August 20, 2018

    Building a Foundation

    Hands building

    The journey to finding one’s testimony is specific to each person. As teachers, instructors, and administrators, we can help our students on their personal journeys to finding the truth of the gospel. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said, “Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God” (“‘Fear Not to Do Good,’Ensign, May 1983, 80).

    As we study the Doctrine and Covenants and Church history, we see that Joseph Smith is a great example of finding one’s testimony. He diligently sought truth, trusted the Lord, and acted upon spiritual promptings.  Moroni and other spiritual teachers helped him strengthen his testimony. Our students can also find their own testimony by seeking truth, trusting the Lord, acting on spiritual promptings, and being guided by spiritual leaders such as prophets, Apostles, priesthood leaders, Church teachers, and seminary and institute teachers.

    What Is a Testimony?

    President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, then of the First Presidency, described our personal testimony as “a protective shield, and like an iron rod it is guiding us safely through darkness and confusion” (“The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 39). As you build and strengthen your testimony, the attacks and temptations from the wicked will have a minimized effect (see Doctrine and Covenants 27:17).

    Acquiring this shield of testimony can happen in unique ways. For some, a single, strong spiritual experience will lay the foundation of their testimony. However, Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Seventy explained that “for others, [testimony] may come through a process of experiences that, perhaps not as remarkable but when combined, testify in an indisputable way that what we have learned and lived is true” (“Testimony as a Process,” Ensign and Liahona, Nov. 2008, 102).

    No matter how a student gains a testimony, whether by a profound experience or by precept upon precept, the spiritual strength gained will help protect that student from the adversary.

    A Teacher’s Role

    As a teacher, you have a unique role in helping students develop their testimonies. While you may not be able go to the store and pick up a prepackaged testimony for each student, you can provide the tools to help those students begin building their own testimonies.

    Share the Gospel

    The best way to help students build their testimonies is to teach them about those things you wish them to have a testimony of. Share the gospel. Testify of Christ and His redeeming Atonement. Teach modern-day revelation and the significance of the prophets. By informing students of gospel truths, you will be able to help them to plant the seed of testimony in their hearts.

    Be an Example

    One of the most profound ways to spark someone else’s testimony is to share your beliefs through your example. As you strive to live your life as the Savior did, you will show your students not only how a faithful Saint should act but also the blessings of following the Lord’s commandments.

    In a 1989 Ensign article, the author wrote, “As we use the Savior’s life as a standard for our behavior, we center our lives on him and show our children what power a living, vibrant faith can bring into their lives” (“How to Help Our Children Gain a Testimony,” Ensign, Dec. 1989, 61). Your example can show your students the power and hope your testimony of the gospel brings into your life.

    Create a Good Learning Environment

    Invite the Spirit into your classrooms. It is through the Spirit that students are able to learn fundamental truths on which they can build their testimonies. As we work to create an environment in which the Spirit can dwell, we are helping our students feel the influence they need to build a strong foundation.

    Invite Students to Share

    Encourage your students to share on social media their growing testimonies. Remind them that when they discuss these ideas with their friends outside the classroom, they can strengthen their own foundations and encourage their friends to do the same. A shareable image can be found on the LDS Seminary Facebook page and is included below.