I shared with a seminary class last week, “The greatest danger of being in the ministry comes when we get good at it.” That is true because arrogance happens when we think we have arrived. It can become the detriment of greatness as mediocrity make its way into organizations, ministries, teams and lives.
The good news is that arrogance always leaves behind danger signs for leaders. First, we assume we know what is needed before others ever speak. Alternatives and solutions are automatically limited because of our limited capacity to receive. Second, we feel the need to have the answer to all the questions. Our role as learner has been superseded by our need to always be the teacher and fill in the blanks. Third, our need to always be right means we tolerate other’s ideas only to the extent they don’t hinder what we really want.
Here is a critical step for leaders as we battle arrogance. We should ask questions continuously. I had a friend once tell me “you will NEVER get the correct understanding of the situation until you ask a question for the THIRD time! The first answer is the “comfortable” one. The second answer gives some additional information. BUT people don’t think you REALLY want to KNOW what is difficult or painful….disappointing or contrary to your feelings…..until you ask the question for the THIRD time.” (Thanks Bob Douglas). Great leaders are never afraid to ask questions and admit they need help. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you have the strength to open the door to participation and close the door on arrogance.