As I grew in responsibility, at first I made a joke of it, but it niggled and I wondered why I (and so many others) were always out of the loop. Were we simply inattentive and wrapped up in ourselves? Probably to some degree.
But eventually penetrating my naiveté came the realization that some people have a deep desire to know all the trivia of other peoples lives. Partly I think they didn't like what they saw in themselves, and partly because it made them feel like they were the insiders in the know ... they had an advantage. (I guess today we see this in peoples desire for reality TV! Given the popularity of reality TV, it's scary to think how many people actually want another life!)
Meanwhile, others were more busy getting on with the business of living. And so it slowly dawned on me that there are different ideas of importance. There's always the undeniable importance that we all see in inherent authority, and then there's our own innate importance that comes from simply existing (as in “of course everyone is important”). However, there's also that type of importance that comes because you're Important with a capital I (pun intended)!
At a young age this started me formulating a theory. Alongside the undeniable importance (like God, air, and food), the “I'm-important-with-a-capital-I” people only deign to pay attention to the “merely-importance-because-I-exist” people because, otherwise, they would have no-one to recognize their Importance; such people need my own existence simply in order to validate their self-ascribed worth.
For a long time I didn't get this! Maybe I was a bit slow, and the Important people were all along making decisions that, by and large, were ok as far as I was concerned. I was the beneficiary of decisions supposedly made in my interest, and yet somehow I never seemed to be included in the making of any of the decisions. As time went on I started to realize that some people create their Importance by the specific exclusion of others from their deliberations; but really its nothing more than a pretense of power.
And so I began to see the expression of Importance everywhere; in groups, in politicians, in churches! The inner circle, carefully guarding their knowledge for fear of losing Importance. And out of it comes decision makers who are less than wise and perhaps somewhat silly, if not even stupid. It isn't that the inner circle is necessarily any better than the rest, it was usually that they had inveigled their way into a position of perceived authority. It's democracy all over, that necessary evil. We get the leaders we deserve, because society can't abide meritocracy in case we're shown up for what we are -- less great than we'd like to think!
It's subtle, it's the art of hidden arrogance. Self deceived, the Important people probably don't even recognize it. They arrange confidential meetings, have power breakfasts, surround themselves with the latest gadgets regardless of need, fill their schedules so as to be so busy that they shut out the echo of their empty heads.
They only communicate on a need-to-know principle , as if we were in a time of war and they don't dare risk others finding out any details. They retain knowledge because knowledge is power, power is energy, and energy (as Einstein so eloquently tells us) is mass*. So these become heavy people.
Why? Because of course, don't you see, it's they who understand the bigger picture, they know more of the details, they understand the nuance, they see the devil in the detail, so they must be wiser. They are better than you and I. Hmmph. Well, ok, maybe in some rare instances that's so, and maybe also sometimes its only because they're keeping me in the dark (and sometimes perhaps they're simply doing a deal with the devil of detail). And maybe, just maybe, they don't actually know as much as they think they do.
So I object. I want to know more than they think I need to know. I want to know enough to choose if I want to make my voice heard. I want to build a track record of trust based on what I know, not on what they choose to tell me. I can hear the echo of the voice of God too, I feel His tug on my heart as well, and He tells me a lot more than I merely need!
Maybe, just maybe, some decision makers are slip-sliding into the art of arrogance, painting simple pictures complicated by hidden codes, and with assumed authority they beneficently pile abuse on those that voluntarily accept their voice – at least for a time.
I think I understand now a bit more what Paul means when he says to Timothy “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor”.
And perhaps I can guess at what Paul implies, “Let the elders who rule badly be considered worthy of little honor.”
May I be humble enough never to even think of being so arrogant that I lay claim to the difficult mantle of double honor; that is for those who truly lead by God's grace.