Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Elder Richard G. Scott on the power of loving service to others

Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) served as a Seventy from 1977-1988, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He passed away in September 2015 at the age of 86.
"I will share one principle of truth which, if applied, can open the door to all the others you need to lift your spirit. It is a principle that will give you the power to make a difference in the quality of your own life.
"I speak of service—self-sacrificing service to others in need. I know it is hard to help another when you feel you have been wronged. I know it is difficult to take the first step when your own heart aches for companionship or yearns for understanding. Yet such acts of service open to us the mercy and love of Jesus Christ, the Master.
"Free agency is a divine gift, and God will not override it. Because of free agency, we must take the first step. Our initial acts of kindness or service to others provide us with channels of inspiration and power. In contrast, darkness and despair close in when the light of love and service dims or goes out within us. Feelings of bitterness and dissatisfaction feed upon themselves and give place to thoughts and acts of unkindness, criticism, and eventually even hatred....
"I am convinced that when we give unconditional love; when our interest is first in serving, building, edifying, strengthening without thought of self; when we do not expect an automatic return for each act of kindness, generosity, or sincere effort to help; when we are not concerned about what we will receive or what others will say or whether our own burdens will be diminished, but selflessly seek to build another, the miracle of the power of the gospel is released in our lives. When we permit the Lord to work through us to bless others, that sacred experience releases power in our own lives, and miracles occur."
- Richard G. Scott, "The Power to Make a Difference," General Conference October 1983
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Scott shared these thoughts in the context of repairing damaged relationships, such as what can occur between married couples. But the principle applies to all of us. It's a principle, as Elder Scott states, that can dramatically improve the quality of our own life as it lifts our spirit, to be engaged in unselfish and Christlike service to those around us.

Some of the keys to the kind of service Elder Scott is encouraging:

  • It is "self-sacrificing"—requires some effort and contribution on our part, not just doing something that is easy and convenient
  • It is unconditional and not self-serving, not done with the expectation of what we might receive in return
  • It is acting as an agent for the Lord, permitting Him to "work through us to bless others"
The critical nature of our agency in choosing how we will act and respond is manifest in this principle. Elder Scott teaches that "Because of free agency, we must take the first step." Then the help and blessings of heaven will flow.

This is the essence of Christian discipleship. It is the key to receiving "the miracle of the power of the gospel" in our lives. It is a lesson that we must learn and a principle that we must express in our lives to be truly happy.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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