Thoughts and Quotes on Humility: My Sunday Talk

On Sunday, I spoke in Sacrament Meeting (our main meeting at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) on the topic of humility. I thought I'd share my thoughts here, as well.

President Hinckley said, “There is no place for arrogance in our lives. There is no place for conceit in our lives. There is no place for egotism in our lives. We have work to do. We have things to accomplish. 
·         (Then he quoted Doctrine and Covenants 112:10) ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers’.
·         (Pres. Hinckley goes on…)People ask me what is my favorite scripture, and I say I have many of them. But that is one of them. ‘Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.’
After reading many quotes and scriptures about humility, I concluded that it is essentially this: Humility is giving our will over to the Lord. It is putting our faith, trust, and confidence in the Lord. It is believing that everyone on this earth is a Child of God and knowing that our Heavenly Father’s will is ALWAYS best.
English author John Ruskin said, “The first test of a truly great man is his humility. Really great men have a curious feeling that greatness is not IN them, but THROUGH them. And they see something Divine in every other man.”
This quote reminds me of one of my favorite LDS songs. It is “A Window to His Love”.
A Window To His Love
Words and Music by Julie de Azevedo

I want to be a window to His love,
so when you look at me you will see Him.
I want to be so pure and clear that you won't even know I'm here,
'cause His love will shine brightly through me.

I want to be a doorway to the truth,
so when you walk beyond you will find Him.
I want to stand so straight and tall, that you won't notice me at all.
But through my open door He will be seen.

I want to be a window to His love,
so you can look through me and you'll see Him.
And some day shining through my face, you'll see His loving countenance,
'cause I will have become like He is

A window to His love
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message He'd have me bring to you.
And with each passing year
I want to disappear
'Till He's become ev'rything
and I've become a window to His love.
One of the great stories of humility in the scriptures can be found in 1 Kings 17. This is the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath.
·         The Lord told Elijah to go to the city of Zarephath where He had commanded a widow woman to provide food and water for him.
·         He found the widow there and asked her for a drink.
·         Verse 11, “And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.”
·         Verse 12, “And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
·         Verse 13, “And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: But make me thereof a little cake FIRST, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.”
·         As a mother, this story speaks to me. Put yourself in the position of this widow. I see her pleading with Heavenly Father. I see her praying fervently for a way to be able to feed herself and her son and live.
·         A stranger comes. A prophet. And the Lord commands her to sustain him. This prophet, Elijah, asks that she make him a cake first. I picture her watching the prophet eat in front of her starving son. THIS IS THE DEPTHS OF HUMILITY. She turned her will over to the Lord, trusting that it was best.
·         Verse 15, “And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail.”
·         Remember the scripture I read earlier. We are told that if we humble ourselves, THE LORD WILL LEAD US BY THE HAND AND ANSWER OUR PRAYERS.
 C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. 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.”
Again, this illustrates that we are prideful when we are placing the focus on ourselves…and humble when we place our focus on others, especially the Lord.
Story of one of my ancestors, Ellen Breakel Neibaur:
  • Ellen Breakel was a wealthy farmer’s daughter in England. She married Alexander Neibaur, who was also very wealthy. They joined the church in England and decided to join the Saints in America. They left almost everything they had.
·         Circumstances became very difficult for them as they crossed the plains. They could not afford shoes for everyone in the family, so Ellen crossed the plains with her feet wrapped in rags.
·         After their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, the family, consisting of 7 children along with father and mother, lived in a tent. They often went hungry.
·         When they got settled and began to make a little money, Alexander bought his wife a nice pair of shoes and then she knitted herself some stockings that were blue and white stripped. She was very proud of them and thought they were very pretty.
·         A short time later, the Brethren came around collecting clothing to take back with them to meet another company of pioneers, and when they came to the house, Alexander said he had nothing to give them, but Ellen answered, "yes, we must give something,"
·         and she took them from her feet, the pair of new shoes and stockings, and gave them to the Brethren, binding her own feet in rags.
·         This story reminds me of the quote by President Bensen, “Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.” Circumstances forced Ellen Breakel Neibaur to be humble at first. They simply could not afford shoes for everyone. But, when she willingly gave up her new shoes and stockings, removing them from her feet, she CHOSE to be humble.
·         She chose to be humble, then came the great blessing: The story says that when the next group of pioneers arrived, everyone went out to greet them. Everyone was looking at their faces, except Ellen who was scanning all the feet in the crowd. She spotted her beloved shoes. And looked up to find that the woman who got them was one of her dearest friends from England. The friend converted to the Church after Ellen left. So that must have been a glorious surprise.

Once we have mastered a humble feeling, what does humility look like? 
·         In the movie version of Emma by Jane Austen, there is a character named Mrs. Elton. Her comments may appear humble. When a man says to her, “These sandwiches are delicious, Mrs Elton. You really are a gourmet!”, Mrs. Elton responds, “Well, I never compliment myself, but my friends tell me I 
certinly know how to make a sandwich.” Several times in the movie, she uses the phrase, “my friends say…” to give herself a compliment. 
·         Does this portray true humility? True humility is taking the attention off yourself, thus glorifying God and serving your fellow man.
·         Our prophet, President Monson, is a good example of true humility. He is in a powerful position. I wouldn’t call him weak at all. There is a big difference between weakness and humility. He does great things, mostly in the form of service, but he doesn’t do them to draw attention to himself.

Please think about the answers to these questions from Alma 5: 26-28,
·         “Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?
·         Are ye stripped of pride?
·         If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing a song of redeeming love, I would ask, CAN YE FEEL SO NOW?”

Finally, I can’t give a proper talk on humility without mentioning our Savior, Jesus Christ. He shows us that humility isn’t weakness. It is acknowledging the Father’s will and putting it before our own.
·         We are actually stronger when we are humble because we are acting WITH GOD, NOT ALONE.
·         Perhaps the most sacred words ever spoken were the words the Lord spake in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Luke 22:42, “If thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”


  1. Wonderful talk Emily! I loved your pioneer story - how inspiring!

  2. Wanted to take a moment to say thanks for this post and tell you I am enjoying your blog. I plan on visiting often.