“Sharing your testimony often is one of the most powerful ways of inviting the Spirit and helping others feel the Spirit.”
-Preach My Gospel
When I give talks in church, I always start with my testimony of the Savior regardless of the topic. I do this for a lot of reasons, but the main reason I start with my testimony is because it invites the Spirit. Why do we want to invite the Spirit? Because it’s the Spirit that literally changes you. Whenever you feel the Spirit, you are applying the atonement in your life, and you’re changing. We need the Spirit to do that in the lives of those we help teach, and so it’s crucial to put forth that invitation by bearing your testimony.
Though giving a testimony may seem like a silly topic to do an entire blog post on, I’ve found that many of us don’t actually know how to do it. It’s much easier than you might imagine.
Make it simple
Preach My Gospel teaches that, “To bear testimony is to give a simple, direct declaration of belief…”
A testimony is not a story or sermon or example or whatever you might think. A testimony is a declaration of belief. See the following examples.
“I know that Christ loves me.”
“I have come to know for myself that The Book of Mormon is true.”
“The Spirit has confirmed to me that families can be together forever.”
That’s it. Does that mean you shouldn’t give a story? Not necessarily. Stories can help people remember or relate to you, but it’s crucial to understand the testimony part. If you DO choose to share a story, make it short and make sure you give that simple declaration of belief. That’s the most important part.
The Holy Ghost testifies of truth. If you’re not telling the truth while bearing your testimony, the Holy Ghost can’t confirm it. Have you sought out your own testimony for specific principles? Do you know that fasting works? Have you received a testimony that Joseph Smith had the first vision? Have you felt the blessings of attending the temple?
In missionary discussions, you will often find a missionary asking you to bear your testimony about something specific. For example, they will say, “Sister So-and-so, would you be willing to share your testimony of The Book of Mormon?” In these situations, you don’t have to pretend to be anything you’re not. If you don’t have a testimony of The Book of Mormon (or whatever principle it may be), you can respond truthfully and effectively in two ways:
“To be honest, I don’t know if The Book of Mormon is true. But I believe it’s true. I’ve seen blessings come from it in the lives of those I love. I’m grateful for the blessings that have come into my life because of it.”
Or if you’re looking to be even more awesome…
“To be honest, I don’t know if The Book of Mormon is true. How about we find out together?”
People can sense sincerity. We all have that intuition whether we consciously recognize it or not. We can feel whether a person is completely sincere.
How to put power behind your testimony
Have you ever heard a testimony that seemed to change the very atmosphere? It’s hard to describe, but it feels like the room just kind of filled up? Everything seems to just get more quiet. I wanted that kind of testimony on my mission. I very rarely made it happen though I studied it frequently. There are two main things that seemed to change how I view powerful testimonies.
The first one goes without saying, and I’m going to sound like a broken record. Invite the Spirit. You’ll probably see that sentiment in any article I post about missionary work. The Spirit does the real leg work in these lessons so you have to have it with you. Prepare yourself. Be reverent. Play uplifting music. Hug your family. All of these things invite the Spirit.
The second lesson came to me after my mission. If you want to bear a truly powerful testimony, you have to have a truly powerful testimony, and that takes effort.
Because I love concrete examples and working out, I’m going to give you an analogy. You’ve got two women who are both trying to prepare for a weightlifting competition. The first woman puts in thirty minutes every day leading up to the event. The second woman goes to the gym a day or two before the event and proceeds to work out for three hours. Who is going to be stronger? It’s obvious, right?
So how come it’s not so obvious when we apply it to our testimonies? Why do we think we can have power from heaven in our lives if we don’t practice utilizing that power everyday? You may not feel much of a difference day to day, much like the first woman in our analogy. However, over the course of a lifetime, you’re going to be developing a testimony that no one can take away from you.
That’s my last tip. If you want to have a powerful testimony to bear in a missionary discussion, you have to put in the work everyday.