Labels#5. “Arrogant!”

In my early teens, I attended a few evening Bible Classes held at a Catholic school. One of the classes covered the mythical story of Narcissus, the handsome young man who fell in love with his own reflection. Though there is more to the story, it ends with him gazing into a pool of water and slowly pining away and dying.

In recent years we have heard the term Narcissus applied to more than a few people; both great and ordinary alike. Indeed, some are just that.

But in some cases, I have thought that the behaviour being described was more situational than pathological. When a person with a typically pleasant demeanour suddenly becomes extremely selfish, their actions may be reflecting intense defensiveness rather than entrenched narcissism.

Though likely that only a few people we know have been labelled “Narcissistic,” a lot more has been, rightly or wrongly, labelled “Arrogant.”

Let me say up front that it is impossible for an arrogant person to remain in a congregation without being enabled to do so; by some or all the members.

Most tragic is when it is accepted among those who preach and teach. Thus, the apostle warns: “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Admittedly, arrogance is a state that all of us drift in and out of. It often shows itself for what it really is—puerile and spiteful—when we treat others as less important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We must check each other during those gossip fests; those sessions where we elevate our talents before our friends by criticising the works of others. After all, “love does not brag and is not arrogant, (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The arrogant are tolerated in churches, because like the mythical Narcissist, they are “attractive and self-assured.” They are also dangerous and will wreck any church they are welcomed in.

The easiest way to get rid of the label, “Arrogant,” is to be humble. For that, Jesus shows the way.

John Staiger


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