The Arrogance of Power from Born To Win
Posted by Job on May 20, 2008
It is a challenging task to remain humble when people tell you how great you are. Look at the leaders of Israel, many of whom began as humble servants, but who later battled and sometimes lost the war with their egos.
Moses, who was called the meekest man on earth, one time lost his patience and struck a rock for water, shouting, “Must we fetch water from a rock for you?” In thus doing, he claimed the credit for himself, and not for God.
King Saul, the reluctant first king of Israel, came to crave his position and power so much that he ceased to obey God and his prophet, seeking his own ways.
King David, called a man after God’s own heart, abandoned God’s ways too many times, stealing other men’s wives, having innocent men killed, allowing his wayward children to wreck the nation, and taking a military census in order to glorify his own power rather than God’s. His repeated acts of sincere repentance brought him back to God, but it could not undo much of the damage he brought to others’ lives.
David’s son, Solomon, began his reign humbled before God. “I am but a child,” he proclaimed. The greatness God gave him was his ruin, as he accumulated wealth through heavy taxation and worker’s levies, pursued too many women, built too many palaces, and followed too many gods.
Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jehosaphat, generally righteous kings, all succumbed to the arrogance of power.
All of these men were men of God and knew his greatness. When they were little in their own eyes, God honored them as they honored God, but success has a way of taking a surrendered, humble disposition and turning it into an overbearing presence.
That’s a major reason why we should pray for those running for political office, that they may understand the limits of their power. The adulating crowds that surround them are a potential millstone that can drag them—and us—into despairs we don’t want.
But it is not just the rich and famous who are susceptible to the viper’s head of egotism. Anyone given a small bit of notoriety or leadership can come to believe that he deserves it and even created it. Those in leadership at church or employment can succumb to the subtle creep of arrogance. The danger lurks for all of us.
If we realize that it is God who sets up kings and takes down kings, and that authority is a responsibility and not a privilege—if we realize that it is loaned to us for a short time for works of service, then we will not abuse it. We get into trouble when it becomes all about us. That’s when the arrogance of power corrupts.