I write this post with some reticence. Last week, I posted about humility I’ve seen in others, and today I write about the other side of that coin. I hesitate to write it, though, because to declare anyone else “arrogant” is to risk wearing the same brand. I’m aware that some of these traits are in me, too, so I confess them here first.
- They use the phrase, “I hope I don’t sound arrogant here, but . . . .” My experience is that if we feel the need to use this wording, we’re probably dangerously close to bragging about something.
- They deny any arrogance. Genuinely humble people recognize they could be arrogant; genuinely arrogant people often don’t recognize that trait in themselves. Arrogance, they think, is a characteristic of other people who really aren’t as good as they think they are.
- They want to know everything. Knowing all the details about everyone and everything else is a subtle route to power from the inside – and arrogant people let others know how much they’re on the inside.
- They criticize others who receive praise. Sometimes the criticism is cloaked in praise (e.g., “I’m happy for him. I never thought he’d get that kind of recognition”), but it’s more often a strong questioning of the recipient’s worth.
- They pray little publicly. This one may surprise you, but I’ve seen humble people pray naturally and recurrently – while folks who exhibit more of these other characteristics seem to pray only because the situation demands it. Arrogance doesn’t require the dependence that prayer demands.
- They talk about themselves a lot. It might be simply a report about their ministry, but their conversations seldom veer much from what they’re doing.
- They’re defensive when rebuked. Their first reaction is to justify themselves, even when it’s a friend who offers the rebuke. Overall, they’re not very teachable.
- They’re not good listeners. It’s tough to focus on somebody else when your world is wrapped up in yourself.
Again, I write from my knees because I recognize my own tendencies in these words. May I learn more than anyone from this post.