Introduction: Spiritual Vaunting - Defined and Setting the Stage

Never heard of “Spiritual Vaunting”? Neither did I. I made the term up.

Vaunting is a term we don’t encounter much. So, here are some textbook definitions of the term “vaunt”:

Merriam Webster:

to make a vain display of one's own worth or attainments

to call attention to pridefully and often boastfully

a vainglorious display of what one is or has or has done

a bragging assertive statement

There is nothing inherently wrong in getting some credit and recognition for achievements. There is nothing inherently wrong with occasionally drawing attention to oneself and focusing on oneself. The problem is excess and it has become excessive in our culture.

It is particularly inappropriate when it happens in a church setting.


My first husband and I created our own little family Christmas tradition. We scoped out the local newspaper for religious Christmas programs. We spent most of December attending as many of them as we could. This involved visiting many different churches and experiencing many different faiths.

I found some aspects of these programs curious. Over time, I started to notice some themes. I was vaguely disturbed by them. It took some time and some thinking to pin down why.

I finally did. Then, I started noticing these same disturbing themes cropping up in our Latter-day Saint meetings and events. Now, I’m so concerned about the trend, I’m speaking up, in this blog series.

What disturbs me

Many of these Christmas productions would be introduced with the idea that the entire effort was “for the glory of God!” The Narrator/Presenter was quite emphatic about this and I usually believed them, until the end of the event.

It was at the end that things got muddled. We often had to listen to an endless litany of people being acknowledged and thanked. Sometimes, each person was even spotlighted and an ovation was invoked by the presenter. I didn’t like it.

This sort of thing has cropped up in our church settings. In fact, I’ve recently noticed that the endless litany of people being acknowledged and thanked has moved to the beginning of the meeting instead of the end. Applause is not common, but its substitutes have become so.

I’m equally disturbed when I’m acknowledged and thanked. It’s nearly always for simply doing my calling. I’m serving Him in His church. I shouldn’t expect or want this type of adulation. Getting it can cause problems. I don’t want these problems, for myself or others.

The principle of non-distraction

In a General Conference address in 1998, Elder Dallin H. Oaks introduced the “principle of non-distraction” thus:

The principle I suggest to govern those officiating in the sacrament—whether preparing, administering, or passing—is that they should not do anything that would distract any member from his or her worship and renewal of covenants.

Elder Bednar invoked this same principle in 2021. Principles have general applications for which we can generate our own rules.

I’m suggesting that we should use this principle to avoid inserting ourselves into things at church and avoid distracting people away from the true emphasis of the Savior, His Atonement, the purposes for which we attend church, and what we should be concentrating on while we are there.

We should probably avoid doing or saying anything that deflects attention away from the gospel, or really anything spiritual. This is especially true if we are directing on ourselves.


Spiritual vaunting is all about “Me” and “I”. Actions and conversation focus attention away from Jesus Christ and the gospel and onto individuals instead.

Nothing we do in the Church should cause us to shift our attention away from the Savior and onto ourselves. NOTHING!

Christ’s emphasis is always on what he did for us and on giving Heavenly Father the glory. Anytime we seek glory or acclaim for ourselves, we are following Satan’s example, not Christ’s.

This is the Lord’s work, not ours. It’s His gospel, not ours. It’s His church, not ours. We should be grateful and thrilled to help in the effort, not seek adulation for what we have individually done.

Spiritual vaunting is the antithesis of the Savior. If the Savior didn’t do it, neither should we. Seeking honor or glory in the church is Satanic, not Christlike.

Spiritual Vaunting and the Perils of the Rameumptom Syndrome

“As teachers, we may speak with the tongues of angels; we may entertain, delight, amuse, astound. But if we have failed in keeping our focus on Jesus Christ, we have missed the mark and our teaching is only a shadow of what it ought to be. Always keep the focus on our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Teaching in the Savior’s Way with Elder Uchtdorf”. Address given June 12, 2022. Accessed June 12, 2022 from

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