BYU devotional: Elder Kent F. Richards shares lessons from the Savior's young adult life


Four main lessons taught by accounts of Christ's own young adult years were reviewed by Elder Kent F Richards as he addressed students during Brigham Young University devotional March 10.

Christ learned through His own experiences, increased through difficult trials, waited on the Lord before beginning His ministry, and made covenants and received ordinances, Elder Richards said. Learning from Christ’s example can help young adults find direction in their own lives.

“These key years are vitally important in your eternal life,” said Elder Richards of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department. “No longer are they just ‘preparatory’ years for your future. They are your future. Of course you will continue to grow, but the ‘now’ of your young adult years is foundational to your ‘divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.’ ”

‘Christ learned through His own experiences.’

When Christ came to the earth, “He had all power, all knowledge and held the keys from His Father for the salvation of all of Heavenly Father’s children,” Elder Richards said. However, Christ “had to learn some things in mortality that He apparently could not have known otherwise.”

Like Christ, every young adult learns from experience by making small, righteous choices every day. “You may not even recognize the significance of little day-to-day choices that you make today until later in life, as you see the unfolding of the consequences of your choices today,” Elder Richards said.

Choices Elder Richards made before his mission to complete as many pre-med courses as he could and take the MCAT helped him later in life to start medical school weeks after marrying his Marsha Gurr. As newlyweds, they consistently made choices to keep the commandments, from paying a meager tithing to accepting callings and serving others when it seemed inconvenient. “We were experiencing what we personally needed to know and understand and could not learn any other way,” Elder Richards said.

‘Christ grew.’

Elder Richards reflected on what Christ’s growing-up years must have been like, saying, “His [life] was not a test of faith, but a test of constant perfection, with complete knowledge and power, within an imperfect world. Waxing strong must have included for Him, as it does for us, perfecting those very attributes that He exemplified.”

Personal growth comes when one follows the path the Lord has laid before them, and then each obstacle in that path is overcome. Elder Richards asked his children what key lessons they learned from their time at BYU. One said, “I had to decide what was important, and do it, even if it was hard.”

Elder Richards witnessed young married couples learning this lesson when they were “seeking high educational goals even when it seemed impossible, beginning a family even when desperately poor, humbly serving the Lord especially when it was hard.”

“ ‘Hard’ has always been part of the formula. ‘Hard’ seems to be required for growth,” Elder Richards said. “The Savior learned and suffered through personal, deep, searing contradictions and indignities, which He humbly allowed.”

"Christ 'waited upon the Lord for the time of His ministry to come.'"

During His young adult years, Christ waited for the time when He would be called to begin His ministry and complete the work He was sent to do.

“Did His ‘waiting’ mean inaction or just playing the equivalent of video games while waiting for circumstances to come together to make it easy to begin His ministry?” Elder Richards asked. The scriptures paint a different picture of Christ waiting for the time of His ministry. When He was 12 years old, He told his mother, after three days of teaching elders in the temple, “[I] must be about my Father’s business.” Then He waited another 18 years to begin His ministry.

When Elder Richards' family was called to serve a mission, their lives were changed and rearranged. From football to dance, violin and piano lessons, each child’s plans and dreams had to be put on hold. The next day in sacrament meeting, they sang, “I’ll Go Where (and when and how and why) You Want Me to Go, Dear Lord,” according to Elder Richards. Later in life, he said that each child saw in their own way, “Everything that is good in our lives is because we served.”

“We each come to learn our Father’s will for us,” Elder Richards said, “but the Lord’s timing is not always our timing. Yet, His way is always good.”

‘Christ made covenants and received ordinances.’

At the beginning of His ministry, Christ was baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Receiving the same ordinances enables each person to access the blessings of the Atonement. “[God] can only bless us after we have made covenants with Him and are faithfully keeping them,” Elder Richards said.

In the temple, members make covenants that help them progress and prepare for the highest blessings God has to offer. It also gives them an opportunity to serve others in this life and the next, allowing them to renew their own blessings and promises, Elder Richards said. “Young friends, you need the temple. You need the temple perhaps more now than at any other time in your mortal life,” he said.

In conclusion, Elder Richards said, “Dear friends, as you follow this pattern from Christ’s own young years, you will be blessed and come to live and love the Christ-like attributes that He exemplified.”

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