The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

January 21, 2017

General Authorities, Humility, Meekness, Wells

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In the greatest sermon ever preached the Savior declared, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth,” to which a modern skeptic has quipped, “That would be the only way the meek would get anything!”

I use that little bit of humor to illustrate that in today’s fast-paced, success-oriented world, the quality of meekness is not universally admired. We don’t usually think of successful executives as being meek, nor can we mentally accept the idea of a successful quarterback on a winning football team being meek. In fact, success in anything seems to involve quite the opposite of meekness.

Webster’s dictionary gives two commonly accepted definitions of the word “meek”:

(1) deficient in spirit and courage, and

(2) not . . . strong.

No way do I want to be looked upon as, nor can I imagine myself as being “deficient in spirit and courage.” Those are negative attributes that I want no part of–likewise, “not . . . strong.” All my life I have tried to “be strong.” One of my favorite slogans for success is, “Plan, Simplify, and Be Strong.

In the minds of many, the term “meek” means to be submissive, passive, mild, retiring, bashful, soft, lowly, placid, etc. The mental image of a “meek” person is that of a compliant doormat, Casper Milquetoast, who is so timid and unassertive that he accomplishes nothing, does nothing, seeks nothing, and contributes nothing to the world he lives in. Is this weak interpretation of meekness really what the Savior had in mind? I do not think so. I believe there is another better interpretation of the word “meek” in Spanish. Please allow me to share it with you.

I was visiting a huge estancia (ranch) in Argentina with over 100,000 acres of lush pampa. They had 20,000 head of cattle on the ranch and over a thousand head of beautiful horses–some for the gauchos to ride, but most were thoroughbred polo ponies that they trained and sold all over the world.

In the course of the afternoon’s conversation I asked the distinguished estanciero (owner) if we would see a rodeo where the gauchos would be breaking wild horses like our western cowboys. The owner was aghast. “Not on this ranch you won’t,” was his emphatic answer. “We would never break a horse. We don’t want to break his spirit. We love them and work patiently with them and train them until they are meek or ‘manso.'” He said, “Our meek (or ‘manso’) horses are still full of fire and spirit, but they are obedient and well trained. They lose nothing of their speed or maneuverability. A polo pony has to be the finest horseflesh on the face of the earth. They are lightning fast and superbly maneuverable to follow the run-and-gun type of game that world-class polo is. The horse cannot be timid or afraid of anything, but must be obedient and superbly well trained.”

I can see a great spiritual application now to the meaning “manso” or “meek.” I don’t feel the Savior wanted us to be doormats to be walked on. I prefer to think he meant that we should be obedient and well trained. You can be strong, enthusiastic, talented, spirited, zealous, and still be “meek” by being obedient and well trained. I can seek to be that kind of a meek person and be proud to have that as my goal–obedient and well trained–and still coexist in the success-oriented world in which we live.

Elder Robert E. Wells
The Christ-Focused Beatitudes, a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 20 May 1986.

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