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At Tuesday’s BYU Devotional, Elder Wilford W. Andersen, General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explored the human tendency to get stuck in a cycle of pride. He explained there are two ways to escape the pride cycle: we either move closer to God or toward further despair.

“However you define pride, its consequences are always the same. It alienates us from God,” Elder Andersen said.

Elder Andersen compared the pride cycle to a 12-hour clock, with twelve o’clock representing the peak of pride. A prideful person basks in compliments, crediting his or her success as self-achieved. This behavior results in a mindset of not needing God, and the individual starts to harden his or her heart against the calls of repentance from God’s servants. 

At the two o’clock mark, the individual’s attitudes and behaviors are likely to offend the Spirit of God or subtly drift from the Spirit. It’s here, according to Elder Andersen, that we often realize we are slipping away from godliness and may not be very happy. By offending the Spirit, we cut off spiritual nourishment and continue to feel miserable.

“We cling to the memories of past successes and insist on putting our trust in the arm of flesh. This is a serious mistake,” said Elder Andersen. 

At four o’clock, we fail and suffer the consequences of pride, perhaps a loss of employment or relationship, and come to the realization that we may not be as important as previously thought. 

“Failures and afflictions are not happy thoughts for any of us, but ironically, we often find that they are great blessings, because they tend to push us on around the pride cycle toward six o’clock humility,” said Elder Andersen.

Submissiveness, meekness and broken hearts thrive at six o’clock as we turn back to God and recognize that He is the source of all good things in life. 

“Meekness is not a recognition of our weakness but rather a recognition of the true source of our strength. There is nothing weak about meek,” said Elder Andersen. “When we are humble and meek, we don’t elevate ourselves, we elevate God.”

As we foster that broken heart and spirit of meekness and invite the Lord to be a part of our lives again, we begin to see blessings.

It’s in nearing the ten o’clock hour, with its spiritual and temporal blessings, that the pride cycle can begin all over again. The compliments and worldly praise may return and that is the environment where pride can take hold. 

“Without fully realizing it, we once again approach the twelve o’clock pinnacle of pride. We’re so busy looking around for accolades that we fail to look ahead at the precipitous fall that awaits us.”

Elder Andersen said that this cycle can last for years at a time or as little as a few minutes, but there’s also two opportunities to end the pride cycle.

“There are two points on the pride cycle where we can exit — one to our eternal destruction and the other to our everlasting happiness,” said Elder Andersen.

Exiting to destruction can happen at four o’clock. If we become angry and bitter toward God in our failures, we will exit toward destruction. 

However, if at ten o’clock we remember God is the source of blessings and fill our hearts with gratitude, we will exit the cycle toward lasting happiness. Elder Andersen suggested the sacrament offers us an opportunity to escape pride as we remember Christ’s sacrifice and blessings. 

“Your gratitude will inoculate you against pride and make a way for your escape from the pride cycle,” said Elder Andersen.

Next Devotional: Elder M. Russell Ballard, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The next BYU Devotional address will be given by Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 11:05 a.m., in the Marriott Center.

His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv and BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.