Arrogance is one of the most
pervasive problems in society. It is basic to human nature, and
has been the source of much conflict and heartache.
Arrogance can be described as
natural confidence gone sadly awry. Rather than the self-assurance
born of knowing our own strengths and limitations, arrogance admits
It might also be described as having a lack of
accountability. It’s a character trait often seen in elected
officials who assume the public isn’t watching when they spend
taxpayers' dollars. Or it could be anyone who assumes God isn’t
looking when he misbehaves.
person assumes his views and opinions are "The Truth." He
claims to have no
weakness and usually rejoices in finding flaws in others. But
imperfections are inherent in being humans, so the arrogant, like
everyone else, always have feet of clay, however well hidden they
Pride is a Major Problem
For a long time,
I didn’t pay much attention to what type of ego any given Christian
leader might have. If someone preached the gospel message, it didn’t
matter to me if this individual thought he was God’s gift to
mankind. I now realize that arrogance is where a lot of error
Satan uses the
spirit of self-importance as a stepping stone to deception. If he
can’t gain control of the mind in one step, he’ll gladly accept
pride as a down payment.
offers much about pride--none of it positive. The Word of God gives
numerous examples of how arrogance can lead people to destruction.
The Book of Proverbs has so many warnings against pride, God could
have just as well added a subtitle to the book, “Keeping Your Ego in
“A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the
humble in spirit” (Prov. 29:23).
“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”
“Wise people don't make a show of their knowledge, but fools
broadcast their folly” (Prov. 12:23 NLT).
“People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who
will not admit that they are wrong are in danger” (Prov. 10:17 TEV).
“Arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will
be respected” (Prov. 29:23 TEV).
“Too much honey is bad for you, and so is trying to win too much
praise” (Prov. 25:27 TEV).
There is little teaching about arrogance today
because it is so widely embraced by the Christian world. Christians
are told self-esteem is the path to happiness, and godliness is
reflected in the amount of material goods we possess and brag about.
At one point, a
minister who had great wealth would try to hide his earthly horde.
Today, ministers often demonstrate no shame in showing off their
airplanes, and mansions.
The prosperity preachers need to
be mindful of how the following verse
runs contrary to
their lifestyle: “And
again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle, than for a
man to enter into the
kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24)
Some Word of
Faith preachers say this verse means the opposite of what it seems
to imply. Jesus is basically saying the eye of a needle is a door,
and we believers have the key. As my old friend David Reagan would
say, “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense or you
will end up with nonsense.”
The world is of
full of preachers who spread false doctrine. A Christian seeking to
learn God’s truth needs to avoid any ministry that is not focused
exclusively on Christ. Because the devil is so dedicated to
spreading deception, I stay away from any preacher who is
preoccupied with self-exaltation.
"Do not love the
world, or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him; because all that is in
the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and
the pride of life; which is not from the Father, but from the
world. And the world with its lust is passing away but he who does
the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15, 17).
How To Spot Arrogance
major Christian ministry has its own website today. Each week, I get
dozens of requests from people asking me what I think of the people
who run some of these sites.
enough time for me read through every article to see what these
people believe. I normally look for signs of arrogance to get a
rough idea of what type of person the site is representing. Here are
three areas I focus on:
Whenever I visit
a Christian website, the first thing I look for is what they are
providing to the public at no cost. Several Christian ministries
take in millions of dollars from products they sell, yet they offer
almost nothing on their site. Ministries that are focused on the
gospel message should offer materials free to the public. A
self-centered person will always have merchandise as a primary
Link Page –
Most people don’t
realize it is beneficial to have links to other websites. Search
Google and Yahoo award ranking partly based on the number of
links a site has to other domains. Those who are selfish normally
won't have a link page. They either don’t think any other sites
deserve their endorsement, or they fear people will escape their
A lot of people
who are arrogant feature several pictures of themselves on their
site. One site of a well-known preacher contains eight images of his
mug within the first three inches of the page. I’m at a complete
loss to understand the practical reason for such a massive amount of
I have my own
special test to measure the modesty levels of prophecy speakers I
meet at various conferences. This test has served me quite well in
determining the demeanor of men with whom I wish to establish a
Christian business relationship.
