Lesson 42: Being Humble and Teachable

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, (1995), 170–73


Each young man will desire to be humble and teachable.


  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study Exodus 18:13–18, 21–24; Numbers 11:27–29; Matthew 18:4; James 4:10; Mosiah 11:27–28; 12:1, 9; 17:5–13; and Doctrine and Covenants 1:28; 67:10; 112:10; 136:32.

  2. 2.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Copies of the scriptures (each young man should bring his own).

    2. b.

      Picture 16, Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet (62550; Gospel Art Picture Kit 226).

    3. c.

      A pencil for each young man.

    4. d.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

  3. 3.

    Prepare for each young man a copy of the word list located at the end of the lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development

Servants of the Lord Must Be Humble

Handout activity

  • What do you think it means to be humble?

After the class members discuss this question, give each young man a copy of the word list and a pencil. Have them circle the words that describe humility and cross out those that do not. This activity should take no more than five minutes.

Explain that a humble person is meek and teachable. He recognizes that he is dependent on God and wants to submit to God’s will. He recognizes the great value of other people. Those who want to be valiant servants of the Lord must be humble.

Scriptures and discussion

Explain that Moses was an example of humility (see Numbers 12:3). He led 600,000 men, plus women and children, through the wilderness to the promised land (see Exodus 12:37). He was the prophet through whom the Lord spoke to the people. Moses could have been jealous of others who exercised priesthood powers. But instead he acted with humility when two men in the camp prophesied to the people.

Have the young men read Numbers 11:27–29.

  • What was Moses’ reaction to the two men who prophesied? (Moses did not envy those who had also received gifts from the Lord. He wanted all the Lord’s people to be blessed by the Lord’s Spirit.)

Have a young man read Exodus 18:13–18, 21–24.

  • How did Moses react when Jethro, his father-in-law, gave him instruction in how to lead the people?

Point out that Moses was over eighty years old at the time, but he was still anxious to learn. He gratefully accepted the counsel from Jethro and applied it immediately. He was teachable.

These examples show that Moses was meek and humble. There are also examples that show Moses’ courage and strength.

  • In what ways did Moses demonstrate courage and strength?

You may wish to point out two such examples. Moses courageously spoke the will of the Lord to the Pharaoh of Egypt (see Exodus 7:10, 20; 8:5–10, 29; 10:24–29). He rebuked the Lord’s people when they turned to idol worship (see Exodus 32:15–20, 30). Explain that these examples remind us that meekness does not mean that a person is weak.


Explain that Joseph Smith had qualities of kindness and humility that are identified in the following story related by William F. Cahoon, Joseph Smith’s seventeen-year-old home teacher. Ask the young men to listen and identify how both the Prophet and the young man were humble and teachable.

“I was called and ordained to act as a teacher to visit the families of the Saints. I got along very well till I found that I was obliged to call and pay a visit to the Prophet. Being young, only about seventeen years of age, I felt my weakness in visiting the Prophet and his family in the capacity of a teacher. I almost felt like shrinking from duty. Finally I went to his door and knocked, and in a minute the Prophet came to the door. I stood there trembling, and said to him:

“‘Brother Joseph, I have come to visit you in the capacity of a teacher, if it is convenient for you.’

“He said, ‘Brother William, come right in, I am glad to see you; sit down in that chair there and I will go and call my family in.’

“They soon came in and took seats. He then said, ‘Brother William, I submit myself and family into your hands,’ and then took his seat. ‘Now, Brother William,’ said he, ‘ask all the questions you feel like.’

“By this time all my fears and trembling had ceased, and I said, ‘Brother Joseph, are you trying to live your religion?’

“He answered, ‘Yes.’

“I then said, ‘Do you pray in your family?’

“He said, ‘Yes.’

“‘Do you teach your family the principles of the gospel?’

“He replied, ‘Yes, I am trying to do it.’

“‘Do you ask a blessing on your food?’

“He answered, ‘Yes.’

“‘Are you trying to live in peace and harmony with all your family?’

“He said that he was.

“I then turned to Sister Emma, his wife, and said, ‘Sister Emma, are you trying to live your religion? Do you teach your children to obey their parents? Do you try to teach them to pray?’

“To all these questions she answered, ‘Yes, I am trying to do so.’

“I then turned to Joseph and said, ‘I am now through with my questions as a teacher; and now if you have any instructions to give, I shall be happy to receive them.’

“He said, ‘God bless you, Brother William; and if you are humble and faithful, you shall have power to settle all difficulties that may come before you in the capacity of a teacher.’

“I then left a parting blessing upon him and his family, as a teacher, and took my departure” (“Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, pp. 492–93).


  • How did Joseph Smith’s behavior show that he was humble and teachable?

  • What actions showed William Cahoon’s humility?

  • What can you learn from this story about how righteous servants of the Lord should act?

Relate some examples of humility you have observed in members of the ward or branch or in other people you know.

We Must Avoid Pride


Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride. It is always considered as a sin. We are not speaking of a wholesome view of self-worth, which is best established by a close relationship with God. But we are speaking of pride as the universal sin. …

“Essentially, pride is a ‘my will’ rather than ‘thy will’ approach to life. The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness (see Alma 13:28), or teachableness. …

“Pride is characterized by ‘What do I want out of life?’ rather than by ‘What would God have me do with my life?’ It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, pp. 5–6; or Ensign, May 1986, pp. 6–7).

Scriptures and discussion

Explain that the scriptures show examples of people who were filled with pride. King Noah was filled with uncontrolled pride and selfishness (see Mosiah 11–12, 17). He was a very wicked king who felt that he was so powerful and wise that he did not need help from the Lord or the prophet Abinadi.

Have the young men read Mosiah 11:1–5, 27–28; 12:1, 9; and Mosiah 17:5–13.

  • What are some ways in which King Noah showed his pride? (He disobeyed God’s commandments. He caused great hardship to his people in order to support his sinful lifestyle. He would not believe the words of the Lord’s prophet and finally had the prophet killed.)

  • How do King Noah’s actions match President Benson’s description of pride?

Point out that since King Noah and his people were unwilling to humble themselves, they were taken into bondage by the Lamanites, and King Noah died by fire (see Mosiah 19).

  • In what ways do we sometimes show that we have unrighteous pride?

Encourage the young men to discuss this question. They may mention such things as disobeying God’s commandments, feeling that we know better than God what to do with our lives, refusing to repent of our sins, thinking we are better than other people, and treating them badly.

Being Humble Brings Great Blessings

Picture discussion

Display picture 16, Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet (see John 13:3–9).

  • How does this picture show Christ’s humility?

Scriptures and discussion

Explain that some of the Lord’s greatest promises are given to those who are humble. Assign each young man one of the following scriptures to locate and read to himself. Then read aloud the following promises and have the young men identify which scripture describes each promise. Have the verses read to the entire class. If there are more than six young men, assign each scripture to several young men.


  1. 1.

    If we are humble, the Lord will guide us and answer our prayers.

  2. 2.

    If we are humble, we can be made strong and receive knowledge.

  3. 3.

    If we are humble, the Lord lifts us up.

  4. 4.

    If we are humble, we can learn wisdom and our eyes will be opened.

  5. 5.

    If we are humble, we shall see and know the Lord.

  6. 6.

    If we are humble, we can be great in the kingdom of heaven.



Give the young men the following challenges:

  1. 1.

    Watch for acts of humility by other people, particularly among members of your own family.

  2. 2.

    Evaluate your behavior and watch for times when you can sincerely be humble and teachable.