A wave of populism swept across the United States with surprising results. A similar wave recently shocked Great Britain, and there are populist rumblings in such places as France and Spain. Populism wells up when the experts forget whom they serve. Experts often operate from their bubbles, assuming they know best for people they do not know; for people they do not understand. In short, it is easy for experts to become arrogant.
In a way, the formula is not that hard to understand. Experts make things work. They pull the levers of culture and technology and finance in such a way that there is progress, and people enjoy the fruits of the their genius. But when there is no progress, it then becomes apparent that the experts are not so expert. After all, an expert who cannot figure out the puzzle can hardly be called an expert, can he (she)? And when the so-called experts do not perform, well, it’s time to throw the bums out.
It seems that had those experts adopted the mindset of humble servants from the beginning and throughout the process, they would have been better listeners, learners and guides. They would have taken leave for a time from the university campus in order to mix with those on the shop floor; or left the financial district to walk through the slum. Perhaps they would have even wept when faced with the unintended consequences of their latest, great idea and policy. But as we know, these are rare occurrences. More often than humility, we find arrogance.
There is no such thing as an arrogant servant. If he is a servant, then he cannot be arrogant; and she is arrogant, she cannot be a servant. The two words are antithetical to each other.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to humble service. This applies to our lives at home, with spouse and children and parents; it applies to school, and our treatment of schoolmates and teachers; it applies to work, and our interactions with fellow workers, and those above us, and below us. We are to love others, which requires us to consider what is good, not just for ourselves, but for others, and to go out of our way to make your wife’s life richer; your teammate’s role more fulfilling; the custodian’s job more satisfying.
We need to remember that it takes but 2 minutes for the populist to secure a supposed victory, and to go from being forgotten or ignored, to being arrogant and insufferable. Let’s, instead, be like Jesus, and live lives of humble service.