Humility: Being right can make you arrogant

Am I the only one who struggles with being right while trying to embrace humility? I can keep my head down when I am not sure if I’m right. But when I know that I’m right pride invades my bloodstream and enters my head like an unhealthy thought.

I feel sorry for my wife when I’m right because that’s when she experiences the worst of me. She endures the worst criticism when I’m right. And she suffers unbearable bullying when I’m right. Yet, she remains patient, understanding and loving when I’m busy parading folly.

I don’t know of any other woman who has been through worse. When things got tough in the US, she juggled two jobs. One of which was at Amazon. Yes, that Amazon famous for overworking and mistreating employees.

But her worst abuse came from me when I thought I was right. Being right transformed me into a condescending jerk, an argumentative pinhead, and a plain fool.

This article is for people like me, jerks, pinheads and fools who really want to learn how to stay humble in a selfie generation. It’s for people who struggle with pride and conceit when they know they’re right. Because our actions are destroying our relationships with those who matter the most.

A quick and funny humility and arrogance test

Take this test to see if you should continue reading.

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If you answered No or I don’t know to any of the 10 questions, you should probably continue reading. This article is for you.

4 Embarrassing Confessions of an Arrogant Christian

Humility and arrogance in the selfie generation

1. Too Bible literate to be patient

Firstly, I have been a Christian since January 2nd, 2002. Since then I have always been studying the Bible. I can drop Bible verses from memory like showers of rain in a Zimbabwean summer. And that makes it hard for me to be patient with people who I perceive as Bible illiterate. I have burnt relationships as a result and I need to learn the importance of humility in sustaining Christian fellowships.

2. Too knowledgeable to be nice

Secondly, I’m a voracious reader and my wife knows this is an understatement. She thinks I’m always reading something new. And she’s right. Because of the wide constant reading, I know a lot of things. That’s good, but that’s the biggest problem because knowledge without love is the breeding ground of arrogance (1 Corinthians 8:1).

3. Too educated to be reasonable

Thirdly, I am educated and I have always been the smartest of the bunch. I can remember things that happened twenty years ago with great accuracy. And I solved my first math equation in sixth grade. It was a quadratic equation. Humility doesn’t come easily with me.

4. Too successful to be humble

Fourthly, I have written a couple of books, chapters in academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles. Not only that, I run a pretty decent blog with an enviable monthly traffic. And this often gets into my head driving away humility, as result.

Why you can be right and be wrong

I once read Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect. And there’s a statement in the book I thought could be useful in my marriage:

You can be right, but wrong at the top of your voice.

I wanted to remind my wife about this if we had an argument. Unfortunately, I married the most soft-spoken woman. And my plan failed.

But through my actions, I have learned that you’re not only wrong on top of your voice but because of the intent of words. In the Letter to Philippians, Paul identified two things that can make you be right yet wrong.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3‭-‬4

1. Selfish ambition

The US election 2016 offered the world a perfect example on what is selfish ambition and what are the effects of selfish ambition. Selfish ambition is an unholy desire to put oneself forward even at the expense of others. This has become the modus operandi to the US presidential election and it’s not surprising November 8 left the country fractured.

This tragedy can happen in your marriage too if you permit strife, contentions, and electioneering in your household.

2. Conceit

Fact. People hate theology because of theologians. I think seminaries should have a full class on humility and gentleness. But pride when you’re right, or when you think you’re right is a groundless self-esteem.

What matters is not how much you know, but what you lived. Otherwise, you’re just ever learning and failing to come to the knowledge of the truth.

How to be right and be right

I can write an ultimate guide on how to be right and be wrong as an expert. My wife can attest to that.

But the amazing thing is Jesus Christ doesn’t disown me or threaten to reject me because of my stupidity. He continues to pour his love and shower me with his goodness. And the most shocking thing is, this Christ is always right. He’s the full embodiment of being right, yet he remains humble.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5‭-‬8

These Bible verses show how we can become humble by following the example of Jesus Christ.

1. Jesus Christ didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped

He wasn’t obsessed with his position, power, possessions and qualifications. The Creator of the universe was humble before his creation. But if you’re someone who doesn’t know how to be right, you make it your ambition to remind people of your position, power, possessions and qualifications.

2. Jesus Christ was obedient up to the extent of dying an embarrassing death

Pride hates embarrassment, it avoids it and runs from it. Yet, Jesus Christ was humiliated even though he was God. I can’t handle being embarrassed, especially when I am right. But Christ did and in a more painful way.

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4 Comments

  1. So very true Edmond, and I have to be careful for the same reasons. Unlike you though, I was married to a covert narcissist who had only been pretending to be a Christian, so when I humbled myself before him, he took my love as control. Whew- but your words are wise. We need to keep right relationship in mind, especially humility before God.

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  2. Pride, my greatest enemy that I have to watch for. I was a ego-tripping narcissist before I was saved. So much so the change was noticed as the Holy Spirit changed me.

    Now I have to watch out and not become Pharasaical

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  3. Great “food for thought”, especially that we’re in the season of Advent.

    For some reason, Ithought about “The Name of the Rose” when the old monk wags his finger and says, “William of Baskerville must always prove himself right.”

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  4. Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate so much your transparency. Your comments were so thought-provoking. I was humbled and deeply moved as I read your words and took the survey. Thanks.

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