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Meekness Matters!

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

As I was finishing my early morning run on the treadmill at my local fitness center, I heard a voice ask, "Do you want to join a basketball game?" I turned my head and saw a familiar face--a friend I had made when I played games of pickup with a group who regularly played in the morning. 'We need one more, and we'd love to have you," he said. "Sure!" I replied.


I joined their group and was put on a team with two guys I knew and two that I didn't. As we warmed up, one young man stood out. We were amazed at his basketball skills once the game started. He effortlessly drove to the basket, weaving between other players with ease. His long and his short jump shots were rarely missed. When he finally dunked the ball on a fast breakaway, we all stood in amazement at how gracefully and forcefully he went to the rim.


Not only was he the most skilled player on the court, he was also the most patient and pleasant person on the court. When someone fouled him hard or ran into him, he didn't get angry. He just patted them on the shoulder, smiled, and said, "No worries!"


Between games, I asked this young man about his Notre Dame shirt. He told me that he had played football and basketball on a scholarship for them and had also played on a semi-pro basketball team in the Dallas area. No wonder he was so good!


The impressive part about playing on his team wasn't watching his exceptional basketball skills. He could obviously score at will among all of us amateur players. However, the most impressive thing was that he didn't want to score at will. In addition to being the most skilled player on the court, he was also the most supportive and encouraging teammate on the court.


I am not a basketball player; I am a marathon runner. So, my shots and ball handling are not graceful or consistent. Yet, this young man would regularly throw me the ball when I was open and say, "Take that shot!" When I missed, he would say, "You got this. You can't find it if you don't shoot it." Even when he had a better opportunity to score, he would get me the ball if I was open and say the same thing, "You can't find it if you don't shoot it."


Eventually, I started making my shots, including the winning shot in one game. He was right. Because of him, I found my shot! He did the same thing for other players on our team. He never overtly brought attention to himself, but he ensured that our team played together and that everyone could contribute and improve. Because of his positive influence, our team went 3-0. We won all our games.


As I left the gym that morning, I thought about my new friend. Here was a young man of strength, vigor, and skill. Yet, he was more interested in the team than himself. He kept his power in check and used his talent to make others better. We won not because of what we did through him but because of what he did through us.


What made him so special? As I pondered that question, the inspired answer came. He was meek! Meekness was his strength.


In our book, Discovering Your Temple Insights, we discuss Christ-like attributes. The Savior said, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowing in heart" (Matt. 11:29). So, to become like Him, we must learn meekness. Because the temple is His house, it is a model of His meekness. There, through sacred ordinances, we learn of Him.


What is meekness? It is perhaps different than is commonly thought. Most associate the term with being timid or weak, but this definition isn't how the word was originally used.


One scholar revealed that the original Greek word, πραυτησ, which was translated into English as “meek,” was originally thought of as “discipline that controls power." [1] He taught that ancient military leaders used this word to describe powerful war horses, where confidence and constraint were necessary to harness and use the horse’s physical might at the right time and circumstances.


Meekness does not connote timidity, helplessness or mediocrity but strength, power, and endurance tempered by gentleness, judgement, and discernment.


Jesus was perfectly meek. He was gentle and kind to all. But He was also powerful and strong. He could tenderly heal a leper and a blind man but also cast money changers out of the temple and call the Pharisees hypocrites.


When I think of my basketball friend, these traits define him. He was physically mighty, yet he only used that physicality when he needed it. Even better, he brought his teammates' physical might to a higher level. And he did all of this with a pleasant and kindly approach. He was meek.


In our book, we summarized the meek this way:


The meek are gentle, kind, and submissive, and they are simultaneously strong, powerful, and resilient. They have a perfect balance of gentleness and strength, of kindness and confidence, and of patience and power. They are temperate but teeming with energy.


They manage and objectively control personal or organizational authority with concerted discernment and perfect confidence of when, where, and how this power should be used and why. They exhibit self-control of carnal passions, righteous indignation, and instinctive retorts, even amid temptations, trials, and persecutions. [2]


Meekness matters, not just in basketball but in life. It matters because it lifts others. It lifts us. It lifts the world. To be meek is to be like Christ.


I witnessed meekness in action that morning on the basketball court. That young man told me he went to Notre Dame because he believed in Christ. I would say he left Notre Dame as an exemplar of Christ. He had learned of Him and had become more like Him. And that's what each disciple of Jesus Christ desires to do.


Notes:

[1] David Molyneaux, “‘Blessed Are the Meek, for They Shall Inherit the Earth’An Aspiration Applicable to Business?” Journal of Business Ethics (Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003), 48:359–360.

[2] Aaron and Julie Bujnowski, Discovering Your Temple Insights (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, 2023), 72-73.



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