Each year, I go
to several prophecy gatherings across the nation. One of my
favorites is the
Tulsa conference hosted by Thy Kingdom Come. The primary
purpose for going to these meetings is to learn about prophecy, but
another reason for going is to meet with like-minded Christians who
share the same interest in prophecy.
ago, we started the practice of wearing silly hats at the
Tulsa conference. One year, I had a pair of bunny ears that I
asked all the speakers to wear for a photo op. Most were more than
happy to accommodate me, but some refused.
I found "the
bunny test" to be very effective in separating the self-important
people from the true servants of God. I have also used it at several
other conferences. It wasn’t always the bunny ears. The key was
something that would trigger the response, “I am too important to do
something like that.”
is the Best Policy
There is a very
practical reason we should behave with modesty. People who act
arrogantly often suffer embarrassment when their plans fail.
Jesus showed how
the lack of tact can lead to humiliation in his parable about being
invited to a marriage banquet: "When
you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a
place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by
him; and he who invited you both will come and say to you, `Give
place to this man,' and then you will begin with shame to take the
lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest
place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, `Friend, go
up higher'; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit
at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be
humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted"
A website run by
Gawker Media recently came out with a book entitled, The Gawker
Guide to Conquering All Media. The book was mocked in the press
because it only sold a scant 242 copies a month after its release.
One reviewer of the book said, “Before Gawker Media gets carried
away with dominating the world, maybe it should try to master the
In Isaiah 14:13, Lucifer provides one of the
most stunning examples of arrogance recorded in the Bible. He
said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the
congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the
heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
If Lucifer had a
more modest view of himself, he would not have lost such an
important role. He gambled everything on a futile bid for power, and
ended up with nothing.
Freedom from Yourself
In order to be
productive in the Kingdom of God, it’s important to have a humble
attitude. Many people think humility is about
having a low opinion of one's self. True
humility is beneficial because it frees us from preoccupation with
ourselves. A humble person makes a realistic assessment of himself
without illusion or pretending to be something he is not.
Someone who is prideful worries about fame, reputation, success, or
failure. A humble person does not have to wear a mask in order to
look good to others.
Sometimes, people who achieve great success fall flat on their face
once fame and fortune come their way. Famed inventor Thomas Alva Edison fell into this trap.
achieved great success by inventing the motion picture camera, the
phonograph, and a commercially useful light bulb, but he didn’t
always have such good luck. Edison had two huge failures that were
driven by his inflated ego.
He was stubbornly convinced that
AC power was inferior to DC power. Edison
launched a propaganda campaign by
electrocuting animals in public,
demonstrating that AC was too dangerous to be useful. Because DC
currents can only travel a few miles, it was doomed to lose out to
the AC current, which can travel hundreds of miles.
failure was his iron ore project. In the 1880s and 1890s, he poured
nearly all the money he had earned from his inventions into
developing a separator device that would extract iron from low-grade
ores. What little ore he was able to extract was in a powder form,
and this created a huge problem for transportation and the
refinement process. Henry Frick, of Carnegie Steel, said that he
would no longer buy the ore: “What doesn’t blow away in the railroad
cars,” he wrote Edison, “blows out the chimney as soon as the
furnace is fired.”
it had not been for the fame, Edison may have realized the
practicality of AC power. If he had a more humble approach to his
iron ore business, he might not have lost his personal fortune.
"God resists the
proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
and Preaching Don’t Mix
The nature of preaching
opens itself to criticism of arrogance. Anyone who stands in front
of others and tells them they are hell-bound sinners should expect a
True preaching is not
arrogant because the first act of preaching begins with hearing
God’s Word, which is an act of submission and humility. If a
minister does the right thing by proclaiming God’s message, if
people still have problems, they need to take it up with the Author
of the message.
Any minister who comes
across as conceited destroys the authority of the message he is
trying to promote. Preachers should never view themselves as the
conduit of grace; they are simply ambassador pointing people to the
source of salvation.
Jonah was a very arrogant
preacher. He was called by God to proclaim repentance to the
Ninevites, but he did not think they were worth saving. It required
a trip into the belly of a giant fish to convince Jonah to obey God.
Even after witnessing the Ninevites repenting from their sin in
sackcloth and ashes, he still
expected the Lord to
The most brilliant mind
on earth can not improve on the master plan already laid out in the
Bible. All anyone can hope for is being a good plagiarist. I don’t
take credit for any of my ideas. My name might be on them, but God
is the true author.
may like the role of being shepherds, but they need to realize that
the flock they are tending belongs to God.
"To the elders among you, I
appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one
who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of
God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not
because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to
be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over
those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (1 Pet.