Meekness Is Strength with Shima Baughman

Tue Jul 11 05:00:23 EDT 2023

Being meek doesn’t have to equal being timid and quiet. What if we saw meekness as a principle of power that actually brings more peace into our lives?

Meekness is often misunderstood. The scripture, “blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,” is found in Matthew 5:5. It’s also found in the Old Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and it’s repeated by modern prophets in conference talks. The Lord has been telling us throughout history that we need to be meek. But what does it really mean for us today? What does it look like to live in meekness?

I maintain meekness by watching my Savior first as my main example.
Shima Baughman

Kathryn Davis and Shima Baughman discuss how her career working as a lawyer and a law professor can often be an environment where meekness is not an asset. But as we are constantly striving to be more like the Savior, meekness can be a power and not a weakness!

Top Takeaways from this episode

  1. One way to lead to more meekness in our lives is by being teachable. If we can allow ourselves to learn from others—no matter their status or experience—we will develop greater meekness.
  2. Meekness is a strength: it is humility, courage, allowing the will of God to be more important than anything else.
  3. True meekness isn’t a false sense of humility, but it’s acknowledging that others have great strengths and that doesn't take away from our own.
  4. We can achieve meekness when we understand where we come from and know our divine worth.

Small & Simple Challenge
In whatever way it might work for you—going to the temple, asking for the Holy Ghost, speaking with others—figure out what contention in your life is keeping you away from the Savior. Ask for more of Him in your life.


Kathryn Davis 00:00

Being meek doesn't have to equal being timid and quiet. What if we saw meekness as a principle of power that actually brings more peace into our lives? Hi, and welcome to Magnify, an LDS Living podcast where we cheer inspire and embolden each other as women and followers of Jesus Christ. We hope to use our influence to make a difference in the world. I'm your host, Kathryn Davis, a mom, a seminary teacher, and a grilling enthusiast who loves God. One attribute of being a peacemaker that is sometimes misunderstood or not clearly defined, is the attribute of meekness, the Scripture, Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth is found in Matthew five, verse five. And it's also found in the Old Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, and it's repeated by modern prophets and conference talks. The Lord has been telling us throughout history, that we need to be meek. But what does it really mean for us today? What does it look like to live in meekness? To dig into this topic, I'm here with Shima Baughman. Well, Shima I'm so excited to have this conversation with you today.

Shima Baughman 01:12

Yes, me too. And it's funny. I don't know if you thought of this. I know your brother's a law professor. But I feel like there's a certain irony in having a professor talk about meekness. It's like, I was thinking like, is this like a shopaholic talking about self restraint or something?

Kathryn Davis 01:29

That's funny. I didn't even think of that having a lawyer not even talking about meekness. Oh, the irony.

Shima Baughman 01:39

the irony, right? Like I'm in this profession where meekness is not appreciated, and not known amongst law professors, or professors. And you know, academics aren't really known to be very God fearing or faithful. And so it's interesting, because I think it's just very ironic.

Kathryn Davis 01:56

Well, I'm kind of excited then to dig into it a little with you, and hopefully get a different take on meekness and maybe how the world views meekness. But before we do, I want to ask you some rapid fire questions so our listeners can get to know you a little bit better. Great. Okay. Like you mentioned, you are a law professor at the University of Utah. Yes. What would you say is the most challenging part about working in that field?

Shima Baughman 02:24

Well, actually, so I have been a law professor at the University Utah for the last 10 years. But I just joined BYU law school to teach there. In a similar kind of halftime I teach at BYU. And then halftime I fellow... a distinguished fellow, they call it, at the Wheatley Institute, where I'm working at a religion think tank so I just barely switched at like a few weeks ago.

Kathryn Davis 02:46

Oh, really? Yes. What are you most excited about?

Shima Baughman 02:50

I'm so excited. So during the pandemic, I think a lot of people had their different changes in life, whatever they did lots of people, you know, you get a dog or you switch jobs and quit jobs. And for me, I really had this compelling feeling like I needed to do more to build the kingdom more directly. And I've been doing criminal justice policy work for a long time, which I felt like is trying to do good in the world. But I just felt like I just need to do more with my faith. And then, you know, lo and behold, you pray about it. And then God sends BYU calling and BYU reached out and asked me to come help. And first it was at the law school. And then I thought about this religion Think Tank idea I was going to do at the University of Utah, and then basically had the opportunity happen at BYU. So then I'm switching jobs, and I now work at BYU. So I'm so excited to work in this new field, helping you know, the world understand why there's benefits to religion, individually and for society.

