Accounting Faculty Member
Todd Blanchard was born and raised on a small ranch in Chester, Idaho. He served a mission in the Paraguay Asuncion mission and then earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Accounting from Brigham Young University. He worked as a Certified Public Accountant for seven years before coming to teach at BYU-Idaho 21 years ago.
Brother Blanchard and his wife, Carol, have been married for over 30 years. They have five children and are expecting their fourth grandchild.
Please respond to the question below on the devotional discussion board:
When Mary received the news that she was to be the earthly mother of the Savior of the world, she responded with a humble, yet incredibly powerful statement: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy will.” (Luke 1:38) What do we learn of Mary’s character by studying this powerful statement? How was her life blessed? And, what other similar examples, either from the scriptures or from your own lives, can you share that illustrate similar character traits and blessings that came from such a willingness to follow the path the Lord lays out for us?
One of my heroes in the scriptures is Mary. When she received the news from the angel Gabriel that she would be the earthly mother of the Savior of the world, I imagine she had a lot of doubts and fears. She probably had different plans for her life. She responded with an incredibly powerful statement: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” This humble response to an incredibly challenging assignment inspires me. Many of you shared your thoughts about Mary on the devotional discussion board this week. Some of the words you used to describe her were “faithful,” “willing,” “trusting,” “strong,” “obedient,” “prepared,” and “courageous.” The most common word to describe her was “humble,” which indeed appears to be one of her biggest strengths.
Unfortunately, we don’t often include humility when making a list of the virtues of our heroes. In fact, humility is often seen as a weakness, probably because it is often misunderstood. Humility is not a lack of confidence and self-esteem. It doesn’t mean you let everyone walk all over you. Being meek does not mean being weak. As described in Preach My Gospel, “Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It includes gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgement of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength.” The virtue of humility embodies a willingness to acknowledge that we are imperfect and need to change. It also contains a willingness to work at making changes and an understanding that, with the help of the atoning power of our Savior, we can change. I think of the incredible amount of faith, courage, and strength Mary demonstrated when she gave her response to the angel Gabriel. She and the world were greatly blessed by her humility.
We read in the book of Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes.” In her devotional address two weeks ago, Sister Lisa L. Harkness advised us to follow the counsel in Joshua to “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” It takes a lot of courage and faith to choose to follow the path the Lord has prepared for us rather than our own, often easier path. The Lord knows what is best for us. If we have enough humility and faith in the Lord to trust Him, He can work miracles in our lives, even with our sometimes weak and imperfect efforts.
Of course, our Savior is the perfect example. When faced with the daunting challenge of suffering in the Garden of Gethsemanee and on the cross, He said, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” If anyone in the world had earned the privilege to do things his own way, it was the Savior. He, however, humbled Himself before the Father and did as the Father wanted Him to do. Think of how we have all been blessed by the humility of our Savior.
I’ve done some coaching of Little League teams over the years. I observed that the best players typically had three key characteristics that helped them achieve their full athletic potential: a little talent, a humble attitude that makes them coachable, and a willingness to work hard. We all need the same three things to achieve our full spiritual potential. We all have the talent. We have all been given spiritual gifts, and we have inherited eternal potential from Heavenly Parents. If we combine that talent with humility and hard work, the Savior will help us and work miracles in our lives.
One major issue that keeps us from humbly following the Lord’s path is pride. When we are proud, “we put greater trust in [ourselves] than in God. . . . Pride usually results in feelings of anger and hatred.” Much of the world now seems to be such an angry place. Pride is a major source of this anger. Some false teachings also contribute to anger. The world seems to be teaching us that we can’t change; we can’t improve ourselves or any of our situations or relationships; we don’t need to change; it’s always someone else’s fault; we can’t be happy until they change. These are false teachings. It’s easy to see why someone who believes these gloomy messages would be angry. These messages make it seem like we have no control over our lives, that we can’t change, and that the only way for us to be happy is for everyone else around us to change. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is one of hope. Because of Jesus Christ, we can change. We can improve. We can overcome weaknesses and trials and challenges and temptations. We have the power to make a difference. We can get better and be happier.
For some, humility comes naturally. For others, it takes more work. Like all spiritual gifts and talents, we can obtain more humility in our lives if we desire it, ask for it, listen for the instructions we will receive from the Lord, and then work hard to do our best. There are two important questions found in the New Testament that will help us overcome pride and obtain more humility in our lives.
The first question is found in the story of the rich, young man who asked Christ what he needed to do to inherit the celestial kingdom. After Christ responded that he should obey the commandments, the young man claimed to have done that since his birth. He then asked, “What lack I yet?” The young man then became sorrowful because he couldn’t bring himself to do what Christ asked of him, but the question he asked is a good one, one that we should be asking ourselves and the Lord: “What lack I yet?”
