Some years ago, while I was still in Bible college, I met up with someone that had very, VERY different beliefs than I did…and that conversation quickly went in a toxic direction…because I switched on the arrogance mode…I want to talk about that…
We were just making small talk for a while…until the discussion shifted in the direction of what I was doing with my life. I mentioned that I was in school for ministry training, and then I perceived some body language on his part that I took as a slight towards my obvious beliefs and chosen path. When that happened…something welled up inside of me. It wasn’t anger or frustration…it was something far more sinister. It was something inside of me that felt the deep need to prove something. I don’t remember how the conversation went next, but what I do know is that somehow we ended up on the discussion of evolution versus creation. It was in that place…in those moments…when I began to destroy a possible relationship.
I had studied this subject pretty well from the creationist perspective and had all my ducks in a row. I was in full debate mode. For every question or objection, I had what I thought was a “smack-down” answer. It became obvious that he wanted to end the conversation…calling it an area where we “agree to disagree” but I couldn’t let that happen. I had to win. I had to make him cry “uncle.” I had to walk away believing that I had straightened him out.
For a while, I felt like I was so righteous for doing what I did…I felt like I had done my duty for the cause…I thought that my “correcting” of him was something God would have me do. I genuinely had myself convinced that I was just playing the role of God’s messenger and defender of truth.
…some time went by. The more I thought about the exchange the more it troubled me. Then I got to a place in my life where I began to realize how arrogant I had been for so long (I said “began” to realize…I’m still learning of the depth of this). As I was thinking about my struggles with arrogance, once again the conversation with the gentleman came back to trouble me. I began replaying it…thinking of how I must have sounded…and then reality hit me. I had been an arrogant jerk to this man while he was being very gracious to me. I was holding on like a pit-bull with its jaw locked while he was just trying to get out of the scuffle. I don’t think he wanted out of the fight because he was worried he would lose…I think he just didn’t want to fight. He didn’t want to argue. He had his beliefs and he may have had an opinion about mine as well, but I would have never known because I wasn’t interested in his opinion. I was only interested in telling him why I was right. I had to win.
As my pondering continued…I realized something…something that’s actually quite pathetic. My drive and desire to win had nothing to do with getting to know him…or with sharing any life experience with him. My drive and desire to win had to do with not wanting to be looked upon as a fool. I didn’t want him to think that I was ignorant, dumb, or naive. I wanted him to think of me as well informed, intelligent, and wise.
Time marches on and I’ve noticed a trend in my life. When I meet someone new…especially if they have academic credentials such as a master’s degree or a doctorate (in any subject truthfully)…then I feel a bit like I need to prove myself to them. I’m concerned with how they view me. I’m concerned with making them think I’m brilliant. I’m not concerned with it…I’m obsessed with it. I find myself challenging those with theological degrees to make myself seem smarter or more informed than they are…and I find myself trying to impress those who are not believers in order to make it very clear that I’m no fool.
…and in almost every one of these instances…the same arrogant attitude comes out…and I alienate people.
The question is…”why?”
Here’s why: I’m very insecure…because I’m very prideful…and my arrogance comes directly from my insecurity…resulting in “insecurogance.”
While being insecurogant…I cannot learn anything…no one can teach me because by necessity…I MUST have ALL the answers.
Why is this important? It’s important because the majority of (if not all of) people in the world that act arrogantly and pridefully do so out of a deep sense or feeling of insecurity…and this prevents us from being approachable, relational, or even truly personal.
I don’t know if you struggle with insecurity like I do, but here’s what I’m learning: My worth is not dependent upon how others perceive me. I don’t want to arrogantly say that I don’t care what others think of me. That’s not true, nor is it healthy to go completely in that direction. People can help us and can be good indicators of our behavioral patterns. But the thing we must all realize is this…It’s okay for some or even many people in the world to not like us or not approve of us. This doesn’t make them bad people any more than we are bad people. Instead what this does is help us realize that the exhausting pattern of trying to win everyone’s approval all the time is truly exhausting not only to us but to everyone around us as well.
I don’t have to be insecure. I have nothing to be insecure about. My youngest daughter said something to me today that I will hopefully never forget. She was praying this morning and she asked God to show her how great He is. She said that the words, “You are My masterpiece,” came into her heart and mind. I asked her what that meant and she said that God was telling her that His greatness is seen in His making of her.
Our worth is determined by the hands of our Designer…not what the “market” says.
No matter what we hear or experience…we have no reason to doubt that. You need not be insecurogant. Just be you (humbly, of course). You are His masterpiece.
*Image taken from http://quotlr.com/image/2419