Kathryn Davis 03:44

And what a crucial time.

Shima Baughman 03:47

Oh, exactly. That's exactly what it is. I think it's you know, exactly the time where we need to speak up and help convince our young people that there is a benefit to being part of a religious community, right. I don't think organized religion has had the best rap amongst Gen Z, but I think we're gonna change that.

Kathryn Davis 04:05

Well, and that's a really interesting attribute that maybe we can dig into a little bit later. But when you said to speak up, yeah. And how can we be meek and yet still speak up? Absolutely. I want to talk about that. So you were also born in Iran, and grew up in the US and did a program in Malawi, and Have you lived anywhere else?

Shima Baughman 04:31

I've lived in New York. I grew up mostly in New York. I did a Fulbright in Malawi doing pretrial detention work that kind of guided a lot of my criminal justice work. And I was in Iran till I was seven. So speak the language and have been back a few times, but that's mostly it. Yeah, I've been mostly New York and then I spent some time in Utah now... 10 years at University of Utah.

Kathryn Davis 04:52

What has living in all these different places and countries taught you about yourself?

Shima Baughman 04:57

That's a great question. I think There's so much that you learn when you move around and meet different kinds of people, I think the biggest thing I could think of is just the changes of faith in all the different places. So I grew up in a Muslim country, I was raised Muslim, we came to the US were able to stay in this country and decided to stay really, because we became Christian. So be more familiar with that community and all the changes, but yet the similarities and I actually recently returned from a trip to Israel, where I felt like, you know, all of God's people all over the world, right, are beloved, and he loves all of us. And there's so much to learn from all the different cultures and what God has taught all the people. And so I feel like, you know, having come from the Middle East, there's just so much to learn from all the different cultures and faiths. And so I think that's what I most appreciate, and being in the US where you can you have this freedom to worship and to speak. And I just feel so grateful that my path brought me to this country, honestly, and be able to practice my faith as I choose, which is not a liberty that everyone enjoys. And I really, I think that don't take it for granted, having family that can't worship or speak as they choose, you know.

Kathryn Davis 06:11

And how important that background will now be in the work you're about to take on.

Shima Baughman 06:16

Yeah, which I don't think it's by coincidence that God, you know, helped me find this way. Because I really do feel like if anyone can speak to the benefits of religious freedom of faith of you know, just having this backbone, I think it's me. I've benefited so tremendously from the gospel. And the restored gospel and being in the US where I can learn it, and freely practice it safely. It's it's such a blessing.

Kathryn Davis 06:44

It's really honestly such a testament to me that God puts us in the places he needs us to learn and grow to make a difference and a contribution in whatever sphere we're in.

Shima Baughman 06:58

Absolutely, absolutely. If we let his plan take over right, rather than our own, that's the lesson I'm keeping learning. I'm continuing to learn. Let Him guide he knows he'll put you in the right place, you know.

Kathryn Davis 07:11

Okay, so here's my last question for you. I know you have a sister who is a law professor at BYU as well.

Shima Baughman 07:18

So she actually used to, as well be a law professor at BYU. She now teaches at University of Irvine. So she's been there for a number of years there as well.

Kathryn Davis 07:26

And you're about to be a mom of two daughters. So what do you think is the best part about having a sister?

Shima Baughman 07:35

Oh, I love it. I think any sort of shared experience that you can have with someone that's like you, and I feel like the best I can explain is having a daughter because I've had three sons for a long time. And then, four years ago, I was blessed with a daughter and just having the similarities like the kind of instant bond. I feel like we both were instantly, kind of drawn together. And I think the same with my sister, my sister and I immigrated to this country together, we figured out how to be Americans together. Like I remember her giving me lessons like this, don't do this. Don't wear that. Like don't say this. And we were like, okay, okay, this is how it will be like, that was actively part of our upbringing. And I'm, I mean, if I didn't have a sister, I think I would be in a lot worse place right now. Didn't have someone to teach me all the ways.

Kathryn Davis 08:24

It's so true. Like, I love having those shared experiences with my sisters. I have two sisters. And yes, we're pretty different. But there's that commonality that brings us together and I love just knowing that no matter what, that they're gonna love me.

