Sunday, November 11, 2012

Humility & Pride (Guest Post)

My BYU Freshman Son gave me permission to share the talk he gave in Sacrament Meeting today as a guest post. He had been asking me for a little advice not using what I thought was my best idea (perhaps he was appropriately inspired not to). I'll share it at the end so as not to detract from this excellent talk:

Good morning Brothers and Sisters, [introduces self], I am primarily from Centerville, Utah, but I used to live in New Mexico. I am majoring in physics with a minor in music, and I plan to go into acoustics. I would like to start off by sharing a quote from a talk by President Benson. It reads:
“Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion. I repeat: Pride is the great stumbling block to Zion.”
Today, I wasn’t asked to speak on pride, but on humility. Often times, it is easier to define what something is by first examining what it is not.

But before I jump into what pride is, let me share what President Benson, from his talk “Beware of Pride,” and President Uchtdorf, from his talk on “Pride and the Priesthood,” said concerning who of us are affected by pride.
“Pride affects all of us at various times and in various degrees.” (Benson)
“No one has avoided it; few overcome it.” (Uchtdorf)
Now that we know that this is affects every one of us, I hope you’ll listen to the thoughts I have gathered on this topic. I encourage all of you to re-listen and study the words of these prophets, because I don’t have forty minutes to read each of their talks to you right now, and the words that they shared are very true and powerful.

Throughout this talk I will just state the words of these great men, so remember that most of these words are not my own, but I do hope that the words which I add unto them will add to the spirit of this great message.
What is pride? “Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice.”
The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.
Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride.

Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride” which includes “self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, … self-seeking” and I would add self- righteousness to this list.
Pride is the great sin of self-elevation.
pride is the original sin, it felled Lucifer
Pride is contention
Pride is ugly. It says, “If you succeed, I am a failure.”
Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops our progression.
This list is not comprehensive, but pride has clearly been defined as a sin, which all of us are guilty of.

In the words of C. S. Lewis: 
“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”
This is what Uchtdorf has to say about pride in regards to sports:
“I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice.
Brethren, unfortunately we see today too often the same kind of attitude and behavior spill over into the public discourse of politics, ethnicity, and religion.”
In the scriptures, we read about numerous examples of pride, and in the Book of Mormon, we constantly see the cause and effects of the “pride-cycle.”  The example of King David is one of saddest in the Old Testament. David, who came from a humble background as a shepherd, slew Goliath as a boy, and later became king of Jerusalem. He prospered greatly as King, relying on the Lord to help him, but “…he (did) sin against me … in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation…” (D&C 132:39) If someone who was so valiant in his youth, and even through much of his reign as King, can fall through the great evil of pride, for in Proverbs we read, “Pride goeth before destruction.” (Prov. 16:18.), then how much more do we need to overcome pride, especially if we don’t want to be destroyed?

Pres. Benson told us that “The antidote for pride is humility—meekness, submissiveness. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit.”

In 1829, Joseph Smith Sr. “desired to know what the Lord had for him to do.” (Joseph Smith Papers) We find the revelation that his son, the prophet Joseph Smith, received on his behalf in Doctrine and Covenants Section 4.

In verse 6, it reads 
“Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.”
We often times jump to the conclusion that these and the previous verses in this section relate to just missionary work, but I believe strongly that it relates what the Lord would personally have each of us do. In order to do the Lord’s will, and bring others unto Christ, we must first bring ourselves unto Christ and the traits listed, including humility, will help us to do His work.

So what exactly is humility then, and how do we obtain it?

President Uchtdorf’s shares this beautiful insight:
When our hearts are filled with charity it is almost impossible to be lifted up in pride. “No one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love.” When we see the world around us through the lens of the pure love of Christ, we begin to understand humility.
Some suppose that humility is about beating ourselves up. Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.
Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes.
My dear brethren (and sisters), there are so many people in need whom we could be thinking about instead of ourselves. There are so many ways we could be serving. We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.
President Benson gives this:
God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma said, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” (Alma 32:16.)
Benson gives the following list of how to humble ourselves:
“We can choose to humble ourselves by conquering enmity towards each other, receiving counsel and chastisement, forgiving others, giving selfless service (which includes indexing), serving missions and preaching the gospel, going to the temple more frequently, confessing and forsaking our sins, by loving God, submitting our will to His, and putting Him first in our lives.” (Benson)
 I would like to include that self-esteem and confidence are not manifestations of pride. In regards to self-esteem, I would like to share the words of Helaman to his sons in Helaman 5:12.
“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.”
President Benson stated: 
If we love God, do His will, and fear His judgment more than men’s, we will have self-esteem
 Regarding confidence, I sometimes mistake confidence and being cocky as being the same. In D&C 121:45, it reads:
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; in the presence of God; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon the dews from heaven.”
The footnote for confidence reads “Trust in God.” If we have this kind of confidence, we will not be prideful.

