Tip on Talks and Lessons #5B: Personal Experience Caveats

            “It is admitted that statements of personal experience, spoken or written, carry more force and make a more lasting impression upon the minds of the hearers and readers than can be made any other way.” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 265)

There is power is sharing personal experiences during talks and lessons. Using personal experiences is appropriate and encouraged.  However, there are some cautions.

  1. Keep the experience brief and on point.

The experience should be used to teach a gospel principle, not to just entertain. Tie the experience to the scriptures and the Savior’s atonement. Your students are gathered to be “nourished by the good word of God.” (Moro 6:4)

Get to the point.  Avoid meandering. Leave out irrelevant time-consuming extraneous details.  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

2. Don’t stretch the truth.

            To make a story more dramatic or emotional, it may be tempting to alter or exaggerate some details of what actually happened, like the proverbial “fish story.”. Don’t do it. It repels the spirit and undermines your credibility.

3. Avoid making yourself the hero of your stories.

            Your students get the wrong impression of why you are telling stories about yourself if you always make yourself out to be a hero or “better than thou.” Don’t brag. “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand” (D&C 112:10).

5. Be cautious about sharing sacred personal spiritual experiences.

            Some things are just too personal and sacred to discuss in a class. Such experiences should not be shared. They should be “harbored and protected and regarded with the deepest reverence” (Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently [1975], 71).

            Personal experiences like miracles, tender mercies, and blessings can often be used.  However, personal revelations, dreams, visions, visitations are usually too personal and sacred to share publicly.


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