Shall the Ax Boast Itself? – 2 Nephi 20:12-15

12 Wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
13 For he saith: By the strength of my hand and by my wisdom I have done these things; for I am prudent; and I have moved the borders of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man; 
14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs that are left have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
15 Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!
Here’s a great reason to avoid boasting: because we don’t know what part of our accomplishments we can actually take credit for.  When we set a goal and accomplish it, our natural response is to think, “Wow! Look what I did.  Am I awesome or what?”  But as commencement speakers nearly always remind graduating seniors, you didn’t do this on your own.  Without the help of those around you, without the advantages given to you by your community and by your family, none of this would have been possible.  Therefore, a sense of gratitude and humility is always in order.
I love the advice James E. Faust gave to Dieter F. Uchtdorf when he was called as a General Authority of the Church.  He said that the members of the Church would be very kind and would say nice things about him.  Then he laughed and said “Dieter, be thankful for this. But don’t you ever inhale it.”  (“Pride and the Priesthood“, General Conference, October 2010)
I also love King Benjamin’s reminder that God supports us in real time, “by lending [us] breath, that [we] may live and move and do according to [our] own will.”  And if we accept the fact that basic processes such as breathing are largely involuntary, then we might ask ourselves the question Benjamin asks next: “Therefore, of what have ye to boast?” (Mosiah 2:21, 24)
Today, I will intentionally mute my exuberance when I accomplish something, recognizing that many factors have contributed to my success and that I cannot claim full credit for it.
What do you think we can do to keep our accomplishments in perspective and to avoid letting success go to our heads?

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