Keeping a journal is something that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been asked to do. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal” (President Spencer W. Kimball, "Let Us Move Forward and Upward," Ensign, May 1979, p.82).
Why is keeping a journal so stressed among Latter-day Saints? A scripture found in the Book of Mormon helps answer this question. In 2 Nephi 25:23 it says, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
Wilford Woodruff, another prophet and president of the Church faithfully kept a journal for 63 years, his entries give insight into history and the Church during his presidency. He later said that the time spent would be worth it if only for the privilege of reading it ourselves and having our children read it. Another reason given for keeping a journal is that it can help us personally when we are going through hard times.
Spencer W. Kimball said, “those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives” (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out", p.59). Elder Richard G. Scott further emphasized a journals value by stating, “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need” (Richard G. Scott, "Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge", Ensign, November 1993, p.86). As shown from these various sources, journal keeping is considered an important asset to individuals, their children, and as records for the history of the Church. President Kimball also gives the following counsel and promise:
- We renew our appeal for the keeping of individual histories and accounts of sacred experiences in our lives-answered prayers, inspiration from the Lord, administrations in our behalf, a record of the special times and events of our lives. From these records you can also appropriately draw as you relay faith-promoting stories in your family circles and discussions. Stories of inspiration from our own lives and those of our forebears as well as stories from our scriptures and our history are powerful teaching tools. I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to you individually, your husband or wife, your children, your grandchildren, and mothers throughout the generations (Spencer W. Kimball, "Therefore I Was Taught," Tambuli, Aug. 1982, p.3).
The Church has given some good journal keeping tips, which follow:
- Date each entry, sometimes telling the day of the week or even the time is also important.
- Number the pages of your journal (this should be done even if the journal is in a bound book. The reason is because binding breaks with time and pages may become loose. This will help later generations keep things organized.
- Keep the journal with you when you travel so that you can write down important events while they are fresh in your mind.
- Use first and last names when talking about people.
- Write the way you talk.
- Show rather than tell what happened.
- “Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are ‘made up’ for a public performance.... The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative” (Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals,” New Era, Dec. 1980, 26).
Some Important things to include:
- Description of yourself
- Important events
- Personal feelings
- Your testimony
- Personal counsel, promises, and blessings received and the circumstances surrounding them.
- Deaths, births, marriages, baptisms, and endowments
- Personal triumphs, failures, and struggles
- News events that influence your life
- Simple occurrences in daily life
- Humorous experiences