Shima Baughman 08:41

Absolutely, absolutely. That love of families is huge. And my family, I come from a really kind of close family. My dad came from eight siblings, my mom from four and they just their families are everything. My mom lives with currently, her sister and brother. They're just kind of it's our culture as well. So I love that closeness that yes, you're gonna love each other no matter what that is. Absolutely. I have another sister as well, who lives in Salt Lake City, which I get to see more. And she's awesome. And so yeah, it's it's great to have sisters, I think you're right.

Kathryn Davis 09:13

Well, I'm so interested, because of your background and your education, to hear a little bit more of your take on President Nelson's landmark address, "Peacemakers Needed". And we've been diving into what it means to be a peacemaker over the last couple of weeks on Magnify. And so today, I want to dig a little deeper on one of the attributes President Nelson talked about that's needed to be a peacemaker. And he talked about the attribute of meekness. And that I think, is something we don't talk very often about. I have never once heard somebody say, I want to be more meek, or I'm working on the attribute of meekness. I've never heard that. In fact, I think most of the time in today's world when we talk about meekness, it's a negative connotation to the word meek, right, in today's modern vocabulary, people don't use that term with fondness and they don't talk about, oh, it's good to be meek. And so I think a lot of us think about, oh, a little churchmouse and quiet and submissive. But I don't think at all that's what God is referring to when he asks us to be meek. In fact, Shima, Elder Bednar actually gave this talk titled meek and lowly of heart. And in it, he explains that meekness is strong, it's active, it's courageous, it's restrained. It's modest and gracious. What do you think meekness is?

Shima Baughman 10:39

Yeah, I think that's such a great point. You point out about the modern understanding, I think our modern secular understanding of meekness is so limited, and I think turning to a scriptural one and one that the apostles are teaching is the way to think about this, and how we want to develop it. And I mean, in my study of meekness, you know, the kind of words that came up were broken heart and humble, God fearing, righteous, you know, patient under suffering. And, you know, the meek are willing to follow gospel teachings. And so, Elder Bednar, the way he distinguished meekness from humility, because I think we often think of them as the same. But I loved his distinction, because I know it probably came with a lot of study, as most of the words he says do. But he said that humility generally denotes dependence upon God, and the constant need for his guidance and support. And he said, but but meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning from both the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable or experienced or educated or who may not hold prominent positions or have much to contribute. So I thought that was interesting, because you think of humility is dependence on God. But meekness is learning from the Holy Ghost and other people and being teachable, really. And I think what the Scriptures kind of enlighten us on this is that I think the inherent challenge with meekness is that it's not in our nature to be this way. And we really learn this, mostly exclusively from the Book of Mormon, because the Book of Mormon tells us, you know, the natural man is not meek, right? It's not natural for us to be humble or Meek or willing to submit our will. But if we do so then we can be transformed and live in the presence of God and achieve this kind of eternal destiny. Another kind of Scripture that came to mind when I thought about this, the definition of meekness, First Corinthians 14:20, where it says, "Be children in malice, but in understanding be men." I like that. Because I think, you know, when you think about Christ, telling the apostles, like who's the greatest in the kingdom, he always talked about children. And you know, we want to be humble and meek, like children, and also forgive like children. And malice is a kind of a key word in my field. So I teach criminal law and criminal policy and malice aforethought is, has been the key definition of first degree murder for a long time. So it's this kind of like, real hatred, right, holding a grudge like plotting to kill someone, you know, planning substantive kind of sustained hatred against someone. And so Paul is telling us in Corinthians, be children, right? So be meek when it comes to malice, as far as, you know, harm to people, but in understanding of the Gospel be like men or women and adults. And so I just think that is a really good lesson in life. Right? If you think about meekness.

Kathryn Davis 13:30

Well, if what Elder Bednar said, so being meek is being willing to learn and being teachable from others as well as God, and those scriptures talked about the transformative power of meekness, How is learning from others transformative?

