professional and should pay for his own moves or ask close friends to help, not rely on EQ Moving, Inc.

    Yet I’m always in awe of those silent workers in the ward, like my bishop of that ward. Busiest guy I know, yet shows up at moves like that, yet when he had to move last year, asked no one for help and paid movers to do most of the big work. I’m just a whiner.

    Comment by Stan — July 30, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

  18. Welcome Stan, it’s about time you took a moment and saw the blog in action.

    Actually it is difficult to find something new to discuss, or at least a new viewpoint. Most common things have been blogged to death by now.

    give me some more ideas….see where it takes us.

    Comment by Don — July 31, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

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