Quite often the answer we receive from the Lord will be some sort of change in our lives that encourages us to adapt, learn, grow, and maybe even repent. It quite often will require us to do something that we are not good at and really don’t want to do, like speak at devotional. We often need new experiences to teach us new lessons. These changes can be very difficult. Most of us don’t look forward to change or respond well to change, but we all have work to do, and that will typically require change. We are all blessed with agency to chart the course of our lives, but we should always keep in mind that the Lord knows what is best for us, and it is best to seek His guidance and do what He asks us to do.
The second important question we should ask ourselves is illustrated in the New Testament when Christ advised His apostles that one of them would betray Him. It would have been very easy for them to start pointing fingers. Instead, they responded with the humble question “Lord, is it I?” When we face a situation that is not going well, our natural inclination is to blame those around us. We think that if everyone around us would change, then everything would turn out all right, and we would be happy. We are sometimes slow to question our own actions and opinions, but the apostles were quick to think about what they could do differently.
We seem to be much better at recognizing weaknesses and character flaws in others than we are in ourselves. I am suggesting a better thing to do is to first ask ourselves and the Lord, “Is it I?” Most of the time, I think the answer will be yes, we can change and improve. So, when we are having trouble in our marriage, instead of blaming our spouse, let’s first ask, “Is it I?” When we have contention in our families, at work, at school, or in any setting, instead of jumping quickly to blame others and demand that they change, let’s first ask, “Is it I?” Is there something I can do to change and improve this relationship or situation? Just imagine how much better all the relationships in our lives would be if we would all be humble enough to ask ourselves what we can do better instead of expecting everyone around us to change to meet our demands. A little self-awareness and introspection can go a long way toward improvement.
We receive great advice in the book of James. He wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Might I add to this counsel. Let us be swift to listen, swift to understand, swift to think, and swift to love. Let us be slow to take offense, slow to blame, slow to judge, and slow to attack.
If we approach the Lord with humility and are quick to ask the questions “What lack I yet?” and “Lord, is it I,” the Lord will let us know what we need to do to improve. The response could come in the form of spiritual promptings from the Holy Ghost. It could come from words we read in the scriptures or other good books. It could come from listening to inspired leaders and speakers. Or it could come in the form of comments, suggestions, or even criticism we receive from those that are around us. Being humble will allow us to hear the messages God is sending us. We have the promise that if we will ask “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ,” He will answer our prayers and give us the guidance we need.
Let’s all think for a moment about a recent situation when we received feedback that suggested we need to change something in our lives. In what form did this feedback come? Remember, the Lord can speak to us in many ways, and sometimes His messages come through comments, observations, and even criticism from other people in our lives. Now, let’s think of our reaction. If our reaction included immediately dismissing the message, or getting angry at the messenger, or becoming defensive, or becoming offended at the mere suggestion that we need to change, then our reaction was full of pride. If, on the other hand, we reacted with humility, then chances are we were able to evaluate the need for a change and improve ourselves and the situation or relationship around us. A humble attitude makes all the difference.
The ancient prophet Moroni is a great example of someone who responded to a difficult challenge with humility. He expressed concern for his inability to write well. He wrote, “Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them; And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands.” Moroni felt inadequate in his ability to write, but he wrote anyway because he knew that’s what the Lord wanted him to do. The Lord then taught a very powerful lesson. He responded, “Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek . . . And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. . . . And my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
The Lord did indeed turn this apparent weakness of Moroni into a strength. Some of the most powerful writing in all the Book of Mormon comes from Moroni, especially chapter 10 of the Book of Moroni. Millions have gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and become converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ by following Moroni’s written word.
The Lord can also turn our weaknesses into strengths if we will “be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering” and if we will become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us].”
My wife is a piano teacher. I have heard her tell a story to her students that is very similar to the video clip we are about to watch that teaches us what our Savior can do with our humble efforts.
The Lord is anxious to help us. If we will humble ourselves to listen for His guidance and then “don’t stop; keep playing,” He will magnify our efforts and bless our lives. I testify that the Savior can magnify our humble efforts just like the master pianist did with this small boy. I testify that our lives will be blessed if we will allow humility to hold a place in our hearts and direct our lives. I challenge all of us to frequently ask the humble questions “What lack I yet?” and “Is it I?” If we then act on the promptings we will receive in order to make meaningful changes, we will begin to become more like our Savior, and we will improve the relationships and situations we encounter in our lives, which will lead to an increase in happiness. I know the Lord will bless our humble, sincere efforts to change and improve. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Luke 1:38.
 “6: How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?,” Preach My Gospel, 127.
 Proverbs 3:5–7.
 Joshua 24:15.
 Luke 22:42.
 “6: How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?,” Preach My Gospel, 127.
 Matthew 19:20.
 Matthew 26:22.
 James 1:29.
 Moroni 10:4.
 Ether 12:23–24.
 Ether 12:26–27.
 Alma 7:23.
 Mosiah 3:19.
Be Thou Humble
Audio of Brother Todd Blanchard's BYU-Idaho devotional address, Winter 2020