Bearing a testimony is a way for us to declare a spiritual witness we have received from the Holy Ghost. We are encouraged to bear our testimonies when we are moved by the Holy Ghost to do so. Here are some tips that we can follow to bear a brief and heartfelt testimony.
A testimony is a declaration of the gospel truths we know
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf counseled us to include 5 foundational truths in our testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Heavenly Father lives and we are His children.
- Jesus is the Christ. He is the Savior of the world and the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh.
- Joseph Smith is a prophet of God through whom the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in our day.
- The Book of Mormon is the word of God and another testament of Jesus Christ.
- President Thomas S. Monson, his counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the prophets, seers, and revelators in these latter-days.
Sharing a story is not sharing a testimony
While it is not inappropriate to share a story when we bear our testimonies, it is important for us to understand that sharing a story does not equate to sharing a testimony. We can share a relevant spiritual experience that helped build our testimonies but we can make the story brief and focus on the gospel truths we have learned from that experience. We can skip the little details such as what time we left the house or whether the sun was shining or not. We can make the story short if we identify the main event or the part of the story that led us to the obtaining of a testimony of a gospel principle.
Some experiences are not meant to be shared
Most of us, if not all, have spiritual experiences that helped us gain a testimony of the gospel. However, some of these experiences are very personal and sacred and we must ponder whether to share them with others or not. A testimony is not meant for public confessions either, so we are counseled to prayerfully consider the personal experiences we wish to share. If we are prompted to share these experiences, we can keep them general and not discuss specific details.
Tears are not a necessary part of feeling the Spirit
Some people, while bearing their testimonies, may swell up in tears because they feel the Spirit very strongly. However, we must not confuse showing a strong emotion with having a real or powerful testimony. We must understand that it is okay not to have free-flowing tears when we bear our testimonies.
Expressions of gratitude are not a testimony
We often hear people expressing gratitude for having the gospel in their lives, for their families and friends, for trials that made them stronger, etc. during testimony meetings. While there is no rule that we cannot express gratitude while bearing our testimonies, we must know that expression of gratitude is not a testimony. If we want to express our gratitude to our families, friends and Church leaders, we can personally thank them after the testimony meeting.
A testimony is not an exhortation or a sermon
When we share our testimonies, our objective is to share the gospel truths that we know by the power of the Holy Ghost. A testimony is not intended to call everyone to repentance, to live righteously, to obey the commandments, or to pay a full tithe. It is not intended to preach the congregation a doctrine either. We can do this the next time we are given the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting.
Merely saying, “I have a testimony” is not a testimony
It is not wrong to say that we have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but shouldn’t we expound more on our actual testimony? We can continue by sharing the specific principles of the gospel that we know are true.
While all these tips are helpful reminders for us, the most important reminder is that spiritual truths manifested unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost can stand on their own. We do not need to make it more appealing and it is not necessary that it be eloquently worded because “[t]he things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). When we bear our testimonies, the Holy Ghost will testify to the hearts of those listening that the things we have shared are true. As we continue to bear our testimonies, the testimonies of others will be strengthened as well as our own.