One of my concerns as a parent and teacher in the church is how to help others develop and strengthen their personal testimonies. While it may seem overwhelming when you look at the task as a whole, the Lord has given us simple tools to cultivate his light in our souls. Just as we would never expect a seed to grow without nourishment and care, we should not expect a personal testimony to grow up overnight. We live in a world where everything is available in an instant. However, developing a personal testimony takes time and commitment. It takes work.
While we cannot make someone develop a testimony of the Gospel, we can help them to nourish it and to recognize their opportunity to grow one. I think perhaps this is the most difficult to do when we are dealing with a troubled teen or even a willful spouse or parent. The most important thing is to never lose hope and never stop being an example of the Lord’s light.
One of the things I have noticed when working with the youth is that often they do not recognize when they have a testimony. Sometimes the most important thing that we can do as parents and leaders is to help them to learn to recognize the influence of the spirit. Never discount even something that they or we may deem as a small thing. Just as you don’t need to actually eat an entire cookie in one bite to know that it is good, you don’t need to read the entire Book of Mormon to know that it is good. We should continue to daily read it, but the Lord never intended for us to swallow the entire scripture course in one sitting. It takes time.
Once you have learned to recognize the spirit, then everything else will fall into place in due time. Remember that our desired timeline may not be the same timeline that the Lord has in mind. He has said that by small things he accomplishes great things.
Here are some things that you can do to continue to develop and nurture your testimony:
When we take the time to talk with our Heavenly Father, we invite His spirit into our day. We can pray about most anything that we may need or desire. Do not be afraid to discuss everything with your Father. He loves and cares about you. He is interested in your life. He wants to help you. Ask. Don’t be afraid to share your desire for a testimony with Him. He will be glad to help you. If you are praying for someone else to develop a testimony, share your concerns with God. He will help you to know what to say and do when the time is appropriate in His eyes.
Take the time to read your scriptures daily. He has given us His words to help us enrich our lives and develop our testimonies. Many times we will find the answers we are seeking in the words that He has already provided to us. Really search the scriptures and devour the words that are contained therein.
Also take the time to read the church magazines and conference talks. These will help enrich your mind and allow the spirit to be present in your heart.
Take the time to listen to talks from church leaders. The talks that we listen to each General Conference are inspired and are there to aid us in becoming more valiant members of the Gospel.
Listen closely to the promptings of the spirit. The spirit will speak to your heart and mind the very things that the Lord wishes you to know.
One of the most important things we can do is to identify the spirit in our lives. I cannot stress this fact enough. If you need ideas of how to identify the spirit, then I invite you to ponder the words we find in Galatians 5: 22-23. Here we are given the fruits of the spirit. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Another of my very favorite scriptures concerning the spirit is found in Jacob 4:13: “…for the spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls.”
When we help others, we invite the spirit to be with us. We demonstrate the love of the Lord to those we are helping and allow the love of the Lord to work within us.
When we do all of these things, we are providing the nutrients we need to help our testimonies develop and grow. They may seem simple, but the Gospel IS simple. We just tend to make it difficult.
Remember that the Lord expects us to learn “line upon line, precept on precept.” As we do this, our testimony will grow and bloom. We will be able to stand tall and strong against the winds of the adversary and we will be able to help others learn to do so too.