Arrogant Americans

I found this story pretty amusing.

Apparently, a company was seeking to fill a position that involved communication with Chinese clientele. They wanted someone who was qualified, a hard worker, and not an “arrogant American” who might be so proud of their national heritage that they ruin business partnerships and opportunities with foreign clients.

I thought this was funny, first of all, because the company felt they needed to include this specification in a job description. As far as I can tell from the company’s website(s), this is a Chicago-based company, not a foreign company. So, an American company feels they need to specify that they do not want any arrogant Americans in this position. Considering the politically and socially charged climate surrounding the immigration and foreign-relations issues, I can’t say that I blame them. What company would want an “arrogant American” employee looking down his nose at foreign clients?

I also thought this was funny because of the nature of the responding criticism. It seems no one is all that upset about the “arrogant” bit of the comment. They are just riled up because of the “American” specification. They believe this could be discrimination on the basis of nationality. To tell you the truth, I think the brilliant sarcasm in the job description was lost on the critics.

This all reminds me that there is a fine line between national pride and American arrogance; between being proud of where you come from, and looking down on people from other countries. Whoever wrote that job description must know the fineness of that line, as well.

We, as Christians, miss that line all too often–and I don’t just mean when it comes to being “proud to be an American.” We stroll right across the line in our Christian pride. There have been plenty of times in my life when I have not just been proud to be a follower of Christ, but I have looked down on those who aren’t. I have been downright arrogant. And I am ashamed of that.

Jesus told us, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Then He proceeded to show us that by developing a reputation of spending time with prostitutes, tax-collectors, adulteresses, revolutionaries, doubters, liars, lepers, social outcasts, and anyone else the religious elite considered second class. And, what is our reputation as followers of Christ today? Hypocrites? Fundamentalists? Snobs? Gay-bashers? Right-wing nuts?

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe we don’t deserve all those titles. Or maybe we, like the critics in the story above, are so focused on the “Christian” part of the description, so worried that they are discriminating against us, so sure that all the name-calling is only the result of the world misunderstanding our religion, so convinced that they just don’t like Christians, that we miss the “arrogant” bit.

Is it possible that they could at least be partly right? That we have had our instances of snobbery and hypocrisy? Then we have some work to do. I have some work to do.

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:13

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8 thoughts on “Arrogant Americans

  1. “Then He proceeded to show us that by developing a reputation of spending time with prostitutes, tax-collectors, adulteresses, revolutionaries, doubters, liars, lepers, social outcasts, and anyone else the religious elite considered second class…

    And, what is our reputation as followers of Christ today? Hypocrites? Fundamentalists? Snobs? Gay-bashers? Right-wing nuts?”

    re: You hit the nail on the head! I have heard some defend such action because they fear being around “certain” sinners…fear that their name and reputation would be ruined. Pride pushes such attitudes. Those we deem as “awful sinners” are just as we are/were – HELPLESS AND HOPELESS.

    • I think that’s the real issue…we think our sins are not as sinful as the sins of others. That is the definition of pride…thinking we’re better. We’ve gotta move past that and let everyone come to Christ.

  2. Great post Clint! It is going to take some work and humbleness to acknowledge that many of us have an arrogant heart. I am not talking only about Americans or Christians but also many of us who are wounded and resent the actions of some Christians, or some people who have look down on us because of our strong accents, or simply stereotyped us and treated us not as a second class citizens, but as 5th and 6th class citizens. Personally, I have much work to do disinfecting my attitude. There is a minister who appears to have had a perfect life, marriage, career, children,etc. and in several occasions I asked him to talk about God’s redemption and the redeemed, I longed for him to mention how God change and restore lives. I said this because he usually talks and preach praising the ones who grew up “in the church,” the ones who apparently never made mistakes; so I asked him again, why don’t you mention people who like me did not grow up in the church but God accepted us, forgave us, and changed us? He answered that is better to focus on the ones who have done things right most of the time and that that was his preference. Not too many would believe that he told me that “he hates my life” (I believe that I irritated him with my words and because of that he said this), and I told him that I DO NOT hate my life, my experiences, suffering and past struggles; all of them, have made me the person I am today and believe it or not I am still able to laugh, dream, and hope. Then he said that he was just trying to say that he would not want to experience some painful events I had in my life. Now I am studying psychology and counseling from a biblical perspective–and with God’s help I hope to start graduate school in the spring of 2011–and in all my classes, internship, and readings I have not seen any approaches as the approach of this minister who considers himself “a professional counselor” (Masters in sociology). It has been difficult to attend to the services when often his words come back to my mind (Tim reminds me that we are there to worship God and that I just need to ignore him. Tim talked to him several times but it is like talking to the wall). This is one example where the wounded individual, me (and others like me), have to choose to forgive because God forgave me with forgiveness and mercy that I do not deserve; the problem is that my human weakness sometimes does not want to forget. I wish he would acknowledge that his approach was wrong, and I hope and pray that I will completely forgive him. These kinds of wounds exist between Christians and non-Christians, among Christians, Americans and foreigners, foreigners and Americans, etc. and it is going to take some humility from all the sides to acknowledge our sin, our arrogance, and resentments to begin to heal. This acknowledgment of wrongs will bring more broken lives to Christ. The ones of us who say that we are Christians need to take the first step; it would be difficult for a hurting person who does not know God to forgive or to even try to forgive. I am going to finish writing now and I am going back to my studies, thank you for continuing to make all of us think =0)
    Reina

    • Reina,
      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with discrimination. I think many Christians and preachers want to focus on those who have “grown up in the church.” The problem is that even these fine Christians (including me) have sinful and sordid pasts just like the rest of them. It may not be the “big” sins…but that didn’t make them any less lost before they committed their lives to Christ in baptism.

      Well, I pray that you can continue to be a forgiving person because the rest of us need you…and your accent.

      Thanks for the great comments.

      Clint

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