Is Nephi Arrogant or Humble? The Underlying Confidence Necessary for Powerful Humility

To be totally honest, Nephi is not my favorite. He and I have a troubled past, but he and I are learning to work through our differences. As arrogant as I think Nephi is, there is one thing he has taught me about the awesomeness of humility. 

Soon after leaving Jerusalem, Lehi tells his sons they have to go back to the city to get the plates of brass (in other words, the scriptures) from a distant family member who is also a bit murderous. Of course, Laman and Lemuel complain and don’t think they can do it because they’re all going to die. Nephi rallies them with the story of the Lord delivering the Jews from Egypt saying, “Therefore, let us go up. Let us be strong like unto Moses…the Lord is able to deliver us even as our fathers and to destroy Laban even as the Egyptians.” There is something really awesome about how Nephi just assumes that the Lord will give him the same aid that He gave to Moses. He doesn’t see himself as less than Moses, too low in standing or worth to the children of God to receive aid. Nephi doesn’t seem to see any big difference between himself and Moses. He knows the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, if the Lord helped Moses, the Lord will help him too.  

Laman and Lemuel don’t have that attitude. Nephi seems to think that they doubt the power of God, but thinking of myself in this position, I think that they doubt they are deserving of the Lord’s help and thus forget to look for it, let alone ask for it. Later on in the story, after they do succeed in getting the plates and even see an angel, their father has a vision. Laman and Lemuel are confused by it and Nephi asks them if they asked God. Their answer is, “We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” Perhaps they have tried on previous occasions and have given up, but a part of me wonders if they didn’t ask because they thought they weren’t of the right standing. Maybe they thought their father received visions because he was a visionary man, a prophet, and because they are not prophets, they will not receive visions or revelations. They didn’t try because they didn’t think they were allowed to. 

At first glance, it might seem a bit arrogant that Nephi automatically places himself among prophets of old. Yet, I think this is actually the strength of Nephi’s humility. If we look at what Nephi does with the assumption that he is as deserving as the prophets, we see that he asks for help, a lot. He is constantly asking God what to do and where to go. He then actually does what he is told to do. 

There is something really amazing about his basic belief that the Lord will love him and help him as much as the Lord loves and helps anyone else. It isn’t that he is more deserving than his brothers, it’s that he asks for help a lot more. Nephi didn’t wait to earn a title or position before asking for help from God. He didn’t need anyone’s permission because the opinion of other men meant very little. 

I’ve learned a lot from Nephi in this regard. Even though I am not anyone with huge standing or a prominent calling doesn’t mean that the Lord loves me any less or that the Lord will help me any less. The individual answer will change, the type of help that comes will be specific to my or your situation, but the Lord will always answer the question and give aid. No special title or standing required. 

It is not arrogant to know that the Lord will answer you and help you. That’s just faith. In fact, I think this basic belief and confidence is necessary for true humility and the power that it brings. To ask for the answer and the help, most especially to accept whatever answer and help is given instead of demanding your own desire, that’s incredible humility.  

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