Being Right, Gracefully
I’ve gotta admit, I love being right. It’s like a drug to me. And I’m most definitely strung out on it.
Now that doesn’t mean that I always feel like I have to have all the answers. I’m pretty quick to say “I have no idea”, even about stuff that I should know the answer to but don’t. I don’t mind pulling over and asking for directions; in fact, I’m pretty quick to do it. But don’t mistake any of that for humility, because it’s not. It’s just me avoiding being wrong. Because if I open my mouth about something I’m not 100% certain of I might be wrong. And I just don’t think my poor self could bear it. Because just like being right is a drug, being wrong about something is the antidote that will kill any high that being right will give me.
You see when I’m right I feel like a Bald Eagle, with an American Flag tattoo (yeah, it’d work under my feathers), wearing aviators and dropping nukes on Iran from one of my awesome Bald Eagle talons while giving some hot chicks (haha…chicks) a wink and fingergun point with the other. But when I’m wrong I feel like a crooked necked emu on roller skates.
Or at least that’s what I imagine being wrong would feel like, I don’t actually know. The only time I was ever wrong about something was one time when I thought I was wrong about something. (See, there it goes again…)
So you can imagine how difficult it is for me to be right, and graceful, at the same time. So how are we supposed to manage being right and not acting like an idiot?
Well, I’ve decided to start with PlaysWithFire’s verse, Proverbs 29:11…. A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. I’ve learned that, for me anyway, most anything that I’m naturally inclined to do is probably the wrong thing. I’m not saying that I was created with a corrupted or depraved spirit, but just that I seem to have a lot of bad ideas about how to do and say some things. And most of us are like that, I think. We tend to assume that we know best and to give full vent to our spirit, rather than let the wisdom of God’s word be seen in us.
We just finished studying the book of Daniel in class on Sunday mornings and the teacher has been doing a great job of highlighting how Daniel was always so graceful about being right. I think that a big part of why Daniel was able to be so graceful was because he realized that his “right-ness” wasn’t because of his own ability. In the second chapter of Daniel, Daniel is about to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and save not only himself and his friends but all of the “wise men of Babylon” as well. But when Daniel approached Nebuchadnezzar it wasn’t with an “I’m right and they’re wrong” attitude. Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar in 2:28 There is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter day.
Daniel realized that the knowledge he had came from God and not from his own wisdom.
And we should probably realize the same thing, that there’s very little of our knowledge that doesn’t come from somewhere else….A co-worker who has showed us the ropes, or a teacher that’s taken the time to tutor us, or a sage old veteran of life who’s taken us under their wing, or most obviously the wisdom that we find in God’s word. When I take the time to acknowledge that all my “right-ocity” really doesn’t originate from me, it helps keep me from being so haughty about it.
And look at what Daniel says in 2:30… But as for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your mind.
Daniel is acknowledging here not only that the interpretation of the dream was given to him by God, but that it was given to him for a reason. And that reason wasn’t about Daniel.
Here is Daniel, kidnapped and thrown into slavery, his friends will later be thrown into a fiery furnace, he’ll be thrown into a den of lions—And Daniel wasn’t given the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream to remedy any of this. Daniel was right about the dream’s interpretation and everyone else was wrong, but it wasn’t for Daniel’s benefit.
We see that the interpretation of the dream was given to Daniel for the benefit of Nebuchadnezzar…. and that you may know the thoughts of your mind. Eventually the message seems to have gotten through to Nebuchadnezzar and in 4:37 he says Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
And I think that we’d all (or me, at least) probably do a better job of reigning in our arrogance if we realized that the knowledge we have can be put to good use for the benefit of others, rather than just to build up our own ego.
We’d do well to remember that the knowledge and “right-aciousness” we have can be of tremendous benefit to everyone around us…as long as we don’t present it with the obligatory IToldYouSo dance.
Have I completely implemented all this in my life? Obviously not. Around 800 words ago I likened myself to a nuke dropping bird of prey. But I’m working on it.
And just because I haven’t mastered the art of humility doesn’t mean you can’t. You can even be better at it than me. And then tell me how I’m doing humility wrong and you’re doing it right. I won’t mind.