Shima Baughman 13:49

You know, I think when you when you think about how to be teachable, and how to have your heart open to learning from other people, I think it really does take this sense of child likeness, right. I think that's, that's the the lesson that's always comes to my mind of how do we be like children? You know, that's where we initially start, and we are meek, and we are teachable. And so I think if we can kind of turn our minds towards that and try to be more like our inner child, and you think of President Nelson's, you know, recent instruction to us to focus on those identities first, right? Our identity as a child of God, our identity is a child of the covenant. And then as a disciple of Christ, I mean, two out of three of those are focusing on being children. And I think there's something significant to that. It's because children are meek and adults. As we grow older, naturally become less meek. We become more prideful and less teachable. And I think about, you know, for me, like teaching law students, for instance, right, for every hour of lecture, I teach law students, it takes 16 hours to prepare for that. I mean, so much work because adults are hard to teach, especially very Smart lawyers are very hard to teach. And when I think about, you know, teaching my primary class I used to teach, it was such a neat class, I taught the four year olds. And I remember, you know, they were just so they were like a blank slate, like, I would show them the picture of a temple, and they're four and so they're like, I'm like, What is this? And they're like, that's a that's a pretty castle. And so I'm like, this is it's so beautiful to be able to... there's so teachable, I mean, you can just teach them starting from the very beginning, like little principles. And so I think there's something beautiful about being able to learn from other people.

Kathryn Davis 15:31

So important. And I think it's such a different switch to what the secular world teaches us about meekness. In fact, I love this quote from Sister Patricia Holland, when she is discussing meekness. She says being meek doesn't mean being a doormat, which I think we often think, right? being submissive, being a doormat, she says, It means having the humility to depend on the Lord, who will give us the greatest confidence and strength. And I think that's kind of what you were saying about being like a child is having that humility to depend and learn from others.

Shima Baughman 16:08

Yes, I love that quote. And, and somebody who's been, you know, on my mind recently, because I am pregnant is Mary, the mother of Jesus. And, you know, she had a very obviously miraculous birth. And for my family, our little, a little miracle for us has been just me being pregnant at my age, and just with all the circumstances we've gone through. One of the things that was so neat and lessons she I feel like teaches us about meekness. So, you know, an angel tells her she's pregnant before her wedding day. And we often take take it kind of like, isn't that so beautiful? Isn't she so blessed? But you think about Mary getting that kind of, quote, unquote, miracle in her day in her culture. I mean, that would have caused so much shame for her. It would have ruined her engagement right to be pregnant without a father, right? At that point. She was a virgin, she would have a cast out of her community, her betrothed would have rejected her. And in fact, I don't think we often realize this. But when she goes and stays with her cousin, Elizabeth, while she's pregnant, it's likely because her community would not have understood that she's pregnant by an act of God and would have shamed her, right? But I look at her response when the instant she gets this message. And what she says in Luke 1:38, she says, Let it be to me according to thy word. And it like goes back to your quote, which is humility to depend on the Lord. She's just depends on him completely, and shows this great meekness as well. You know, all of Luke 1 really is just like this Testament where she talks about this low state of her as a handmaiden. And you know how God has done great things. And God has done great things to so many people, and she glorifies God completely. And it's just such a beautiful chapter. But I think it's neat because it extolled the virtues of meekness in the sight of the Lord. And it's such a great lesson for us. It's not being a doormat, right? Being meek, it's following God's plan for us. And that's what she really does. And I think it's such a great lesson. And I think sometimes as women, we are planners, and maybe it's harder for us. And maybe it's not, but maybe it's just me. It's sometimes hard to just resign my will and have that humility to depend on the Lord. As you know, Patricia Holland says, without reservation, but I feel like when you when you think about Mary, that's exactly what she does. And it was much different, I'm sure that she had imagined, obviously much better in the long run, but she is able to see it and you know, says let it be to me according to thy word. And I just think that's such a great motto for life. I wish we could channel that more. I wish I could channel that more.

Kathryn Davis 18:38

Shima, that is actually one of my favorite verses.

Shima Baughman 18:40

is it?

Kathryn Davis 18:41

Yes, and I every time I read that for so many reasons, but I think, can I also display that same meekness and trust that God knows, and, and God's will, but then one of the reasons why I love that verse so much is, you know, you fast forward a few years, and the Savior's in the garden. And he has a very similar response. Not my will, but by that but Thine be done. And I wonder, Oh, yeah. Did he learn that from his mother?

Shima Baughman 19:15

Huh? Yes, mother and father, but yes, his mother too, right. I love that.

Kathryn Davis 19:21

And that statement of Mary's been reflected in the Savior's statement in the garden. I just think there's so much beauty and power in that.

