- I'm thankful for my family
- I know I wouldn't be grateful to my heavenly father if I didn't get up here today
- While I was on vacation last year at Powell...
- Brother Harrison is a good home teacher (Frank gets a free pass for this)
- My personal favorite, from a single's ward, "I love my roommate!"
While these may make one feel nice on the inside and is nice to share in a more intimate setting, it is not appropriate for a testimony meeting. Indeed Elder Oaks said this past April, "A testimony of the gospel is not a travelogue, a health log, or an expression of love for family members. It is not a sermon. President Kimball taught that the moment we begin preaching to others, our testimony is ended" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 138. In April 2004, Elder Ballard made this even clearer. "Like almost everything else in life, testimonies grow and develop through experience and service. We often hear some members, and especially children, bear their testimonies, listing things for which they are thankful: their love of family, the Church, their teachers, their friends. For them, the gospel is something that they are grateful for because it makes them feel happy and secure. This is a good beginning, but testimonies need to be much more. They need to be anchored very early to the first principles of the gospel."
An appropriate testimony should include something like these points as they are foundational principles of the Gospel:
- I know that God lives
- I know that Jesus is the Christ
- I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet
- I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God
- I know that President Monson is living prophet and guides the church
To further illustrate the point, when missionaries learn another language in the MTC and spend a lesson on learning how to testify in their new language (which is all many greenies can do when they arrive in their respective mission), they testify in their new language "I know" and not "I am thankful for".
If you think that I am embellishing this point, wait until next Sunday and see how many times someone says "I'm thankful for" instead of "I know". I am curious to see if you think this happens as much as I do. When listening, think about whether we are following Elder Ballard's counsel:
"My experience throughout the Church leads me to worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on “I am thankful” and “I love,” and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, “I know.” As a result, our meetings sometimes lack the testimony-rich, spiritual underpinnings that stir the soul and have meaningful, positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them.
Our testimony meetings need to be more centered on the Savior, the doctrines of the gospel, the blessings of the Restoration, and the teachings of the scriptures. We need to replace stories, travelogues, and lectures with pure testimonies. Those who are entrusted to speak and teach in our meetings need to do so with doctrinal power that will be both heard and felt, lifting the spirits and edifying our people."