Besides the obvious -that people can be sincerely wrong- I learned a key lesson both about myself and others. And that was: how to(usually)tell a person isn’t convinced in their heart/conscience about what they are saying. (Of course I believed at the time that it was that they were being led by Satan or their passionate sin nature, and not God, so I could just dismiss away what they had to say. . .) Like the joke of the pastor’s outline that read, “shout and pound pulpit here, weak point”, there is a characteristic tendency here that boils down to this: If a person is fighting passionately hard to persuade you of his truths, while arrogantly putting himself above correction, don’t trust him. . . because he’s not even sure of it himself! Not only has this been true of me in the past, (Yes that was very humbling to realize) but I see this as a pattern in some very prominent leaders in society today.
Think about the leaders you listen to, and analyze them with me: Are they opinionated, strong willed and just jerks even to their own followers or anyone who kindly tries to teach them anything? Or are they teachable, humble and able to be learning constantly?
I use to think that this trait of leaders being arrogant was unique to Fundamental Pastors. Like the saying goes, “Fundamentalism means never having to say ‘I’m wrong’.” It’s actually quite classic to a lot of leaders though! (Just more common in conservatives Christians probably because they grew up already arrogantly and passionately believing they had all truth.) Leaders like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’reilly, Ray Comfort (pretty much all evangelists. . .it’s just the nature of the job.), Ken Ham. . .I can even find people like the popular health blogger, the Healthy Home Economist, who’s advice I generally like, but because of her arrogant, opinionated and unteachable nature (even when proved wrong by people who are authorities on the subject,) I stopped listening to her just on principle. (I didn’t want to add to her ego.)
While it takes a lot of passion to be a leader, it doesn’t take a lot of humility, in fact, if you had it before you got put into power, you are not likely to keep it afterwards. While it is bad to be proud, it doesn’t stop there. . . In this age of information, when you are proud and unteachable, that naturally leads to being uninformed. Choosing to thus be uninformed because you would rather be “right”in your own eyes or have faith in your source, is just plain dumb now I realize. When I trusted in my own wisdom, faith and passion in the past, it led me astray. . .(even if only rarely.) If and when I am not willing even today to let others reason with me, or if I only allow myself to listen to or read approved sources for truth, (lest I change my mind or I “fall away”). . .That will only make me ignorant, and/or behind the times. (Inevitably I will have to be part of a small group who are likewise either stupid, or sticking their heads in the sand arrogantly believing themselves to have truth that trumps the rest of the educated world. They will at some point have to find humility in reality, and have some scary backtracking to do because of their following . . .at which point they will either gain respect and self esteem, or choose to live a lie for awhile longer.)
So are the people you following proud, unteachable, and arrogant, as a general rule? You may like most of their advice, but if they are trying to lead,( while being left in the dust because of their arrogance,) they may not be the leaders you think they are, so much as followers of yesterdays wisdom.
You know what a leader is, right. . .? One who’s just slower then the rest of us:) Or so it seems while driving! And speaking of, Have you ever noticed that anyone going slower than you is an “idiot” and anyone going faster than you is a “maniac?“
So one could say that the leaders (slow ones) are usually idiots, whereas the one’s
actually going somewhere (the progressive ones) are looked down upon by those following the idiots. There’s a moral for those gullible followers here if you look. . .like as in driving, a humble person looks for reasons for the behavior, and doesn’t merely let prejudice guide his presumptions and judgments. (My husband will tell you a common saying of mine when being passed up by a speedy driver is, “maybe he was driving his pregnant wife to the Hospital. . .)
So is there hope for those arrogant, unteachable leaders?
In my experience, and from what I have seen, we need to first remove ourselves from leadership for a while. . . where we are more likely to objectively look at ourselves. You see, when you are in a ministry (or any leadership position,) you are going to be too busy preaching your thoughts, and the latest defense for them. You will not likely to give any time to research anything that might actually change those thoughts. Also, as a leader you have a lot of invested interest into not looking into or considering openmindedly any info that would cause you to lose face, or your position . . .(For this reason, there are teachers and professors as well as pastors who are forced to live a lie!)
You are also going to be told by your many gullible followers just how wonderful, talented and smart you are, and you aren’t likely to second guess yourself or be humble with all the constant flattery. Only people who are humble, nonjudgmental and scientifically minded are able and willing to look into the reasons why another person thinks something different then you. Which is why any moral or scientific progress happens and is encouraged by teachable and humble people. . .
Next I will discuss how the progressive thinkers in the churches have always been considered the wise and teachable (even Christ-like) leaders when looking back on them, but were the heretics of their time!