Tag Archive: arrogance

I’ll be honest, I have not faced the adversity and oppression that many around me have faced in their lifetime and in their shared experience. So I cannot truly feel the depths of emotion that many have endured in the last 12+ hours after the US presidential election. I’ve also realized I have not such a disturbing dissonance within me for a long time.

As I’ve been trying to process where my thoughts and feelings are on all this, I’ve recognized a couple of things.

First, “Is this what God wanted?” With so many evangelical leaders, and with a segment of Christians who vocally proclaimed that “God wants Trump to be president” (as a YouTube search will verify), I adamantly couldn’t come to that conclusion. And yet here we are. Which makes me start wondering, am I not understanding the will of God? Are my understandings of who God is and his desires really that far off? At this point, I don’t think my understanding of God’s intention for life or for his creation is completely wrong. (But I did get pushed to that at one point.)

Secondly, the word that’s recently been popping in my mind is “injustice”. There’s that part of me that still clings on to the idea that you “reap what you sow”. Recently, I heard some news-talk callers state that late-night TV shows (like Seth Meyers, SNL, Stephen Colbert) were bullies to Trump. Part of that was because (sounding like a 3-year old), he started it! The arrogance that exhumed from him seemed unmatched. (To be honest, part of the reason why I watched those clips was as a defense against that arrogance.) As Van Jones stated recently (and I’ll paraphrase), we tell our kids not to be bullies, not to be bigots and to study and be prepared, and yet this guy succeeds in spite of contradicting all of that. Even with that arrogance, all that hatred and seemingly lack of respect for anyone except himself, he still managed to win the White House. It seems as though he didn’t reap what he sowed, that someone can win while so explicitly disregarding others in such a profound manner.

A sermon I preached a few weeks ago on moments when God seems far, far away came flooding back to my mind (always interesting how God reminds me of those). This feels like one of those moments when what my head knows and what my heart experiences are two different things. On the one hand, yes, I do believe and cling to the truth that God is still sovereign (because he’s been sovereign through so many other reprehensible moments in history before). On the other hand, my heart looks around and asks, Where are you God in all this?

On this side of eternity, I don’t know. That dissonance I don’t believe will cause me to throw away my faith in Jesus. It’s definitely not a state I want to remain in forever. Somehow, may God continue to reveal how all this unfolds. In the meantime, I must continue to seek him and his will not just on this subject, but for everything else that’s coming.


Words from a Prophet

Lately, there have been three distinct themes in my life:

  • a conversation with someone about “fear of the Lord” and how it impacts our lives
  • my recent Bible readings of Israel and Judah before and as they were being exiled along with the contemporary prophets of that time (chronological reading is coming in very handy)
  • a couple of conversations where people are contemplating whether to approach others with the truth, speculating whether it will be heard in vain

In a lot of ways, this isn’t unusual. It seems lately that God has kept the prophets in the back of my mind for a reason. So many times the prophets were told to give a message and God even states that the people won’t likely listen to it. Yet God charged them to speak anyway. At the end of the day, whether we think our actions or words will be ineffective or a waste of time isn’t really our decision. When God charges us to speak a message, it needs to be spoken, no matter how hard it is. (That doesn’t mean we don’t attempt to communicate at our best, that we just flippantly blurt out whatever we think we want to say. Rather, we communicate the message as best with as much grace as possible, yet leave the results with God.)

The flip side of this is that too many times there are some of us who speak too abrasively. We seem to think that anything coming from our mouths is “a word from the Lord” when really it’s our own opinions or perspectives. We think we’re speaking God’s truth when really we’re spewing out our own agenda, our own ideas (attributing them to God). This is a grave danger because 1. we’re blinded by our own arrogance and 2. we’re delusional. So even if God were to correct, unless our attitude and mindset changes, we’re really in the same boat as the people to whom we are judging.

This is where “the fear of the Lord” comes in. When we speak on behalf of God, we must realize that the magnitude of what we’re suggesting. I think sometimes many of us speak with a false sense of pride (perhaps even arrogance). But to speak God’s word or God’s truth contains a sense of profound fear that challenges us to make sure we have it right in the first place. (Because if we’re wrong, the consequences are disastrous both for the audience and the speaker.) This isn’t limited to sermons or public addresses, but includes personal conversations as well. So many times God warns that there were prophets who kept giving the people what they wanted to hear yet claimed to speak for God (when they weren’t). They evaluated their performance based on what the audience wanted to hear, not what God wanted to communicate. Whether this was intentional or delusional, it was false.

It’s one thing to have a personal opinion; we’re all entitled to that. However, it’s different when we claim to speak for God. When we do that, we had better make sure through much prayer and discernment that this is God’s message. That being said, once it is confirmed as God’s message, we must deliver it, whether or not we feel it will be effective or well-received. That part isn’t our concern.

Woe is me if I do not speak the words God has given me.

The lure of the consultant

After some time in the “field”, many people want to be consultants. They may not use that word, but basically, they want to share their “expertise” with others. Some have that expertise; many really don’t (but think they do). What’s the allure of the “consultant”? I think there’s two things.

The Celebrity

To be the outside voice sharing information has a certain “celebrity” to it. Whether as a speaker, a consultant, adviser, etc, people are looking to that person to share that nugget of wisdom that will change their lives. And that audience, many times, treat them like a celebrity. Let’s face it, there’s an attraction to that. At some level, we all get a kick out of being “known/famous”.

No Ownership

The beauty of being a consultant is you have no ownership over change. The consultant comes in, gives his/her advice and the audience is free to take it or leave it. Thus, there is no “burden” to follow through. They move on to the next audience.

Being the consultant is some people’s calling, but isn’t for everyone (or even the majority). Sure, we all share what we know with others around us. But for many of us, it’s not what we’ll ever be paid for. And if we do, we need to check out motives and to approach it with humility because the lure of the “consultant” could drag us into an egotistical, self-cented and distorted sense of reality within the black hole of our arrogance.

Collaboration is a big buzzword nowadays. It’s all about how we can “work together, pooling our combined resources into some bigger than the individual parties” (sounds very baptistic to me).

Honestly, it’s something I struggle with. It seems I have two “default” settings in my brain:
– expert: I come as one with “expertise” in whatever field of discussion.
– empty: I have nothing to contribute and just absorb in a conversation.

Collaboration is that middle ground. It’s in between expert and empty where we all have a place on this continuum. But it’s trying to find where I stand on that continuum so I get a sense of how much I contribute. Too often, I’ve seen people who lean more towards “expert” in a discussion where really, what they contribute has little to no significance. But there are times when I see people who think they’re empty but really have valuable insights to offer. (Perhaps that speaks more towards a person’s sense of humility vs. arrogance.)

What I struggle with is when I can significantly contribute but not go towards “expert” when really I’m not. Do I assume I have an expertise in something in which people are looking for insights from me? (By the way, I don’t the premise that everyone’s opinion is equal. Some people’s opinions in specific topics carry far more weight than others; those are the ones I’m looking for.) There are other times when I’m expected to be the “expert” in a discussion when the participants already know just as much as I do (if not more). In those moments, it’s a matter of drawing those insights out (that’s where coaching comes in i.e. I don’t come as an expert in a field, but I work at drawing out those insights, even for my own learning).

Collaboration can sometimes be tricky in navigating. I know I still have a lot to learn in doing it well. But there is much learning that can take place when we’re willing to give and take not based on what we think we can offer, but with what we really have.

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