Shima Baughman 19:31

You know, another cool tidbit, since this is your favorite verse that a friend of mine told me recently, just this scripture, you know, let it be according to thy word. As you know, there's a famous Beatles song called Let It Be, and Paul McCartney who wrote the song, it's based on, you know, Luke 1:38. Let it be to me and according my word, and I think a lot of people have assumed that he was talking about the Mother Mary, kind of mother of Jesus, but Paul's mother is actually named Mary. And the way he tells the story of how This song came to be is his mother had died when he was 16. And just when the Beatles were getting big, and he couldn't figure out what to do, and he's under all the stress, his mom came to him in a dream and said to him, let it be and then he just kind of came up with a song. So it's like double meaning that just, you know?

Kathryn Davis 20:16

oh my gosh, I had no idea.

Shima Baughman 20:17

Yeah, but I just think it's such a beautiful, I mean, it just gave me so much more meaning to that song. I'm like, oh, it's like personal to him. But it's also personal to a lot of us as women just kind of letting it be. It's, it's such a great phrase to remember for me.

Kathryn Davis 20:32

Well, and the power in that phrase, let it be according to the will or not my will, but Thine be done. Like that phrase is such an example of meekness, but it is not being a doormat, right? Like that, that is strong, and that is courageous. And in fact, Elder Bednar he says this, he says, a meek person is not easily provoked, and readily acknowledges the accomplishments of others, even that statement from Mary, and then again, echoed by the Savior, that statement of pure meekness, like the strength in that statement, and the courage that that takes.

Shima Baughman 21:13

Absolutely. And you think about, you know, Mary, and she's a young girl, and she's probably thought about her wedding day for a long time. She could have compared herself to others, and been like, oh, like, my wedding won't be like, you know, my friend, all these other weddings that she might have imagined. I mean, she's gonna be pregnant when she gets married. And so I just think this ability to kind of quickly let it all go allow others their different dreams, right. I like that part of you to where he said he readily readily acknowledged the accomplishments of others, like, it's okay that others have, you know, beautiful other paths that aren't yours and not comparing ourselves to others. I think that's interesting.

Kathryn Davis 21:52

Is that hard for you?

Shima Baughman 21:53

Yes, it is. And I think actually, it's really hard for everyone. I think, you know, once I recognize that that's, it's a human natural part of our lives. So I don't know if you read the book Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. He's a professor at Virginia, but it really did make me feel better about it. Because I think our natural inclination is to compare ourselves to others. And an example I love that I read recently, as we're, you know, finishing John in Come Follow Me is the apostles. So when Jesus appears the apostles, so this is after his resurrected, right, Peters like basically head of the church, and he's amazing. And he's, if you think about like, who's, you know, greatest amongst them, he is obviously the children. But I mean, Peter is the head of the church, and he's in his great spot, and Christ is talking to him in Galilee. But yet, Peter says, and John 21:21, he says to Jesus, well, what about this guy speaking about John like is he going to just hang around until you come? And Christ says, well, like, what is it to you that he's doing that? And he says, To him, Follow thou me, basically, like, Don't worry about him, Peter, right? You do you, you follow me. And it makes me feel so much better that Peter who is like the head of the church, and so righteous and ends up being crucified in a way like Christ and being so faithful, is still comparing himself to John, right? And it's like, we all do this. And there's no one excluded from this human desire to be like others, to compare themselves to others to be envious, to be jealous. It's going to be hard for all of us to readily recognize and be so happy for others every time when they succeed in things that especially we want to succeed in, or we're failing in. So I just makes me feel better. And I love Christ's instruction to that. It's like, follow me. He just says, Follow thou me, Peter. And I'm like, I need to just know that, "Shima follow thou me don't worry about anyone else."

Kathryn Davis 23:42

Don't worry about others. But isn't that interesting that that's what true meekness is? Because often we think being meek is look at others and think, Oh, they're so great. And I'm not and it's this false sense of humility, right? Like, I don't compare and they're so great... that's being meek. But truly being meek is not comparing yourself to others. Like that's what meekness is.

Shima Baughman 24:05

Or when you do compare yourself, because I don't think it's possible not to, I think when you do, then turn to the Holy Ghost and say, Heavenly Father helped me and guide me in the Holy Ghost and give me the strength to be able to replace that, you know, envy or jealousy or comparison with something loving and I think that's what God does. That's like God is there right there to answer those kinds of prayers. I always have those and if I pray for love, if I tried to replace envy, with love, like that will happen. That's that's an easy prayer. God will be right there for that.

