Sunday, July 3, 2016

Spencer W. Kimball on the importance of sharing testimonies with each other

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) was ordained an apostle in 1943 and served as President of the Church from 1973 to 1985.
"Testimony meetings are some of the best meetings in the ward in the whole month, if you have the spirit. If you are bored at a testimony meeting, there is something the matter with you, and not the other people. You can get up and bear your testimony and you think it is the best meeting in the month; but if you sit there and count the grammatical errors and laugh at the man who can’t speak very well, you’ll be bored, and on that board you’ll slip right out of the Kingdom. Don’t forget it! You have to fight for a testimony. You have to keep fighting!
"The Lord says in the 60th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, 'With some I am not well pleased for they will not open their mouths' (D&C 60:2). What does he mean? He says that if they do not use it, they will lose what he has given them. They lose their spirit. They lose their testimony. And this priceless thing that you have can slip right out of your life.
"Every month the First Presidency and the Twelve meet with all the General Authorities in the temple. They bear testimony and they tell each other how they love one another just like all of you. Why do the General Authorities need a testimony meeting? The same reason that you need a testimony meeting. Do you think that you can go three, and six, and nine, and twelve months without bearing your testimony and still keep its full value?
"Some of our good people get so terrified at triteness that they try to steer around and away from their testimonies by getting out on the fringes. Don’t you ever worry about triteness in testimony. When the President of the Church bears his testimony, he says, 'I know that Joseph Smith was called of God, a divine representative. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.' You see, the same thing every one of you says. That is a testimony. It never gets old, never gets old! Tell the Lord frequently how much you love him....
"Don’t you sit there in your fast meeting and cheat yourself and say, 'I guess I won’t bear my testimony today. I guess that wouldn’t be fair to these other members because I have had so many opportunities.' You bear your testimony. And one minute is long enough to bear it.
"You have a testimony! It needs building and lifting and enlarging, of course; and that is what you are doing. Every time you bear your testimony it becomes strengthened."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Testimony," New Era, Aug. 1981, pp. 4–7
Click here to read the full talk

This counsel is still very timely 35 years after it was offered. It's easy for us to criticize meetings, talks, and testimonies as being shallow or uninspiring. But President Kimball reminds us that it's often our own attitude or preparation that make all the difference in our perception of the meeting or the message. The key phrase appears to be "if you have the spirit."

The little play on words involving "bored" and "board" was clever.

There were three other insights I truly appreciated:

  1. Even the leaders of the Church at the highest level hold testimony meetings because of the benefits it provides;
  2. What we say in our testimonies matters, but we should not fear "triteness"; the simplicity and purity of testimony is what matters;
  3. We must not hesitate to bear testimony frequently

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