Pride vs. Humility: Are You Looking Sideways or Looking Up?

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Pride vs. Humility: Are You Looking Sideways or Looking Up?

Humility is knowing we’ll always come up short but having confidence that we’ll still make it with the help of our Savior.


Camping is not my thing.

Which is why everyone who knew me was surprised when I, along with a good friend, signed up for a weekend camping trip to Colorado, USA, with a bunch of strangers for no reason other than that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and feel a little more adventurous.

It was about 3 a.m. the first night when it started pouring rain. I stared up at the paper-thin walls of my tent, mentally begging them to keep me dry and sincerely regretting my decision to come. I spent the rest of the trip enjoying the views but mostly trying not to embarrass myself; I was less outdoorsy than most of the people I was traveling with, and I worried constantly that I would look incompetent.

On the final night of the trip, my friend and I ventured outside to try to enjoy the nature that we’d traveled so far to see. As we stood outside our tent, my friend surprised me with her astronomy knowledge, pointing out Taurus, the Pleiades, and Cassiopeia, tracing her finger along the sky as she told me stories about the clusters of stars. It was a beautiful, peaceful moment.

The longer we stood there, heads tipped back, the more I forgot about my own discomfort. Looking up at the vast, starry sky was humbling. For probably the first time during that trip, I was able to fully appreciate something beautiful instead of worrying about myself and getting caught up in my own silly pride.

Pride vs. Humility

As disciples of Christ, we’re often taught to be wary of pride—the kind of pride that focuses on the individual and often comes at the expense of others. It’s the kind of pride that President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) described when he said:

“Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. …

“… It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God.”1

Humility, on the other hand, is knowing that we’re imperfect and trusting that the Lord can perfect us. It’s knowing we’ll always come up short on our own but having confidence that we’ll make it with the help of our Savior. It’s being happy with our progress, knowing that we’re headed in the right direction.

As Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “Humility isn’t some grand identifiable achievement or even overcoming some major challenge. … It is having the quiet confidence that day by day and hour by hour we can rely on the Lord, serve Him, and achieve His purposes.”2

Embracing Humility

I felt the difference between these two feelings on that camping trip. For the majority of the trip, I was self-absorbed, worried about how I looked and smelled and how comfortable I was. But there was a brief moment, during that evening under the stars, when I was able to look outside myself and realize that there is so much more to living in this miraculously beautiful world than what I was experiencing.

That night, I learned to look up when I wanted to stop thinking about myself, and that’s proven to be a pretty effective antidote to pride. As the famed Christian writer C. S. Lewis explained: “In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. … As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”3

That trip didn’t change my mind about camping—it’s still not my thing. But I’m grateful that I learned an important lesson about “walk[ing] humbly” (Doctrine and Covenants 11:12) that night, because it taught me something that I not only needed on that trip but will need for the rest of my life. It’s normal to struggle with pride—it’s an inherent part of our mortal experience. But acknowledging it in ourselves and working to overcome it by seeking humility can bring us closer to Christ and help us live happier lives.