Humility is a word we hear a lot about, but do we really understand what it is? I don’t believe I did until one morning years ago when I saw humility in a hotel lobby. I was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City. From my soft chair I observed with great interest the comings and goings of people through the front door of the hotel. The longer I sat there, the more crowded the lobby became. People were dodging in and out, bumping into each other in their haste, then exchanging irritated glances as they hurried on. I couldn’t help thinking how unconcerned we are for others as we move about in our individual pursuits.
The very next person who came to the door of the hotel provided a real contrast. Elder George Q. Morris of the Quorum of the Twelve, a man in his 80s, reached for the door and held it open for several minutes while others hurried through without so much as a nod of thanks. When there was no one else waiting, he walked into the lobby. He removed his hat and nearly had it knocked out of his hands by a young woman who was in too big a hurry to even notice whom she had bumped into.
I watched Elder Morris for at least six or seven minutes as he made his way across the lobby, always stepping aside for others, at the same time expressing a “Pardon me” or “Excuse me, you go first.” Several times he stopped completely while others rushed by. If people were in his way, he would wait patiently until they stepped aside or moved on without ever realizing he was waiting to get by.
I am sure there was no one in that lobby with a busier schedule or more on his mind than Elder Morris. I have thought since that it would have been more appropriate (if less true to life) had everyone stepped aside for an apostle of the Lord.
Some of the true marks of humility—kindness, consideration for others, and an awareness of their aims and needs—are often forgotten in our involved pursuits. I have always appreciated more deeply those who manifest the little kindnesses since seeing humility in a hotel lobby.
Elder George Quayle Morris became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1954 at the age of 80. In his long and fruitful life he had already served as an Assistant to the Twelve, fulfilled a mission to the British Isles, been president of the Eastern States Mission, and served for 24 years on the General Board of the YMMIA as both assistant superintendent and general superintendent. When he died in 1962, President McKay said of him, “Our departed brother was one of those great unselfish souls who forget themselves for others and win immortality.”