There is No “Doctorate Of Testimony!”


Harold B. Lee had these words of wisdom. Said he:

“I read recently from a column in the Washington Post, by George Moore, who styled himself as the “hermit of Mount Vernon.” (Mount Vernon, of course, was the ancestral home of George Washington.) In this article he said, “I have spent the last twenty years of my life at Mount Vernon reducing my ignorance.” He claimed that a person never learns anything until he realizes how little he knows. In this article he makes this most illuminating observation about George Washington:

“Washington never went to school. That’s why he was an educated man, he never quit learning.”

Therein…is the challenge to all who achieve distinction in any field. Some quit learning when they graduate from a school; some quit learning about the gospel when they have completed a mission for the Church; some quit learning when they become an executive or have a prominent position in or out of the Church. Remember, as George Moore said of Washington, “We can become educated persons, regardless of our stations in life, if we never quit learning.” (April 1971, GC)

Over the years, during interviews, I have often heard repeated the lament,  “I just haven’t had the same spiritual experiences since coming home from my mission.”  It appeared to me that this person felt they had reached their pinnacle in the gospel at the young age of 21. While I understood that the mission did provide a wonderful environment for spiritual growth, I never understood how some didn’t feel they were progressing. However, upon further conversation, it was evident that many were not “creating” an environment of learning. Most were not praying on a regular basis nor reading in the scriptures or other uplifting books. They seemed to have quit learning! Somehow they had forgotten that learning is a journey. No matter how many missions you serve or letters you accumulate after your name, the message from the Lord, through living prophets is to make learning a lifetime career. A career that has no retirement!

A number of years ago, a brother quoted me in a meeting. He said that I once stated that we would never learn the mysteries of the kingdom sitting in the pews! I hope he understood that the point I was trying to make was that the strength of my testimony was gained on my knees and not from just sitting in the pews of church listening to the testimonies of others. Only after reading, pondering and contemplating the things of God did I receive the confirmation that the restored gospel is true. Sitting in the pews is wonderful for gaining support of our beliefs, but it will never substitute for the strength of testimony you gain through diligent effort and sincere prayer. I have found that answers to the hard questions of life have come during quiet moments of meditation and petition; seldom by just listening to a talk in Sacrament Meeting.

There is no diploma or “Doctorate of Testimony” because the learning never ends!  Evidence of a strong testimony is not found written on a piece of paper mounted in a frame on a wall, it is mounted in one’s personage and made known by one’s style of living! Never quit learning” is a good motto for us all. We must be willing to seek the Spirit’s counsel on a daily basis in order to keep learning. We must put forth the effort it takes if we want to learn the mysteries of the kingdom. It’s a wonderful feeling to have a strong testimony. But that strength needs to be continually fed in order for it to grow or even maintain itself.


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