Meekness

“What of the meek? In a world too preoccupied with winning
through intimidation and seeking to be number one, no large
crowd of folk is standing in line to buy books that call for
mere meekness. But the meek shall inherit the earth, a pretty impressive
corporate takeover—and done without intimidation!
--President Howard W. Hunter[1]

Every married couple should be committed to growth in their marriage. It is not enough to treasure the good days and ignore the bad ones. We must be striving for constant improvement. One way for couples to enhance their marriages is to incorporate Christlike virtues into their relationship, such as kindness, charity, humility, and forgiveness. One Christlike attribute that can make a significant difference towards the joy and satisfaction in all marriages is often overlooked—that of meekness.

From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” According to the Greek translation found in footnote 5a, we learn that meekness implies gentleness, forgiveness, and benevolence. Put another way, the gentle, the kind, and the forgiving will one day inherit this earth when it becomes the Celestial Kingdom. The meek are those who are at peace; they seem to be able to endure harsh words, incivility, unfairness, and injustice. The meek do not seek to retaliate—they seek to understand and to heal. Elder Bruce R. McConkie further explained, “The meek are the god fearing and the righteous. They are the ones who willingly conform to the gospel standards, thus submitting their wills to the will of the Lord. They are not the fearful, the spiritless, the timid. Rather, the most forceful, dynamic personality who ever lived—He who drove the money changers from the temple…..said of Himself, ‘I am meek and lowly in heart.’”[2] Thus, meekness is not weakness. Instead, meek is strength, power, and self-control.

Consider the following example of meekness:

A Church leader once toured a facility that housed a huge hydraulic crushing machine that could reduce old cars into small cubes. For a demonstration, the guide asked the man to remove his watch. The operator then placed it in the machine and adjusted the controls, and the top blade came crashing down, stopping just a millimeter above the watch. Next the sides slammed together, but once again they stopped just shy of the crystal. Then the operator removed the watch and returned it unscratched. Much pleased with the demonstration, this good man turned to those with him and said, “We have just witnessed the greatest demonstration of meekness I have ever seen. Meekness is great power under complete control.”[3]

Thus, meekness isn’t being powerless, weak, or even wimpy. Instead, meekness implies self-control and self-discipline. The meek individual can control their tongue, as well as their passions. For example, President Harold B. Lee shared that “a meek man is defined as one who is not easily provoked or irritated and forbearing under injury or annoyance….The meek man is the strong, the mighty, the man of complete self-mastery. He is the one who has the courage of his moral convictions, despite the pressure of the [group]. He is humble minded; he does not bluster…..He is the ‘salt’ of the earth and shall inherit it.”[4] Elder Neal A. Maxwell added that meekness “involves shoulder-squaring self-discipline, and what follows is the special composure that meekness brings.”[5] Therefore, to be meek then is to be in control, competent, composed, and confident.

What would be the single attribute that would help us become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ? Kindness? Charity? Love? Faithfulness? Elder Alexander B. Morrison suggested that the most critical attribute in helping us become Christlike is meekness. He said, “I submit that perhaps the most Christlike of all attributes of character is that of meekness, or in other words, humble submissiveness.”[6] Therefore, meekness is simply not a nice quality to have. To become meek is critical to our salvation and exaltation. In fact, Moroni taught, “none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart” (Moroni 7:43-44). To develop this incredible quality could take some time and effort, but just think how our spouses and children would benefit by our own quest for meekness.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that meekness “is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control.”[7] Yes, to be meek is to be humble; to be meek is to be teachable, but perhaps more importantly, to be meek is to exercise complete self control. Moreover, to be meek is to be gentle. Those who preside and lead in meekness do so as the Savior did—be tending, protecting, and nurturing they flock.[8] The meek do not raise their voices; they do not lead by shouting or shoving—the lead by example, and they lead by love.

Of all the attributes that would bless a marriage, perhaps meekness even outranks charity and kindness. For example, a spouse who practices meekness “exercises poise under provocation, demonstrates emotional control, displays pious gentleness in nature, and is tame and well mannered.”[9] Imagine how these attributes would bless and strengthen a marriage.



[1] President Howard W. Hunter, Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 266.

[2] Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 474.

[3] S. Michael Wilcox, “The Beatitudes—Pathway to the Savior,” Ensign, January 1991, 19-21; emphasis added.

[4] Elder Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 203; emphasis added.

[5] Neal A. Maxwell, Meek and Lowly (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987), 15.

[6] Elder Alexander B. Morrison, Zion: A Light in Darkness, 18.

[7] Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Meekness: A Dimension of True Discipleship,” Ensign, March 1983.

[8] See Matthew 2:6, footnote d.

[9] Robert L. Millet, Men of Influence, Need Page