"You cannot be one of the few, truly humble followers of Christ if you think you are, especially in the meaning of 'few,' because a truly humble follower of Christ will not think he is any better than anyone else."
This is a very common line of thinking. It seems that modern sensibilities are offended by the idea that one person could be better than another. It seems to trip some wire, causing the person to flee in haste from any line of thinking that involves this thought.
What do we mean by better? Do we mean value as a person? Every soul is precious in the sight of God, because every soul has within it infinite potential. Since God sees our potential as clearly as he sees our actual progress, he values each person equally, no matter how well or poorly they are measuring up to their potential.
Is there, then, a difference in his perspective towards and interactions with some individuals compared to others? Absolutely. God himself said:
...These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all. (Abraham 3:19)
So how does God distinguish between the intelligence of one vs. another? It comes down to how much light they seek, receive, and live.
Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it. (1 Nephi 17:35)
Just before this verse, Nephi was explaining that the Cananites would have been just as blessed as the Israelites had they kept the commandments of God like the Israelites, showing that God does treat those who keep his commandments differently to those who do not, and the former are preferred to the latter.
Mormon wrote the following, making a distinction between "chosen vessels" who are of a "strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness" and "the residue" of men:
30 [Angels show] themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.Nephi is a wonderful example of what it means to be better than your fellows. When he and his brothers were given an opportunity to accept new truth and rise up from average mediocrity, he was the only one that accepted the opportunity. He was faithful to every commandment he received. Because of this, he was appointed a ruler over his brethren by God.
31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. (Moroni 7)
The process of Nephi's ascension is a pattern that can be employed by anyone, and is employed by all who become better than their fellows. The pattern is laid out in Alma 13:
1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—(Alma 13)
God provides an equal opportunity to all people, but many do not accept his invitation at all, and very few accept it completely.
True superiority is not something to be envied in the lens of the world. As a godly king, Nephi's job was to a) acquire more light and truth than his fellows by applying more heed and diligence than they did, and b) sacrifice himself to a greater extent for their benefit than they themselves did. Though Nephi was indeed more advanced than his brothers, he suffered far more than they did. It was not a glamorous job. It wasn't something to be envied. This is the unavoidable experience of all who, like Nephi, listen to God's voice and do what he says. They will unavoidably receive more light and truth than their fellows, immediately be charged to impart what they can of what they have received to others, and consistently be rejected and persecuted because of their attempts to help others. "For of him unto whom much is given much is required..." (D&C 82:3)
Jesus is the chief example of what it means to be better than your fellows.
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.Being better is not a joyful thing. It is a burden. It doesn't get you a sports car and a trophy wife. It gets you more opportunities to suffer without recognition for the benefit of others who do not appreciate you.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:2-12)
All who will be better will be undesirable to their fellowmen. They will be despised and rejected. They will be full of sorrow. They will suffer for the sins of others. They will be wounded by others. They will be oppressed and afflicted. In spite of all this, no one will listen to them, and they will be comforted only by the knowledge that they had done all they could.
To be "great" is to be "...stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, and wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented...[To wander] in deserts and in mountains, and hid in dens, and caves of the earth;" (Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 32) The intensity of these experiences increases with how much better you are than the average, with Jesus at the obvious maximum.
To be better is to serve more:
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.There is nothing about being better that is desirable to a carnal mind. From a carnal mindset, it is more enjoyable in every way to be mediocre. The only reason that motivates being better it is love of God and love of your fellowman.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)
Why this matters
So why does it matter whether or not we are comfortable with the idea of a person being better than another? This concept is unavoidably intertwined with our ability to perceive and heed truth, which in turn determines our relationship with God and, ultimately, salvation itself.
If we do not accept that one person can in fact be better than another, we must also believe that the most depraved individual is no different than Jesus Christ himself, who also lived once as a man. In such a blind state, we must suppose that anything goes, and there is no need for repentance or improvement. Even if we believe repentance is necessary, how could we identify the way forward if we believe all people are the same? The very process of repentance consists in a) recognizing some behavior that is more righteous than your own / some bit of light and truth more advanced than what you currently have, and b) implementing it in your life. If one person can't be better than another, you can't recognize superior light and truth to your own, and you can't advance towards God.
Because truth is many-dimensional, it is difficult if not impossible to produce an absolute ranking of people in terms of light and truth (though God can and does do this, see Abraham 3:19). For a simple example, consider that I might be less patient than you, but perhaps I am more willing to give of my substance to the poor. It turns out that where someone is in terms of truth is a complicated question, because that progress would need to be measured across every dimension (see the first picture in this post), and somehow compared. Luckily, we need not worry about that because our concern is in identifying specific truths along a specific dimension to recognize either an opportunity to impart or acquire something more advanced to others or ourselves, respectively.