Arrogance vs. Confidence
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1 (NRSV)
Beyoncé has a song with lyrics (which I’m taking out of context): “Some call it arrogant, I call it confident.” It being one of my theme songs, I often reflect on this particular phrase. There’s a fine line between the two.
Arrogance convinces us we can pull our own selves up by our bootstraps. Confidence reminds us of our interconnectedness and interdependence.
Arrogance foolishly focuses on doing things right, leaning into unjust laws for the sake of order. Confidence wisely centers doing the right things, disrupting legal atrocities for the sake of the gospel.
Arrogance assumes our iteration of faith is the only valid one. Confidence deepens our faith as it engages others’.
Arrogance disregards deadlines and steeps in the pursuit of perfection for fear of how others might or might not accept us/our work. Confidence operates openly and risks vulnerability to fulfill the potentially unpopular calls placed in/on our lives.
Arrogance converts our fears to venomous hate. Confidence transforms our fears into audacious courage.
This psalmist has plenty of reasons to tap into an arrogant stance of vengeance and self-advancement: a trust so deep in God as to take on fear courageously. And in this trust, the psalmist exemplifies a posture we would do well to imitate: seeking God’s face, seeking connection, risking vulnerability.
As we continue to make our way toward the fear-inducing cross, perhaps we can do so with holy confidence instead of self-righteous arrogance. We need not perpetuate the very fears and oppression we face by trying to do things on our own. Instead, let us find the strength and courage we need to overcome our challenges in God; indeed, with one another.
Convert our arrogance into confidence. Transform our fears into courage. Empower us to know and be the difference.
The Rev. Phiwa Langeni is the Ambassador for Innovation & Engagement of the United Church of Christ. They are also the Founder of Salus Center, the only LGBTQ resource and community center in Lansing, MI.