2 Timothy 1:7 has been a favorite scripture of mine since a Young Women's teacher shared it with me. It stuck with me because she explained it to me in a way that I could apply it to my life AND shared her testimony of that verse. President Hinckley cites the same scripture in section 4 of Gordon B. Hinckley Chapter 9: The Precious Gift of Testimony.
God does give us the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. It is why our testimonies can be such motivating and sustaining forces in our lives. It is not simply a belief, it is a way of being. Chapter 9 gives you an excellent opportunity to allow your class to put into practice what the lesson teaches while you teach it! Give your class the chance to share their testimonies throughout your lesson- whether it's an answer to one of your questions or if you ask a few people to stand in the front of the class to share.
Questions to Ponder
Some of these questions are from the manual, others are ones that I thought of- use them in your preparation, lesson, or to help you think of your own.
- How does your personal testimony contribute to the strength of the Church?
- In what ways has your testimony sustained you?
- How does your testimony influence your actions?
- What personal applications can you make from the stories in section 2?
- What can you learn from President Hinckley's teachings about obtaining a testimony in section 3?
- What experiences have helped you gain your testimony?
- How can you strengthen your testimony?
- Why does your testimony grow stronger the more you share it?
- How have you overcome your fear of sharing your testimony?
- In what ways have you been blessed by the testimonies of others?
- What have been some of the fruits of your testimony?
- What have you been motivated to do because of your testimony?
- How has your testimony changed you?
- How can you share your testimony?
- What are some things that you consider precious?
Here are some articles to study as you continue to prepare for your lesson. They should NOT replace the manual but rather help answer questions and strengthen your own testimony so that it is easy to teach with confidence and answer questions that arise during your lesson.
"Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus" by Elder Quentin L. Cook (October 2016)
"Testimony" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks (April 2008)
"Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 2014)
"Gaining a Testimony of God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost" by Elder Robert D. Hales (April 2008)
"The Power of a Strong Testimony" by Elder Richard G. Scott (October 2001)
"A Living Testimony" by President Henry B. Eyring (April 2011)
"Pure Testimony" by Elder M. Russell Ballard (October 2004)
"The Power of a Personal Testimony" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (October 2006)
I also recommend Deseret Bookshelf PLUS when you are studying. There are a ton of great audio books from prophets and others that will give you new insights for your lesson. See all the audiobooks currently available through the PLUS subscription.
"Testimony" (about 19 minutes)- This is President Hinckley's General Conference talk. You could take excerpts from it to show your class.
"Increase Your Testimony" (about 5 minutes)- About how the Spirit can help strengthen your testimony.
"Special Witness" (about 7 1/2 minutes)- President Monson shares his testimony about the Book of Mormon, the Savior, and the prophet Joseph Smith.
Member Testimonies- This page has several clips of people's testimonies. This page has even more. You could do the same thing with your ward- record a few people's testimonies (especially those that can't come to your class) and share them.
These are my ideas. My hope is that reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class.
- In my video above, I mentioned the Faith is like a Seed coloring page. I got mine from LDS Printable. I also mentioned a tree print that you can get here.
- Take this opportunity to have your class write down their testimonies. You can use this free template with pictures of the Savior or print out my free Testimony journal pages (towards the bottom of the post). I have found that writing down my testimony each month has been an excellent addition to my faith.
- In section 1, President Hinckley mentions how God "is at the helm of this His holy work." Continue this metaphor with the Old Ship Zion. Build a boat of your testimony with strips of paper on the board. Our testimonies should consist of knowing that Jesus is our Redeemer, Joseph Smith was a prophet, the priesthood is restored, and that the Book of Mormon is true (find these things in the first paragraph in section 1). Add a piece of the boat as you go through the different parts allowing others to share a short testimony of that principle as they place it up.
- Begin your lesson focusing on the worldwide aspect of the church and the differences between cultures around the world. Then ask what is one thing we all have in common- our testimonies. You can even put photos on the board to represent people from around the world or share different cultural traditions.
- Use the above scripture poster in your lesson or send it home as a handout (Print as 8x10 or 4x6). You can put it on the board, cut it up as a puzzle, or recite it together as a class.
- In section 1, the second paragraph says, "This thing we call testimony is the great strength of the Church." How can we build that strength? Use a bodybuilding example by bringing in different sized weights. Ask for several volunteers to come to the front of the class and ask them something they have a testimony about- tithing, the Word of Wisdom, the scriptures, etc. As they tell you, give them a weight to use and ask them to use it until you say otherwise. If someone gets tired before you say stop, ask who else has a testimony of that same principle and ask them to sub in. Then continue to discuss how our one simple testimony can be a strength to the Church.
- Use the story of the woman at the well to begin talking about how we can all have living water- water that sustains us always. I like what Heather Farrell points out about the way we need to approach the well in her book, "Walking with the Women of the New Testament." She says, "Like the Samaritan woman, we must hunger and thirst after that water. We must come to the well prepared with something to fill. We must make room in our hearts and in our minds for answers and new ideas. We must have faith to let down our water pot into the unknown to ask and have faith we will receive. Finally, we must have the perseverance to haul up the living water for ourselves, hand over hand, until we gain what we have been striving for." I also like Farrell's point of how this woman was willing to ask questions and find the answers. It reminds of Sheri Dew's latest book, "Worth the Wrestle." Then after her questions are answered and her testimony strengthened she shares her knowledge with the people in her town- just like how we should share ours with others. Camille Fronk Olson, also has a book that includes the woman at the well, "Women of the New Testament." This one is included as an ebook with Deseret Bookshelf PLUS.
- In section 2, President Hinckley shares several stories. Break into 4 groups, each group reading and discussing one story. You don't need to have them report but rather use this group work as a opportunity to get more people discussing and involved. If you can, assign a group leader ahead of time to come prepared to read the story and direct discussion questions. When you get back together you can ask, "How has your testimony changed you? How has it motivated you?" or "What are you willing to sacrifice because of your testimony of the gospel?"
- Share testimonies from several of the prophets- scriptural and modern day. You can play it as a game and see if your class can match the words to the prophet (put some pictures on the board to make it easier) or gather some video clips from LDS.org of some apostles and prophets sharing their testimonies.
- Read The Living Christ in your lesson and challenge your class to study it then write down their own testimony of Christ. You can print a copy to give to everyone at LDS.org or head to Prickly Pear Designs to print a free study journal and posters based on The Living Christ.