According to Dictionary.com, the verb form of the word “jerk” means to pull, twist, move, thrust, or throw with a quick, suddenly arrested motion. If you struggle with arrogance, it’s time to pull, twist, move, thrust, or throw that characteristic right out of your heart, and quick! And, as fate would have it, the noun form of the word “jerk” is “a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person,” which, as a matter of fact, is exactly what you are if you behave arrogantly. A naive, fatuous, foolish JERK. GASP! You know it must be bad if I use that word. I mean, were YOU allowed to call someone a jerk when YOU were a kid? I sure wasn’t. But let’s be honest: One of the most nauseating, most abhorrent things to me is a haughty, cocky attitude. I think self-confidence is a winning personality trait toward which we should all valiantly strive, but you know as well as I do that there is a definite line between confidence and narcissism.
God says this about arrogance:
“Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:2)
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)
There’s a reason God hates pride so much. The following are characteristics of arrogant people:
—They brag about themselves. This is the one that comes to all of our minds first. It’s the obvious one. If they’ve done something good, they want you to know about it.
—90% of all conversations you have with this person are about them. They’re not so very interested in what’s going on with you. Brian Regan describes this so eloquently as the “Me Monster” in one of my favorite comedy bits EVER (probably because it absolutely rings with truth). You can watch that (and consequently laugh hysterically) here: http://youtu.be/vymaDgJ7KLg
—Out-of-context name-dropping is one of their favorite hobbies. We all know name-droppers. People who LOVE to nonchalantly mention all the big, cool people they know personally. I daresay there are some preachers who struggle with this. It’s way cool if you’re friends with some big names in the brotherhood, but you don’t have to make sure everyone is aware of that every time you open your mouth.
—They don’t look at you when you talk. Arrogant people will always be looking for someone more interesting than you in a crowd. They will only be truly focused on your conversation when they’re talking about themselves. They’ll also frequently interrupt while you’re talking.
—Their body language is always dominating. When they walk in the room, they want everyone to know they’ve arrived. Especially if they walk in late—they will swagger on in without a hint of an apology.
—They have an answer for everything. An arrogant person rarely uses the phrase, “I don’t know the answer, but I can find out.” Since arrogance is compensation for insecurities and weakness, they never want you to think that they might not know everything.
—Nothing is ever their fault. They will always blame other people for anything that goes wrong.
—They take credit when they ought to give credit to God. I don’t care if you wrote a bestselling Christian book or are the top speaker on the Christian speaking circuit or inspired the world when you fed the homeless. If you’ve done something great that has directly or indirectly led others to a relationship with God, keep in mind that God did that. He used the talents He gave you to work through you to execute His will. You were just a tool He chose to use because you allowed Him to use you.
I’m sure you could add to this list. I’m sure that no one reading this has EVER struggled with ANY of these things. For me personally, I’ve never ever ever struggled with pride or arrogance because I’m perfect in every way, of course (Ha ha). But just in case you sometimes find yourself struggling with pride at times, here are some things you can do to work through that temptation:
1. Avoid Always Taking Credit. Practice deflecting light off of yourself and on to others.
2. Praise Others. Instead of involving yourself in destructive gossip, look for GOOD things to say about others. Don’t pass up an opportunity to compliment others.
3. Help Others Succeed In Meeting Their Goals. Nothing attacks the ego as much as helping others meet their goals. Selfless people help others and expect nothing in return.
4. Admit Your Mistakes. Saying you were wrong is definitely one of the hardest things to do, but your humility and grace will shine through when you’re willing to bite the bullet and do it.
5. Learn From Others. Take notice of the good attitudes and good works of others. Acknowledge that they are better than you, and use the humility gained from that admission to better yourself.
6. Go Last. Let someone get in front of you during heavy traffic, or during a weekend rush hour at Walmart. It will do you good.
7. Thank God Frequently. Make yourself spend time in prayer everyday JUST thanking God for specific, daily blessings in your life. It will make you ever aware of how small we are and how dependent we are on God.
8. Accept Criticism With Grace. Ask yourself if the accusation is true. If it’s true, thank the person for bringing it to your attention, and commit yourself to improving. If it’s not true, thank them anyway, then toss it in the trash bin of your mind.
9. Laugh At Yourself. Really. Instead of getting your panties in a wad because of your frequent human faux pas, let yourself laugh. Learn from the mistake and then move on. Don’t let it ruin your whole day.
10. When Others Offer You Advice, Listen. Especially if it’s someone older and wiser than you. Take a few tips from people who have been around the block a few times. If it’s ungodly advice, throw it in the same place you threw the false accusations. But if it’s something that will help you in your walk with God, make sure you put your listening ears on.
What would you add to this list? What can help us to become more humble?