When you were baptized you covenanted to “stand as a witness of God at all time and in all things, and in all places …” (Mosiah 18:9) This is an important covenant. It impacts many of the choices we make in life.
In this lesson – the lesson manual primarily discusses “standing up” for ones beliefs and inviting other to come unto Christ by embracing the Gospel. These are import ideas, but I feel that Standing as a Witness means much more than that. I have outlined below four addition points that can be taught to Young Women in regard to this important principle.
1. Being Authentic
To Stand as a Witness of God means that we first know who we are. Understanding that we are divine children allows us to let God’s light and love shine through us.
Discuss with the Young Women the importance of thinking about their own personal faith; their own personal thoughts and feelings. This requires quiet introspection and prayer. Explain that these will grow and change over time. Building faith, understand, and knowledge is a fluid process.
As we each explore our feelings and testimonies, we may find that they line up with what the church has taught us and/or what our parents have taught us.
For example, we may gain a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true as we read and pray about it. The story of Aaron teaching Lamoni’s father is a powerful one to share here. Alma Chapter 22.
At other times, as we explore our feelings, we may find that we have questions, doubts, or frustrations. Acknowledge these feelings and make wise decisions about how to act on these feelings.
An example from my own life. As a Young Women, I was in a strong LDS family with strict rules. Both parents had large Stake callings and many people looked to my family as an example. This frustrated me. I did not want to be held up as some sort of example to others; I just wanted to do my own thing. At the time I did a bad job of navigating my frustration and my love for my family. I wish I could have acknowledged my frustration, being true to myself – and also loved my family in positive ways, showing gratitude for God’s blessings.
Being authentic also means telling others about our faith and our testimony. Sharing the gospel as part of our life with friends and family can help us grow even more.
2. Standing up without Self-Righteousness
It is import to “stand up” for the Lord’s standards and be true to the principles that we believe in. Sometimes “standing up” makes us feel superior. Discuss with the Young Women the spiritual dangers of being self-righteous. Not only does this limit our ability to be humble and teachable, but it is not good for relationships with friends and family. People like empathy and understanding from others. Adding empathy and understanding to our convictions can help relationship grow rather than tear them down.
Joseph Smith is a good example of this. He often showed kindness and understanding – and he took time to explain his beliefs. He often educated others who did not share his beliefs. Find stories that will encourage Young Women to use this well rounded approach.
The story of Esther also shows understanding for other people’s traditions and beliefs. Esther lives her religion through fasting and prayer, but approaches the King in a way that is familiar to him. Esther Chapter 4-5.
Learn to follow the spirit and anchor faith firmly in Jesus Christ. As we learn to rely on Him and trust Him, He will help our understanding. The Holy Ghost can guide us in positive ways to interact with others.
3. Showing Courage in Obeying God
There are many commandments and Gospel principles that are either difficult to obey or hard to understand. Because of this, it takes courage to obey God – and to Stand as a Witness.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
It can be hard to trust the Lord in this way and believe that He has given us commandments that will be for our good. As Young Women grow they are eager to use their minds, to learn and to understand. It takes courage to give room to faith – and to submit our Will to the Father.
Discuss examples of commandments that may be hard to live – like the Word of Wisdom. Discuss examples of things that may be hard to understand – like – difficult church history discrepancies.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
4. Serving in Unselfish Ways
Jesus Christ is our perfect example of serving and loving others. When we Stand as a Witness, we follow this example. It is not always easy to serve people we do not like or do not understand. It is not always easy to take time away from our lives to serve. Learning to serve in unselfish ways is a positive skill for us to learn.
Share examples from Christ’s life (New Testament and 3 Nephi 11) with the Young Women. And discuss how they can follow His example.
Being steadfast and immovable also means that you keep moving forward with a “steadfastness in Christ”. 2 Nephi 31:20
“And now …. Remember, remember that it is up the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; … which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Helaman 5:12