Kathryn Davis 24:35

So it's not necessarily not feeling those emotions, but learning how to replace them.

Shima Baughman 24:40

I think so. I mean, I don't think it's possible not feeling and I think sometimes we beat ourselves up or try to repress those feelings like I don't feel envious, I never am envious of anyone. It's like, well, maybe you're not, but I know I am. And Mormon says we all are because the natural man is, is how we are. And that's why we have to fight it. That's why we need Jesus Christ, right? It's like we were all I'll just perfectly able to feel like happiness for others accomplishments every time. I mean, maybe some people are. And I'm just not. And I'm just weak. But I think all of us struggle in some ways.

Kathryn Davis 25:12

Well, and I think what a beautiful way to be meek is to readily acknowledge the accomplishments of others. Just being happy for others that that truly is an attribute of meekness. And that might not be easy. And that might not come naturally for a lot of us. But I think there's power in that. And there's a beautiful strength in that. And I will just say, My husband is so good at that. He is so willing to acknowledge and be happy for others. And there's never been a hint of jealousy. And I am not as good at that. And so to have him display that, and there's just this pure joy that he has, because he is so happy for others, and it doesn't take away from him.

Shima Baughman 26:03

I love it. Don't you love seeing your husbands, or whatever, somebody live close with, really good traits? Like my husband's spiritual gift, superpower is like, he doesn't think bad thoughts about people. And I don't even know how that's possible. But like you said, some people have these gifts, like he can probably not have envy. And that's not what I mean. But he'll have some other challenge. You know, obviously, we all do. But that is such a gift. And I'm sure you learn a lot from it.

Kathryn Davis 26:29

Right? Like Elder Bednar said, If I can truly be meek, and learn from that strength, and have that teach me I just see, I see the beauty in that I see the peace that comes from that, because he can do that.

Shima Baughman 26:47

So neat. And I love an Alma 37:33 Where it talks about when you are meek, you have this peace in Christ, that and that the meek and lowly in heart will find rest to their souls. And I, I feel like it's like the opposite of comparison. And this like, kind of angst that humans have naturally. But we can have this meekness. God can help us all get this, and we have this rest and peace in Christ. And isn't that just like what all women strive for in life?

Kathryn Davis 27:17

While I think it's what we also desperately want and need? Yes. Oh, absolutely. How interesting that meekness can bring rest? Yes, I guess I've never equated those two together before.

Shima Baughman 27:29

Right? No, it is I know, it's I love that. And again, like the Book of Mormon really just gives us so much good material about how we can find peace in Christ. And like, that's why we're instructed to read it every day, but accepting His will for us not fighting it, not comparing our past to others. You know, whatever happening is God's will. I mean, all of those things are things that the Book of Mormon reminds us of, and it really is meekness, but it's not as easy as it seems. Right? I think anything of Christ that you brought him up earlier, and you know, his suffering and give somebody that is not easy for him to have resigned his will to the fathers, and suffered so much for us even though he could have brought, you know, legions of angels to just like, knock the the guys over. Something I realized when I read that account recently was when the men came to confront Christ and he said, I'm here, they fell backwards. His power actually made them fall backwards. So he could have easily just like, wiped them all off the face of the earth. But he doesn't, because he's meek, and he want to do the Father's will. And it's just what an example.

Kathryn Davis 28:32

Well, isn't that interesting, though, too, because meekness is powerful. Yes, right. And choosing meekness is a position of power, because we are choosing it for ourselves and not reacting. So we are choosing our own actions. And I think it can help us gain more personal power when we can choose meekness. And I think it's really important to note like President Nelson says, again, he says, I am not talking about peace at any price. But he is talking about he says, I am talking about treating others in ways that are consistent with keeping the covenant you make when you partake of the sacrament. You covenant to always remember the Savior. In situations that are highly charged and filled with contention. I invite you to remember Jesus Christ. Pray to have the courage and wisdom to say or do what he would. And isn't that interesting, like at that time when they fell back? And he had the power, but it's meekness that gave him power?

