“Arrogance is trying to convince others you’re more than who they know you are.”Bianca Frazier
I ran into an old friend the other day. I’d watched her overcome unbelievable obstacles to earn two college degrees and start a successful outreach ministry, and was so proud of her. When I saw her at a restaurant downtown, I wanted to express my feelings, but she didn’t have time to speak with me. In fact, she barely looked up from her computer to acknowledge me at all.
I then told her a friend of mine and I had started a video podcast, Out of the Grave with Rob and Dave (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkNH-RazTPi9uShmbCiPVnw), which at the time consisted primarily of interviews with people who had amazing testimonies. (We’ve recently changed our format and the newly-revamped show is coming soon). I mentioned this to her, excited about the thought of getting her story, and with no emotion whatsoever, she flippantly responded, “Contact my assistant for an interview.” She ignored me and kept typing, making it awkward for a moment.
Embarrassed, I excused myself, and soon after she walked right past me and out the door with not even so much as an acknowledgement. Now, I know people are busy and tired, and I also understand everyone has bad days, but I’ve talked to others in the last few years who also say the success of ministry has “gone to her head.”
What’s interesting is that, behind every successful, arrogant person are those like me, who have seen the “wizard” behind the curtain. They’ve chosen to believe their own hype, though, and their whole attitude screams:
“Don’t be proud, but be willing to be friends with people who are not important to others. Don’t think of yourself as smarter than everyone else” (Romans 12:16b) (The NIV says “Don’t be conceited.”)
Arrogance in and of itself greatly offends me, but especially from Christian leaders who are supposed to set an example. I guess I don’t get how our Lord took on the role of a servant, washing the feet of His disciples, yet it’s acceptable for some to view themselves as better than others.
Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant” (Matthew 23:11), but these people act like everyone else should be their servants. Pardon me for asking, but how can someone think they’re better than the Son of God Himself? Jesus served others, yet they believe others are here to serve THEM. I don’t get it.
While this is extremely rare, I’ve also seen arrogance in a handful of Christian musicians and singers over the years. You see, my son, Trey, is in a Christian progressive death metal band, Sacred Throne, and because of that association, I’ve become Facebook friends—and with a few of them, real friends—with a great number of bands. I would guestimate 99% of them are very cool, but I recall just last year reading a post by an artist who had a mildly successful album several years back. His arrogance was putrid, malodorous, and I unfriended him immediately.
Just because someone has “fans” does not make them better than those who enjoy and are blessed by their talents. That whole “I’m better than you” attitude makes me sick. We’re all God’s children, and having a successful ministry of any kind means only that the Lord is using them in a different way than the rest of us. We all have different gifts, but are all members of the same family.
The District Official or Deacon is no more superior in God’s eyes than the derelict and the drifter.
“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Romans 12:5b).
I’m having to write this blog in stages, as I’m extremely passionate about the subject, and when I feel my anger rising up, I close out my “draft” and come back to it later. Concerning the actual writing, I’m now on day four.
If you have been turned off Christianity by one of God’s vain followers, please allow me to apologize. While they claim to be His mouthpiece, their attitude is revolting, and there’s no excuse for it. Check out this story Jesus shared in Luke 18:9-14:
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: ‘Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.”
“’But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’”
I’ve met Christians who rag on the Pharisees’ foul attitude, but whose spirit was just as fetid. I don’t get it; those of us called to minister to others should consider it an honor and a privilege to do so. Honestly, I hope those who have fallen into this trap wake up before God takes it upon Himself to humble them.
I’ve been humbled, and believe me, it ain’t pretty, dude.
My message is simply this: “Woe to the proud, for the Lord will, at some point, knock you down a peg or two, in order to remind you Who’s in charge.”
“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3b).
I recall a story from the 80s, regarding Mötley Crüe founder and bassist Nikki Sixx. The story goes, he was making his way out of a bar and bumped into someone. This person turned quickly in anger, getting ready for a confrontation, when Sixx’s bodyguard stepped between them and pushed the man back down into his seat.
“When Mr. Sixx bumps into you,” he supposedly told the bar patron, “You say thank you.”
I have no clue whether or not that actually happened, but it seems typical celebrity behavior to me. I’m a HUGE fan of many musical styles and genres, but refuse to clamor for the attention of those who truly could not care less about me. I’ve seen it time and time again, even in the Christian music world. Fans fight for a word from or a selfie with one of their favorite bands, and when they get it, somehow feel as if God has reached down from the heavens and graced their cheek.
Us “normies” can wax poetic and nobody pays attention, but a celebrity—in or out of the Christian world—speaks, and fans shower them with praises. I know it sounds like jealousy talking here, but BELIEVE ME it’s not. Fame is fleeting. Ask Jesus and He’ll tell ya about the time He was worshipped by the same people one week who cried for His execution the next.
Hey bro, they’re just people. Now, as previously stated, the vast majority of friends I have in the Christian music world are not like this, so please don’t think I’m raggin’ on all of them. The majority of them are amazing people, and I count it an honor to be friends with them.
(Stay tuned for part two. As stated, I have intensely strong opinions about this whole “arrogance” thing, and need to take a break from writing it so my “passion” stays in check 🙂 )
Featured Image by William Blake, “Satan Arousing the Rebel Angels”