9 And [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Humility. That's the key to our ability to follow the iron rod as seen by Lehi and Nephi. It's also our stumbling block. But it seems to be in our nature to compare ourselves to others, and hold people up on a pedestal, or hold them down in contempt. (Arrogance...the absence of humility.)
What does it take to get us to humble ourselves? Try surfing Alma 32. There's a great discourse here as Alma preaches to a multitude of impoverished people who come begging to be taught the gospel, for they themselves were banished from the synagogues because of their poverty (Alma 32:3). This banishment, and the cruelty of their poverty, made them humble. By being humble, you reach out for help, you acknowledge the need for a greater power than your own, because "you have a lowliness of heart" (Alma 32:12).
But do we want to put ourselves in such a dire situation, allowing the crushing weight of reality, as Alma says, to compel us into a state of humility? The truth is...yes. Sometimes, that's how we get there. Then we're not unlike the publican who smites his breast calling out to God, "I'm a sinner!" But better to be the publican and humble ourselves, than to be the Pharisee who struts about like a peacock, holding his life above the great unwashed.
Try this: Who do you associate with at church, and church activities? Who do you NOT associate with at church and church activities? Why?
(More on this later...)