Shima Baughman 29:31

Absolutely. I think I've really kind of developed an interesting view of this, you know, contention versus meekness. So, before I was a law professor, I was a litigator, which is kind of the definition of contention. Litigation is is contention. So I spent three and a half years at a firm in New York, you know, fighting about everything. And it's funny because you go to law school and you learn about you know, these ways to kind of resolve conflict and understand each other and, you know, one side For instance, there's this thing called interrogatories, where lawyers write a bunch of questions to the other side, when they're in a litigation about something, they're arguing about something. And, you know, the other side answers them, and then the other side sends them questions and they answer them. And it sounds like, oh, that sounds like a really efficient way to exchange information and, and work through a problem, right? Because you give us answers to our questions, we give you yours and then we work it out, right? But in practice, it's like, no, no one actually answers the questions. You know, they fight about what the questions mean. And then they just go back and forth. And it really like doesn't, it just wastes time and makes everybody angry. And it's interesting, because there's so much contention in that world. And I remember crafty letters where you disagree about every point in justifying your view. And I have to admit, first, for me, in this in my career, this was kind of fun, it was fun to like, stand your ground and defend it by the law. And really just dig in to this, this contention. And obviously, sometimes there's a need to contend in the world. And like you said, President Nelson doesn't say peace at any price. But I do remember one case where I was defending a Jewish rabbi, who simply wanted to pray in a clean place, he was at a federal prison. And so he needed to come out of his cell because all prison cells in the federal government are connected with a toilet. So there's no demarcation between the toilet and the room, and you can't pray in a toilet under Jewish law. And so it was against his religion to pray in his cell. And anyway, there's the lawyer on the other side, I distinctly remember, he's a government attorney. And we were a private law firm that took this case pro bono, I remember just feeling so bad about him. Like we had this just like contentious relationship, because he is representing the government. And they were awful to my client, not him himself, but the prison. So once he filed this complaint, they would give him all these citations for having like broccoli under his bed, or, like silly little things that, you know, inmates get citations for. And I just remember having this like, bad feeling. But for him, he was just representing his client. And I guess I should have been too but you know, I remember years later, like for many years, he'd sent me a Christmas card. And, you know, once the case was over, and it got resolved for my client in a beneficial way. But it really taught me this great lesson of like President Nelson said, like, you can disagree with people, right. And it doesn't mean that there's any bad feelings like, and he talks about this, you know, President Nelson of how the apostles will come together, and they disagree about something and then they work it out. And like, just because you have different viewpoints on a certain issue doesn't mean that we can't love each other. And so it was a really good lesson for me to think about, you can stand your ground but not have bad feelings towards someone, right? That it doesn't have to be filled with contention, that disagreeing can be peaceful.

Kathryn Davis 32:43

So in a world that really taught you not to be meek, and that it was a weakness, as a lawyer, how have you been able to find that meekness can be a strength?

Shima Baughman 32:59

Oh, I love that. I think when you really understand the scriptural, the biblical definition of meekness and what our apostles are trying to teach us about it, I think that's where I understand what it really means. Because I think in the world of litigation, I think there's a lot of contention and bad feelings. And I think people sometimes let that come into their lives. And I think that's not a world that I've been instructed well on meekness, or in my world as a law professor, where I think I really had to kind of actively try to train myself not to think that I know things. That I can't be taught by my four year olds in my primary class. So I think the best lesson for me and the way I tried to maintain meekness or learn more about meekness is through watching my Savior first as my main example, trying to live my life the way he did.

Kathryn Davis 33:49

I think that's interesting, because you just talked about how we have to develop meekness and how you've had to develop meekness, and it just reminds me of Elder Bednar again. In his talk, he listed qualities of meekness, he said meekness is distinguished by righteous responsiveness. I think that's the ability to learn and be willing to learn. Yes, right. Willing submissiveness and strong self-restraint. I think it's a trait we can develop, that we can work on. That, to me, developing meekness is developing confidence.

Shima Baughman 34:28

And you think just because you're confident and accomplished and even wealthy or all these things, it doesn't mean you can't be meek. Because you think, you know, President Nelson as... I think he's such a great example of meekness. And I mean, think of how prominent he is in the world, right as a heart surgeon and all the things, yet we have examples of him at General Conference, President Monson challenged him to read the Book of Mormon everyday, he does it. President Spencer W Kimball challenges enter learn Chinese and he goes and does it, right? Our Prophet is such a great Example of meekness and we're so lucky in this time right now where I think we desperately need meekness in our world. And our Prophet is just standing there. I mean, he's done so many things in his life. And he is so meek still, I mean, even as He speaks to us, I just feel his meekness.