King Benjamin’s speech in the Book of Mosiah is one of the most powerful sermons given on humility. I highly encourage all of you to read it. I will briefly share a small paraphrased part of his great message [Mosiah 3:19]:
“We must yield ‘to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,’ put off the prideful ‘natural man,’ become ‘a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord,’ and become ‘as a child, submissive, meek, humble.’
The great entirety of the message by King Benjamin’s brough his people to the realization of their nothingness. We must learn, as Moses did, that “man is nothing by himself but that “with God all things are possible.”. The greatness of becoming humble is that we do not become weak, but strong. As taught in Ether 12:27:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
President Uchtdorf relates this story in regards to what capacity we should be willing to humbly serve:
“I once owned a pen that I loved to use during my career as an airline captain. By simply turning the shaft, I could choose one of four colors. The pen did not complain when I wanted to use red ink instead of blue. It did not say to me, “I would rather not write after 10:00 p.m., in heavy fog, or at high altitudes.” The pen did not say, “Use me only for important documents, not for the daily mundane tasks.” With greatest reliability it performed every task I needed, no matter how important or insignificant. It was always ready to serve.”
One of the greatest humbling experiences in my life came earlier this year in my participation in the pit for the school’s musical. It was my third year in the pit. This year, the musical pit was under the direction of the band director instead of the uptight, perfectionist choir director, who would actually hire a handful of professionals to be in the pit. This year, however, the pit was made up students. I was given the challenge to play the 1st trumpet part, which was written for a professional to play. We had four trumpet players to cover the three parts so that I could manage the difficult 1st part. Two of the trumpet players, who were juniors, would often goof off during rehearsal. I allowed this to bother me a lot more than it should have. I should’ve taken my Mom’s advice and “be a duck,” meaning that I just let it brush off like water on a duck. I was more focused on having things go perfect my senior year, than enjoying the experience. I would sometimes get angry with these two trumpet players, who weren’t really causing much harm. After one of my outbursts, one of them came up to me as I was walking to my car and apologized for what I accused him of. I am extremely grateful for this, because a few weeks later, he was tragically hit and killed while walking his bike across the street in a freak accident. Thankfully, he was a strong member in our church, with an amazing family. There was such a great spirit of comfort at his funeral, and his family truly understands the great plan of happiness. I learned from his girlfriend that he was not offended by me, and that he actually thought highly of me. I made reconciliation with the other trumpet player, his best friend and also a member of our church, as soon as I saw him after the accident. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to be among so many of our faith in high school. I learned a powerful lesson through this. As Uchtdorf stated, “We have no time to become absorbed in ourselves.” We must focus on the things of God. How well the pit sounds for the musical doesn’t even matter in the long run. What does matter is our eternal salvation. I’m grateful for the example that this boy was to me. He wasn’t perfect, but he lived his life in such a way that he is of great use to our Heavenly Father on the other side.

Let us try to better ourselves and do our best to follow the perfect example of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

As stated by both President Benson and President Uchtdorf:
“Let us choose to be humble. We can do it. I know we can.”
[closed with personal testimony]

The part I suggested that he left out was the story of President Benson with a little interpretation from me. I suggested that Elder Benson learned about humility and was able to give such an inspired talk on Pride when he was President of the Church because he had learned humility as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve as he was frequently called in by the First Presidency to be counseled to tone down his political views as they were rather extremely conservative and controversial at the time. As an aside, it is interesting to note that he did not promote his political views as President of the Church.

As a final point, I only wish to note how pleased I am with my son who gave this talk (as well as with ALL my kids!)

ADDENDUM: if you like this post, check out my son's new blog at Called to the Work.


  1. Good talk! Something I definitely need to be reminded of more often than not. =)

  2. Thank you. This message was a blessing to me this morning.

  3. I once was really struggling with not feeling worthy after several trials in my life. I received an answer from a missionary farewell talk, in which this new missionary said that it is impossible to be prideful AND to be a "knowing instrument" in the hands of The Lord. He went on to say that The Lord can use our prideful actions if that is all we are willing to give him, but that if we want be God's partner, we have to be humble.

    Many times since then, I have been grateful for promptings, and the ability to see that acting on those promptings allowed me to be a "knowing instrument" in acting for the Savior, serving them as He would.

    Your son gave an important and powerful testimony!


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