Embracing arrogance

“You’re so damn arrogant. If you ever met God, the first thing you’d say is what are you doing in my chair?” — LISA GARDNER, The Perfect Husband (American Author)

Most of us have a list of jerks, but we’re not on it. Which really puts us at the top of the list.

You could distil most definitions of arrogance down to “a manifested attitude of superiority.” This is an absurdity for anyone other than God. For the Christian to present arrogance is nothing short of cosmic irony. We not only confess that God is holy, we subsequently confess that we are not. The non-Christian has an expected uniqueness as well. Their denial of God requires attributes that only God could possess. They’ve given themselves divinity, so their arrogance would and should come as no surprise, but is no less treasonous.

The very moment we complain about another’s arrogance we generally arrive at that conclusion based entirely on what has been done to us or someone else. To assume an offense toward ourselves as the basis for defining arrogance is arrogance. Only through the lens of humility can we see that arrogance is an affront to God and a misunderstanding of God. While the arrogant can typically spot arrogance, only the humble can see and approach it truthfully.

The arrogant say to the arrogant, “You’ve offended me.” The humble say to the arrogant, “We’ve offended God.”

The truth of offense isn’t swept aside, but it’s embraced and wrestled through most accurately when we are most focused on who God says He is and who God says we are, rather than who we think God is and who we think we are. The moment our response to arrogance in others is based on what they’ve done to us, we should immediately recognize that our own arrogance isn’t being dealt with well. Embracing arrogance is a way of life rather than a momentary reaction.

Principle #1

Focus on God’s Holiness

No one can stand in the presence of a holy God and remain unmoved, they either move toward humility or arrogance. Arrogance may be one of the only attributes that we address most effectively in others by addressing it most effectively in ourselves first and primarily. Focusing on your own arrogance will give you freedom. Focusing on other’s arrogance will lock you up in bitter chains and only increase your own arrogance. We’ve all heard the phrase “It takes one to know one.” That couldn’t be more true with arrogance.

Arrogant people are generally annoyed most by arrogant people, and that should be startlingly ironic.

So a guy’s an arrogant jerk. So what. Stop speculating the nuances of their arrogance. He didn’t do this. He did do that. He shouldn’t be like this. Who cares? We do, and that’s the problem. We naturally respond to arrogance with our own arrogance rather than God’s holiness and absurd love for us in the midst of our unholiness.

Focusing on God’s holiness will unearth the distance between us and God, a distance that demands an unthinkably loving God. A pandora’s box, that once opened, grips how we see and respond to all of humanity.

Principle #2

Begin to love the tension of arrogance

Cherish the drama of redemption. The tension of engagement makes us all better. It forces principle #1 into action. I’ve seen God grow me in my arrogance, and I’ve seen God grow others, but I’ve never seen Him do it outside of the tension and drama of redemption within community. No one grows in isolation, but a first fruit of arrogance is to do just that, isolate.

When you want community least, you need it most.

Community creates a holy tension. When you’re dealing with your own arrogance well and the fruit of that is your being unmoved by the arrogance around you, you’re able to engage and love those struggling with arrogance.

Principle #3

The seed of arrogance is insecurity

Sounds crazy, huh. It’s true, and it’s present within competence and incompetence. Do not water the seed of arrogance, and be cautious that no one waters your own seed of arrogance. Watering this seed looks like cultivating what’s masking insecurity. I’ve not really found a hard and fast rule here other than to say we must navigate wisely our insecurities and the insecurities of others so as not to water the seed of arrogance.

Engaging arrogance in your own lives will give us the freedom to love and care for those around us not dealing well with their own arrogance. Spend most of your time dealing with the arrogance in your own heart, and the moment you’re noticing arrogance in others, just remember that your heart is noticing something it is all too familiar with.

BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL. 

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