Kathryn Davis 35:15

And it's powerful. It is powerful.

Shima Baughman 35:19

It is powerful. Like you talked about the wallflower earlier. And no. Meekness is the key. And something I learned as well, as I was studying this is when you read in Moroni 7, if anyone... I don't know if anyone caught this. I hadn't caught this before. One of the things it says is you can't have faith and hope without meekness. And I just never occurred to me that like the foundation, you think of faith, hope and charity are like the traits we're trying to admire, you know, get especially charity, but you don't get faith even without meekness. And so Mormon really saw meekness as this evidence of strength of people's faith, like if you have meekness then you can have faith and it builds on that. So like you said, it is powerful. It's a huge strength.

Kathryn Davis 36:01

Do you think that's why the promise reward for meekness is so great? I mean, if we think the meek shall inherit the earth...

Shima Baughman 36:13

Right, it is so great. Yeah. I mean, there's something magical that happens when we become like children, and be willing to be taught, you know, it's like, that's where it starts, like, that's where God is able to slowly tutor us. And the Holy Ghost can kind of teach us I just think you're right. It's, that's probably why the meek will inherit the earth.

Kathryn Davis 36:34

And it seems like meekness is not coming from any external motivation. It just seems like it comes from an internal understanding of our relationship with the Savior.

Shima Baughman 36:46

Yes. And I love that you said that because I think that's, that is the key. It's this tying your internal confidence, who you are, whatever, with the Savior and with our Heavenly Father, understanding that that is where, you know, our source of strength and power and kind of divinity come from. You know, I have a little Tiktok, I think I told you about that I try to send little messages to young people, because a lot of young people are on Tiktok talking about Jesus on there is you know, something I've been doing this for the last year ever since I accepted this job at BYU. One of the things I've talked about on there, and I really do believe is that if we want to feel good and have this confidence about ourselves, right, it has to come from God. And it's, it's, I call it divine esteem. It's like your goodness, you have all comes from God. It's not self esteem. I think people think, oh, like my confidence comes from within. And there's so much self love right now in this in the world and discussion of oh, how do you love yourself, and, you know, it comes from within, but I'm like, the source of divinity comes from within. And so like you said, it's, it has to be with this relationship with your Savior and with your Heavenly Father. That's how you get this beautiful, unending source of confidence and love and peace, because you're not always going to get praise from others, but from God, if you continue to do as well, and you're with God, I think that that divine esteem is unending.

Kathryn Davis 38:12

And so maybe that leads right into my next question is, every week on the Magnify podcast, we'd like to issue a small and simple challenge, something that we can do to work on through the week, and you've given so many good tidbits for me to think about, and for me to try and implement in my life. But what would be your small and simple challenge for us to really internalize that meekness is a principle of power?

Shima Baughman 38:38

I think maybe in whatever way it might work for you. Whether it's, you know, asking God for the Holy Ghost, going to the temple, kind of looking inwardly at any contention that might be holding you from the spirit. I mean, figuring out what is keeping you away from your Savior, tangibly in your life, right? Is it that you need more of his power through the scriptures? Is it you need more of a temple? You know, just asking, and I think just that simple act of asking, is showing meekness. Not just assuming you know what you need, right? But just asking God and I think, if we can all just do that. And I'll do that myself this week, as well. Let's, let's all ask and see, God, what do I need this week to feel more of thy love to feel more peace in my soul, and in my family and in my work? And so I think that's a good challenge for me, and I hope others will, we'll take it to and see what we come up with.

Kathryn Davis 39:33

And just such an easy first step of meekness is to ask. Yes, there's power in that. Thank you so much for this amazing conversation. So much for me to think about.

Shima Baughman 39:47

Well, me too. I learned so much from you.

Kathryn Davis 39:51

I hope you loved that conversation as much as I did. There was so much to learn from Shima. One thing that she said that It will stay with me is that being meek is having a willingness to learn, no matter someone's status no matter what they do, but that we can always learn. Thanks for being here and hop on over to Instagram at magnify community for more inspiration and conversation and of course, subscribe and listen to the magnify podcast wherever you get your shows. Let's meet up again next week.

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