Latter-day Counsel


Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)

The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109-10.) President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1989

When guiding your teenagers in their choices of activities, help them avoid activities that emphasize competitiveness, single dating, or undue concentration on athletic prowess or superficial beauty. Teachng Adolescents

Compare the world in which we live with ancient Jerusalem and with Sodom and Gomorrah. Our world is filled with abundance and pride and haughtiness. Many people today are filled with so much pride and arrogance that it becomes almost impossible to reason with them. Hate has become so contagious among nations and individuals that reconciliation seems an impossible goal. Elder Theodore M. Burton, Ensign, March 1971

Some of us become eminently successful in our careers by viewing life as an intense competition, a “zero-sum” game in which anyone else’s gain is seen as our loss. We begrudge others’ successes rather than feeling joy in them. In order to get ahead, we may also be tempted to resort to “organization politics”—manipulating others, controlling scarce information, distorting feedback, sabotaging someone else’s plans, exchanging favors for personal gain, and subverting authority. Cultivating a competitive personality may bring success in the business or athletic world. But it can also take its toll in our personal lives, making us manipulative marriage partners, friends, and coworkers in the Church.

I reject the idea, widely accepted in some business arenas, that unbridled competitiveness is healthy, even desirable. It is my understanding that the gospel calls for this rejection also. Too often organizations and their managers seem to be motivated by survival rather than morality. Getting to the top through ruthless power struggles, it seems to me, is inappropriate behavior for anyone, but especially for Latter-day Saints.

But many overachievers pay for their success with damaged health, a narrow range of interests, loss of contact with spouse and children, even divorce. Robert H. Daines, Ensign, January 1985

“Whatever thing a man sets his heart and his trust in most [sports?] is his god; and if his god doesn’t also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that man is laboring in idolatry.” President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, June 1976

But for some reason the honor of sportsmanship seems the farthest thing from the minds of many participants. Hardly a game goes by that I don’t see acts of aggression, verbal taunts, and disrespectful gestures by players, coaches, and fans alike. What forces transform the worthwhile purposes of athletic competition into the short-lived thrill of winning? New Era, May 1992

“Losers learn by losing and winners win by winning. It’s important to win, because someone is keeping score. But … the only [truly] important things in life to win are surgery and war.” Al McGuire, former basketball coach at Marquette University