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I’m Arrogant.

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I’m Arrogant.

I sat there completely shocked at the sudden turn of the conversation.  Throughout my entire body, I was struggling to maintain composure.

My boss and I had this meeting on the books for several weeks to discuss my future with the organization.  With my son coming soon, I would be taking off work for a few weeks to help my wife out.  But many things were changing in my life and we were both wondering about my future with the team.  I was expecting a job offer from another organization any day and I was coming to him for his advice and thoughts.

In the middle of our talk, he dropped a bombshell on me.

“There is something you’re doing in the office… I don’t even know what it is but you’re coming across as arrogant to others on the team.”

My heart just sank.

I know plenty of people who don’t care what others have to say about them.  They are about the truth, success, or whatever else.  If others have an issue with it, that’s their problem.  I’m not one of those guys.

Relationships are everything to me, whether it’s family, friends, or coworkers.  I tediously cultivate them however I can.  I hate knowing I’ve given off such a terrible impression.  Over the next several weeks, I turned deeply inward.  I neurotically analyzed everything about my body language, my tone, and my words.  I was socially paralyzed.

I wasn’t mad at my boss.  We have enjoyed a great history together and I’ve never doubted his genuine concern for others or me.  In fact, he is one of the most caring men I’ve ever met.  I knew he wouldn’t drop something like this on me if he didn’t believe it mattered.  This wasn’t anger, bitterness, or the result of a bad day.  This was truth… and it hurt.

 

Putting Failures in Perspective

We just celebrated my wife’s 30th birthday last weekend.  Coupled with the fact I am now 28, the two of us have been discussing the concept of “discovering ourselves” that seems to dominate twenty-somethings.  We’ve been married for five years now, long enough to own up to our flaws and begin honestly working through them together.  As a result, we each have a much clearer picture of who we want to be, who we are today, and the things that hold us back.

Coming to grips with character flaws is one of the most difficult parts of adulthood.  You can’t truly discover yourself unless you’re willing to come face-to-face with your own failures, weaknesses, and downright brokenness.   Personally, this has meant facing my arrogance, emotional sensitivity, and a strict need to remain organized fueled by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  While these things are incredibly difficult to face, nothing has helped me understand how God designed me more than facing them head-on.   Over the years, I’ve come to realize that character flaws and weaknesses are really just the perversion of one’s strengths and gifts.  Discover your flaws, and you’ll find your strengths.

In the beginning, God created us perfectly.  He put his image inside of us, created us in his likeness, and carefully crafted each of us with specific qualities that magnify him.

But then Eve ate the fruit.  Adam followed suit.  Creation shattered and we did too.  Our fallen nature doesn’t just mean that we sin.  It means that the unique qualities and strengths God gave us are now perverted.  Rather than defaulting to intimacy and worship, we default to unchecked selfishness.  As a result, our strengths produce unintended consequences in our lives as we use them to glorify ourselves over our Creator.

 

Brokenness Played Out

Through the years, I’ve learned that God has designed me for leadership.  I have very strong convictions and I love sharing them with others.  I like taking difficult concepts and making them easier to understand.  I have a high emotional intelligence that allows me to read people well and respond accordingly.  I’m addicted to helping people work through issues, finding solutions to problems at work, and casting a vision that impacts the people around me.

But I’ve never met a leader who wasn’t at least a little smug.  It takes a very different kind of person to think he or she can lead others.  It requires the conviction that you have a vision others don’t have and you can lead them somewhere they couldn’t go on their own.  If you practice this in a way that points to Christ, it can be a beautiful thing.  If you do it to raise your own profile, you’ll burn everyone around you.  Since we are all fallen, it is a guarantee this will break down into arrogance at some point or another.

Likewise, high emotional intelligence is great for understanding other people.  It helps you relate to their problems more easily and empathize appropriately.  But if used incorrectly, you can be a manipulative jerk who easily tears others down with a perfectly crafted phrase.  I dare someone to live a full lifetime and not fall into this trap at least once.

 

Responding to Weakness

As you face your own flaws, there are three ways to respond:

1.     Respond with despair.  You can see those things you hate most about yourself and respond with absolute brokenness.  The person who does this will be remorseful and insecure for a few weeks until he or she can find a way to ignore them.  Inevitably, they will come right back with a much stronger punch.  Remorse is only half of the correct response.  Remorse is only valuable when it drives you to action.  Otherwise, it only makes matters worse.

2.     Respond with denial.  Where unchecked remorse will eventually destroy you, denial will destroy everyone else.  We have all had the unfortunate experience of getting caught in the wake of someone who refuses to recognize his own imperfections.  This usually happens when someone is so self-serving that he can’t face his own flaws without tearing down the only thing he has ever built – his own ego.  This person is a ticking time bomb, poised to destroy everyone around him at any moment.  Deny your flaws and you’ll only hurt those you love the most.

3.     Respond with conviction and grace.  It’s good to feel the weight of your flaws but it’s important to understand that they don’t define you.  You can’t leave them unchecked but you also can’t let them rule your life.  If your flaws stem from God-given strengths, then they can only be minimized by leaning into him.

You can only become the person you were created to be when you fully know your Creator.  God didn’t design your flaws but they don’t surprise him.  In fact, he allowed his Son to be crucified to give you freedom from them.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now resides inside you and me.  Only he can show you the strengths in which your flaws are derived.   And only he can give you the power to use your strengths appropriately and minimize your weaknesses.

Discuss:  Which character flaws do you struggle to overcome?

Posted in: Discipleship

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