Monday, February 21, 2011

Pride and the Priesthood

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Pride and the Priesthood, by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency

As I saw the title of this talk, "Pride and the Priesthood," I thought of another P&P. I think I may be a strange husband in that I enjoy the Austen-esque films like Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes when we have an evening to share (a rarity), my wife will ask what film I would like to see, and I will pull one of our many films of this genre out of the cupboard (we even have multiple versions of some titles). She usually asks, "You really want to watch that?", and then she smiles at my sheepish grin.

Watching the effects of pride in others' lives can be painful, cathartic, or even funny, if put in the right plot line; however, recognizing pride in ourselves can be another thing entirely! While I don't remember the actual talk that President Benson gave in 1989, I did live through its aftershocks. I well remember the scorn and, well, pride shown by some whenever they heard another use the word pride in a sentence. "Beware of pride. . ." was a common reply, even in instances where the word was used entirely appropriately. President Uchtdorf noticed this, too:

For a while it almost became taboo among Church members to say that they were “proud” of their children or their country or that they took “pride” in their work. The very word pride seemed to become an outcast in our vocabulary.

President Uchtdorf listed scriptural examples showing good uses of pride. He also pointed out that "there is a difference between being proud of certain things and being prideful." The difference, he reminded, is in comparison. It seems that as soon our attitudes drift into the "therefore I'm better than. . ." area, we are flirting with being proud in a bad way.

I enjoyed the caution against pride:

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.

Realizing how dangerous pride is and can be, what can be done?

Here is the answer:

Pride is a switch that turns off priesthood power. Humility is a switch that turns it on. (See D&C 121:34-37)

The switch imagery makes it all seem so simple; perhaps it is. Here's President Uchtdorf's views on discovering humility:

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.

The final comparison to pride and humility that resonated well with me had to do with a four-color pen. This is a kind of pen he used as an airplane pilot, and it's presumably the same kind my own father used for his work when I was a small child. I well remember the magic of this pen—when one color was selected, you just had to slide the lever for another color and the first would pop inside the pen just in time for the second to descend; hours of entertainment!

President Uchtdorf used this pen as a comparison to humility in that the colors had no preference to which was used for what or how frequently. Here's what he said of his pen and the comparison pride:

With greatest reliability it performed every task I needed, no matter how important or insignificant. It was always ready to serve.

In a similar way we are tools in the hands of God. When our heart is in the right place, we do not complain that our assigned task is unworthy of our abilities. We gladly serve wherever we are asked. When we do this, the Lord can use us in ways beyond our understanding to accomplish His work.

This was a great talk with many points that I found quotable. I've gone from the works of Austen, to the outlawing of saying pride, to its burgeoning reuse, to the peril of comparison, to gateway sins, to switches, and to four-color pens. That's quite a lot for one topic. In fact, I'm pretty proud of this blog entry. Don't worry, though, I don't think I'm any better than any other blogger because of it; I'm just grateful for the ride!

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