What Is Haughtiness?

I wrote yesterday that pride means thinking too highly of yourself, exaggerating your capabilities and minimizing your limitations. When pride leads you to treat other people with contempt, it is called haughtiness.

The words “haughty” and “haughtiness” appear six times in the Book of Mormon. Five of those occurrences are quotations from Isaiah, and they are all warnings that the haughty are in for a rude awakening:

  • “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (2 Nephi 12:11, 17, Isaiah 2:11, 17).
  • “Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,… therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion” (2 Nephi 13:16-17, Isaiah 3:16-17).
  • “The Lord of Hosts shall lop the bough with terror; and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down; and the haughty shall be humbled” (2 Nephi 20:33, Isaiah 10:33).
  • “I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible” (2 Nephi 23:11, Isaiah 13:11).

The message of these passages is clear: if you think you’re larger than life, you’re going to learn differently. What looks like permanent stature in this life can be surprisingly fleeting. Organizations can change, wealth can evaporate, and prestige can be lost far more quickly than it was gained. The things we cling to for our security and on which we base our sense of superiority are not reliable.

The sixth appearance of the word “haughtiness” in the Book of Mormon comes after the people of Limhi and the people of Alma escape from bondage and reunite with the Nephite people in the land of Zarahemla. As Alma established the church on a much larger scale than he had done previously, he and his priests established some guidelines for the behavior of church members:

There was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men;
That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself (Mosiah 27:3-4).

Haughtiness disturbs peace within a group because it results in unkind behavior. But I think it also disturbs the peace of the individual who is haughty. A sense of superiority is not conducive to contentment. It prevents you from building strong relationships with other people. It distracts your focus from the things that matter and it increases your level of stress. And as we learned from Isaiah, it is not sustainable over time.

Alma’s antidote to haughtiness is simple: learn to see the value in the people around you. Learn to see everyone as your equal.

Today, I will be careful to “let no pride nor haughtiness disturb [my] peace.” I will strive to avoid any sense of superiority over other people. I will value other people for their unique gifts and talents. I will strive to “esteem [my] neighbor as [myself].”

 

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