Viewpoint: Cultivating Habits of the Humble

Contributed By the Church News

  • 26 March 2017

Humility requires being a great listener, putting others first, asking for help, saying thank you, accepting responsibility, and accepting feedback.

Article Highlights

  • One of the greatest attributes a person can gain is the ability to submit his or her will to the truth.
  • To be one of Christ’s disciples, we are required to have the ability to change.
  • To be humble we must overcome pride and cultivate a trust in God.

“If we sincerely desire and strive to measure up to the high expectations of our Heavenly Father, He will ensure that we receive all the help we need, whether it be comforting, strengthening, or chastening.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

In a world that views humility as a weakness, especially in the business word, it was interesting to come across an article from Forbes magazine about the habits of humble people. In the 2015 article titled “13 Habits of Humble People,” author Jeff Boss said: “Humble people can receive a bad rap. Humility is frequently associated with being too passive, submissive, or insecure, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth.”

Besides being great listeners, putting others first, asking for help, saying thank you, and accepting responsibility, they also accept feedback. The article said, “Humble people are not only receptive to constructive criticism but actively seek it because they know that feedback is a pathway to improvement.”

One of the greatest tests of the human soul is to vehemently pursue a given path only to be directed by divine truth that the path is incorrect. In those moments, the soul is tested. Will a person subject his or her will to the truth or continue rebelling against the truth? The more firmly attached to a favored path we are, the harder it is to alter course.

One of the greatest attributes a person can possess in life is the ability to submit his or her will to the truth, no matter what firmly held desires, beliefs, or sins are present. The scriptures call this attribute a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

“Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me” (D&C 97:8).

To be accepted by Christ and become one of His disciples, we are required to have the ability to change. Ours is the pathway to improvement and not the quest for the pleasures of the world. We must repent. We must sacrifice our own desires for the will of God.

In a talk titled “What Lack I Yet?” from the October 2015 general conference, Elder Larry R. Lawrence, General Authority Seventy, said: “The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a ‘course of steady improvement.’ As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home.”

Blessed with a physical body, great knowledge, and tremendous spiritual power, the Lord didn’t pursue His own wants and desires. He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

“Beware of pride!” said Elder Kim B Clark, then president of BYU–Idaho, in a 2009 devotional address titled “Are Ye Stripped of Pride?” He said, “This is the warning voice of the Lord to us now, in our day. We have obtained so much control over the resources of the earth, so much understanding of the biology of life, so much capacity to travel and to communicate instantly that we have become ‘puffed up’ in our learning and our apparent control and power.

“Pride and its children—materialism, envy, arrogance, greed, thirst for recognition, and lust for control and dominion—have become rampant in our culture and society. Modern Babylon is awash in pride.”

To overcome pride in its various forms takes spiritual maturity, self-awareness, and fortitude. And sometimes it requires a wake-up call to refocus our lives.

“God uses another form of chastening or correction to guide us to a future we do not or cannot now envision but which He knows is the better way for us,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in an April 2011 conference address titled “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten.”

“If we sincerely desire and strive to measure up to the high expectations of our Heavenly Father, He will ensure that we receive all the help we need, whether it be comforting, strengthening, or chastening,” he said.

“If we are open to it, needed correction will come in many forms and from many sources. It may come in the course of our prayers as God speaks to our mind and heart through the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). It may come in the form of prayers that are answered no or differently than we had expected. Chastening may come as we study the scriptures and are reminded of deficiencies, disobedience, or simply matters neglected.

“Correction can come through others, especially those who are God-inspired to promote our happiness. Apostles, prophets, patriarchs, bishops, and others have been put into the Church today, just as anciently, ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:12).”

Elder Christofferson further warned that if we fail to follow the Lord’s correction in our lives, He will “desist.” Imagine passing through the veil to the other side and being presented with a review of one’s life on earth in which multiple opportunities for growth were given but rejected by the recipient.

A final habit that the humble cultivate is to trust in God—even when one knows the path which one must pursue might be extremely difficult to follow. When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac, it was clear what he must do. But he still had to trust in a loving God who would bless and comfort him in his grief for this tremendous sacrifice.

In an October 2014 general conference address titled “We Never Walk Alone,” President Thomas S. Monson said: “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: ‘Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good’ (D&C 90:24).”