In watching football during bowl season I have observed that we, as a society, seem to value things that are (in the big picture) valueless. I have spoken before about sports media, athletes and our young people believing that "swag" is a virtue. Self-proclamation, self-praise and histrionics are all parts of swag. It is interesting that several personality disorders and a high percentage of patients in mental institutions display histrionic personality disorder ... an excessive need for approval and attention. The disorder is all about making oneself large, important, seductive, important and seen.
Enter Scripture. Scripture calls for us to become small ... in fact, smallness seems to be a Biblical virtue and discipline. John the Baptist said (in John 3) "He must become greater ... I must become less." Jesus said (in Luke 22:26) "The one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest ... the leader like the servant." John Maxwell points out that one of the common traits among the leaders of the biggest and most powerful corporations is the trait of humility. Jesus even said of Himself (Matthew 11:29 "for I am meek and humble of heart." There is no virtue of swag or self-importance. There is humility. Read the Beatitudes. Read Philippians 2:8 ... "he humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminals death on a cross." Ultimate humility!
So ... why is swag admired by the sports media? Why is self-importance and self-praise viewed as a virtue? Because something is wrong. There is a disconnect! We will (tonight) watch the pomp and glitz of New Years Eve celebrations. Some of us will project ourselves into the New Year as bigger than life ... greater than our problems ... able to overcome our issues out of our will power and our might. May I offer a suggestion?
There is a story about a young pastor who had come to a new church and was ready to come in, guns-blazing as he would wow, impress and blow-away the simple people at the church. He went up to the podium that first Sunday proud, confident and full-of himself. Things didn't go so well. As little mistakes and a self-praising message didn't impress the people his confidence and countenance got further and further down. He left the podium with his head low, his pride gone and his swag thrown down in the dirt. An elderly lady sidled up to his and gave him some wise words ... "If you had gone up there like you came down, everything would have worked out fine." She knew ... humility, not swag, is the virtue ... and the spiritual discipline. Randy