Sunday, June 3, 2018

President Harold B. Lee on the importance of nurturing a testimony

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"A testimony can grow or diminish. [The Master said to Peter,] 'Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren' (Luke 22:31-32). Now, mind you, He is saying that to the chiefest of the Twelve. I am praying for you; now go out and get converted, and when you get converted, then go strengthen your brother. It means [we can become] unconverted just as well as we can become converted.
"Your testimony is something that you have today but you may not have it always. That testimony is either going to increase and grow until you become as sure of the things, through faith, as you are that the sun shines; or if you allow it to dwindle, either through sin or through your ignorance or neglect, it's going to be just as dim and you are going to be standing in the dark more lost than if you had never seen.... When we see with our eyes what we ought to see, when we hear with our ears what we ought to hear, and when we understand with our hearts what we ought to understand, then we are converted. But by this same token, when we fail to do that, we can become unconverted."
- Harold B. Lee, address to Ricks College Student Body and Student Leaders, March 3, 1962; see also THBL 138

The idea of becoming "unconverted" is an intriguing one. Just as we can gain in light and knowledge, in our faith and surety—we can equally diminish and decline in those same qualities and characteristics. President Lee warns us to be careful about the direction we are heading. Even the chiefest of the ancient apostles was instructed by the Lord to nurture and strengthen his faith and testimony in order to be truly converted. But then be wary about drifting the other direction!

The things we do to become converted, will also help us to stay converted. President Lee warns that if we fail to do them, we risk losing our strength and testimony. What a great topic to ponder regularly as we consider our activities and our personal progress.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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