Self-reliance and emergency preparedness have always been strongly encouraged by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a way to personally fortify ourselves in times of natural disaster or hardship. In his October 2021 General Conference talk “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” Church President Russell M. Nelson warned us against “spiritual earthquakes.”
Doug Barker, the Clery compliance coordinator in the Public Safety Department at BYU-Idaho, addressed students in his devotional talk "Preparing for Our Spiritual Safety." With his experience as a teacher of personal safety, crime prevention and emergency response preparation, he gave four sure ways we can prepare for spiritual calamity.
He taught that spiritual and physical preparedness hinges on awareness of our surroundings, recognition of the risks and dangers, reduction of those risks and avoidance of the initial dangers. Brother Barker reasoned that practicing spiritually fortifying acts like regular prayer will significantly benefit our lives.
“If we practice and train our bodies and minds to handle these situations it becomes muscle memory. We will react the way we have trained and practiced. For example, stop, drop, and roll if you find that your clothing is on fire, or stop, look, and listen, before crossing a busy and dangerous street,” he said.
Responding to spiritual and physical emergencies will become easier when good habits are firmly founded in consistent routine. In an April 2020 conference talk, President Nelson counseled that increasing spiritual capacity to receive revelation will help us know how to react in times of crisis. Brother Barker emphasized how receiving this blessing requires action.
“Our spiritual strengths must be exercised to grow," he said. "If we want to increase our Spiritual capacity, we can’t just read or study about increasing capacity, we must add action… Our Father in Heaven will give us opportunities to develop spiritual strengths. Trials are a part of all of our lives, we grow stronger as we overcome these trials. They come in many forms. If we are in tune with the spirit, we will recognize these opportunities to overcome and act on them.”
Without action, we cannot become prepared, and without evaluating our strengths and weaknesses, we will not be in a position to lift those in need. In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Brother Barker shared why spiritual and physical preparation is so important.
“You cannot help anybody else, right, if your spirit is broken down and you’re hurting or there’s something that’s preventing you from progressing and having that faith and joy and peace we are supposed to have,” Brother Barker said.
He testified that taking small action will increase individual faith and the faith of others by example. Brother Barker encourages students to work on themselves so they can be a more refined tool for service in the hands of God.