What is the difference between being arrogant and feeling significant knowing that people rely on you?
Is wanting to feel important good?
Every human has a need for significance, but if that is lost then the door is opened to drug addiction, self-harm or suicide.
1. The human need for significance
It is possible to feel needed, and hence important, in the simplest of situations.
Give a child the responsibility of feeding the pet rabbit and if the task is embraced will make the child feel purposeful.
Making, repairing, maintaining, and producing things gives a feeling of satisfaction and makes us feel significant.
Winning at sports and games and trying to be the best at everything we do will make us stand out from the crowd making us feel big and great.
Making others feel important will also make us feel essential and important.
Being a people pleaser will potentially make others like us and that in turn will make us feel valued.
2. The difference between being important and being the greatest
A number of people want to be famous, important and to have a celebrity lifestyle.
Not everyone can be a celebrity, be great and live in a mansion, but everyone can feel important.
Wanting to feel important and admired by others can be an ego trap.
The position feeds the ego while it is going well, but easily leads to frustration because it relies heavily on the opinions of the general public which is constantly changing.
Wanting to be great, climb up the ladder and stamp on people on the way up is a very nasty trait.
Wanting to be great often involves putting others down, so be careful!
Feeling important can be good or bad.
If this importance is built upon arrogance and pushing people down that is very, very bad.
But anyone can feel important in the correct way, take for example a mother or father raising a child in a loving way, that is so good and so important.
In the Bible, there are two views of importance, the first is portrayed by King David in one of his Psalms:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,Psalm 8:3-4 ESV
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him…”
David, like most of us, when we look at the vastness of space feels unimportant.
That is not a bad thing, because if it makes God great that’s good.
The other view of importance in the Bible is that rebellious humans are so important to God that He sent His Son, as God in human flesh, so he could be the Saviour of the world.
Yes, we are incredibly important to God, so important that God the Father made all that turn to Him His children.
3. Jesus’ disciples argue about who is the greatest
Do you remember when Jesus’ followers were arguing over who was the greatest? (Mark 9:33-34)
Would Jesus say: “Well done!”
The disciples were arguing over who was the greatest among them and unbelievably this was now their third and final year of training!
Just imagine the situation, Jesus had chosen the disciples to carry on His work.
He was shortly going to die, so the disciples were going to carry on proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
But they were arguing, and bickering about which one of them was the best.
What a total shambles!
Could Jesus really hand over the leadership responsibilities, to these men?
Can you imagine how Jesus would have felt?
Here He was, the Son of God, humbly going to His crucifixion, where He was to suffer and die in total humiliation.
He was going to give His life as a ransom to set us free, and there were His followers arguing, over who was the greatest!
What pain and disappointment that must have been for Jesus.
What sort of actions, could be interpreted as: ‘I am better than you’?
Above is the picture of Mohammed Ali, the boxing champion, – he used to say: ‘I am the greatest!’
We wouldn’t say things like that, would we?
Well, no, we wouldn’t as such, but it is a lot more subtle than that.
What about if we snub people in conversation? We cut across what they are saying.
Perhaps we think, that what we’ve got to say, is more important, than what they’ve got to say.
We may feel superior to that person.
OK, we haven’t said; ‘I am the greatest.’
But that person we have just snubbed feels as if it has been said.
Also God, certainly saw us in effect saying: ‘I am superior to you.’
Jesus said to His disciples, and He also says the same to us;
If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”Mark 9:35 NIV
Being first in the world often means pushing oneself forward, and putting others down.
But it shouldn’t be like that for Christians.
Do we like to win in a conversation? Do we like to be, the top dog of a group?
Notice Jesus asked the disciples, what they had been arguing about.
He knew very well, what it was all about.
He wanted them to confess, this fault they had.
4. Jesus’ solution to arrogance
But they remained silent, they were ashamed to own up to it.
Notice what Jesus did.
He sat down and called the disciples to Himself.
He put aside His hurt, and His disappointment, and He humbly taught them, by giving them an illustration, to teach them humility.
Jesus put a young child in the midst of them. It was a place of honour.
That child had their attention.
What would their reaction be to this little one?
They could have thought;
- Come on Jesus! We’ve got more important things to be getting on with!
- What can we learn, from such a young child?
- ‘We’ve come to hear You, and not to waste any more of our time.
Jesus then took the child into His arms, and He said to them:
Whoever welcomes one of these little children, in My name, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me”Mark 9:37 NIV
Some people may have no time for little children.
Perhaps they think that they are too important to put themselves out, that it will be a waste of time.
Perhaps we hold the same view when we come across some other Christians.
But if we welcome them, we are welcoming Jesus Christ the Son of God and God the Father!
Just think of all that fellowship with God, we could be missing out on!
While on the earth, Jesus lived a most humble and self-denying life.
Although He was a man, and God, He made time for people, including poor people, and simple people.
Jesus asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’Mark 9:33-3 NIV
But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said,
‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’
He took a little child and had him stand among them.
Taking him in His arms, He said to them,
‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My Name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me’ …”
References – open in new tabs:
Boxing glove image: thanks to ‘The Pictorial Dictionary’ published by The Educational Book Company, London.