The meanings that are typically attached to meekness are often negative. But when I hear the Savior referring to Himself as “Meek and Lowly in Heart” it causes me to consider that perhaps my current understanding of meekness is distorted.
So what is meekness? What is true meekness? This is a question I’ve been trying to answer for a few years. My inquiry has lead me to interview others, conversations with acquaintances, and searching many talks, books, and articles all in an effort to understand true meekness.
I didn’t realize how many people were aware of my quest to understand meekness until this talk was given by David A. Bednar in April 2018 at a General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was watching the live session, and as soon as he concluded his talk I received text messages from friends, who were also watching it live, asking if I heard the talk about meekness. In fact, another friend, just last night, who after reading this talk by David A. Bednar immediately sent me a message asking me if I had read it his talk yet.
When I was young my parents took us to Mesa Verde to see the archeological cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblos. It was a captivating experience for me. Ever since then, whenever I would go on hikes I’d always keep an eye out for any kind of archeological sign of the past, arrowheads, pottery shards, petroglyphs. I never found anything but it didn’t stop me from looking, in fact, today I still look along the ground for artifacts or on the cliff walls for petroglyphs. One time, when I was hiking in the mountains just above my home I found a peculiar rock among a pile of scree. I picked it up to examine it closer. I don’t think I can articulate with words the excitement I felt when I realized that I was holding an arrowhead. After years and years of always looking, I found something. And to this day, it’s the only thing I have ever found.
I felt that same excitement again when I was listening to David A. Bednar talk about meekness. There he was, answering a question I had been seeking to understand.
He captures into words a beautiful description of what meekness is and what it is not.
David A. Bednar
Meek and Lowly in Heart
Meekness is a defining attribute of the Redeemer and is distinguished by righteous responsiveness, willing submissiveness, and strong self-restraint.
The Christlike quality of meekness often is misunderstood in our contemporary world. Meekness is strong, not weak; active, not passive; courageous, not timid; restrained, not excessive; modest, not self-aggrandizing; and gracious, not brash. A meek person is not easily provoked, pretentious, or overbearing and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others.
Whereas humility generally denotes dependence upon God and the constant need for His guidance and support, a distinguishing characteristic of meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute. Recall how Naaman, captain of the king’s army in Syria, overcame his pride and meekly accepted the advice of his servants to obey Elisha the prophet and wash in the river Jordan seven times. Meekness is the principal protection from the prideful blindness that often arises from prominence, position, power, wealth, and adulation.
Meek is what we become as disciples of the Master and not just something we do.
photo credit: National Park Services Multimedia Resources