For a long time there was a small part of me that wilted every time I heard someone described as “a quiet, humble person, who didn’t need to be the center of attention.” It always seemed to come with the implication that being a quiet person was a requirement for being a humble person, and since I was (and am) far from quiet there was not a description that could apply to me less. I know the deception in all this seems obvious when I state it like that, but if you think about you may realize that culturally we have learned to associate a quiet person with a humble one. I mean, you never hear someone say something like “That woman is so humble, she has the boldest testimony I’ve ever heard!” Sure, a person may be both quiet and humble, but saying one is a requirement for another is like saying that if you have questions about the gospel you must not have a testimony.
We all know that humility is a goal we should strive for, but we need to be sure we know what the word really means. Satan is incredibly happy if we spend all our time working towards a goal that we have in the wrong place.
To truly understand humility, we need to have a grasp on it’s counterpart, pride. As President Benson describes “the central feature of pride is enmity – enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen.” Or in other words “The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgement than of God’s judgement. ‘What will men think of me?’ Weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?'” (Benson, Beware of Pride, May 1989, emphasis added)
Keep that definition of pride in mind as we read Paul’s statement in his epistle to the Romans:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth”
Romans 1:16, emphases added
As we contrast Paul’s statement with the definition of pride from President Benson we can see that his very bold statement is in fact a truly humble statement. The Lord uses a similar statement to describe his people in the days that precede the Second Coming (spoiler alert: that’s where we are now!)
And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Joel 2:27, emphasis added
Once again, let’s compare that to another statement made about the Lord’s people:
God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble. Alma Said, ‘Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.’ (Alma 32:15)
(Benson, Beware of Pride, May 1989, emphasis added)
In the latter days, our days, we are described as needing to be both a humble people, and a people who are not ashamed of Christ. Being a quiet or expressive person is not a factor in the attribute of humility. A humble person is merely someone who is “confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you rely on Him.” (Preach My Gospel, p. 120, emphasis added)
The great missionary Ammon is a great example of bold humility. Before he even started preaching he and his brothers “fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God” (Alma 17:9) Ammon then headed to the land of Ishmael where he was promptly bound by the Lamanites and taken to their King. The King has power to cast Ammon into prison, or even to kill him, but when the King asks Ammon what he wants, Ammon just expresses a desire to live there. The King is so impressed with Ammon that he had his bands removed and he offered Ammon the opportunity to marry one of his daughters. Ammon says no, but that he would love to be the King’s servant. He was an excellent servant, and defended the king’s heard of sheep in a miraculous and incredibly bold fashion. He didn’t seek praise for this feat, but just went on to the next task assigned to him. The other servants were amazed and went to tell the King what had happened (with all the arms in tow). When Ammon finally came along the King wanted to know how Ammon was capable of such miraculous power. “And Ammon began to speak unto him with boldness.” (Alma 18:24, emphasis added) The King was converted because of the combination of the boldness and humility of Ammon. He did not tout his own skills or strength, nor did he cower to the king’s wishes, and when it came time to testify about Lord’s power he didn’t hold back. He was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He is not alone, the scriptures are filled to the brim with examples of humble and bold testimonies of Christ: Abinadi before King Noah, Nephi standing up to his brothers, Joseph Smith asking which church is true, and of course Jesus Christ never denying His identity and sacrificing all for it.
Their examples, and the wide variety of personalities, highlight that you can be humble and not be afraid to be yourself. You can be humble whether you are quiet or expressive. You can be humble whether you are an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in-between. You can be humble and like to speak in church. You can be humble and like to teach lessons. You can be humble and know that you are one of God’s chosen people. You can be humble and say that you are a Child of God. You can be humble and be confidant. In fact, truly humble people will have the greatest testimonies of self esteem.
Each one of us, is capable of being both bold and humble as we become more like Jesus Christ.