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What is spiritual self-reliance and what should it look like? Here's what Elder Richards told students at LDSBC

Working years ago as a trauma surgeon, Elder Kent F. Richards received notification that an ambulance was on its way and he needed to be ready for a man with a stab wound in his heart. Though the patient was clinically dead, Elder Richards knew he might be able to still save him and rushed him to the emergency room.

When Elder Richards had a better view of the area inside the man's chest, he found blood and clots in the pericardial sac around the heart. After emptying the sac, the heart began to beat again. Elder Richards placed his finger inside the hole in the man’s chest as the team resuscitated him, and the man lived.

Elder Richards, now an emeritus General Authority Seventy, says the story is similar to how repentance works, with sin like piercing oneself in the heart. “Sometimes it is a small needle prick and other times it is a long bladed knife.”

But, Elder Richards said, the Savior can cure all wounded hearts and make each person whole again.

Speaking to LDS Business College students and faculty in a June 11 devotional at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, he urged all to become spiritually self-reliant through prayer and repentance.

“Self-reliance is not self-taught. It is learned,” he said, quoting from Church self-reliance online trainings.

Elder Richards said the ultimate goal of physical self-reliance is for each person is to “gain the capacity to care for oneself and family and to be happy and progressive.” Spiritual self-reliance should be thought of in the same way, he added.

Spiritual self-reliance “means doing all we can for our own spiritual growth and learning, realizing that we cannot succeed without the sustaining of spiritual power and gifts from on high.”

Elder Kent F. Richards, emeritus General Authority Seventy, speaks to LDSBC students in a devotional address on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
Elder Kent F. Richards, emeritus General Authority Seventy, speaks to LDSBC students in a devotional address on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Photo: Alexa Reimschussel

Heavenly Father knew we would need help, Elder Richards said, so He gave His children the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost to guide His children back to Him.

Elder Richards quoted President Wilford Woodruff: “The greatest blessing available to man on earth is the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

Using the family of Lehi as an example, Elder Richards explained that the help they received from the Liahona on their journey out of Jerusalem is similar to how the guidance of the Spirit functions throughout life. Lehi’s family could use the Liahona as long as they put their faith in the Lord and called out to Him in humble supplication of prayer.

Through prayer and obedience to God’s commandments, Elder Richards said, “you reap the beautiful consequences by being blessed and happy.”

This happiness shouldn’t create complacency or keep anyone from fortifying against the powers of Satan, but sometimes the enemy infiltrates our fortifications, Elder Richards said.

He quoted from President Nelson who said: “Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind."

And when used in faith, repentance provides access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ through which all can be healed and forgiven for their sins.

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