Sunday, July 31, 2011


Attitude. That’s about 75% of winning or losing.

I recently downloaded Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, to my iPod. As I take my evening walks I can read without reading - a good way to kill an hour while on my trek.

The author, Malcom Gladwell, cited a study by a marriage counselor who stated that most marriages breakup because of one crucial reason – CONTEMPT. The underlying reason for conflict is a husband or wife who has contempt for their partner. Words like “You’re stupid,” “You’re lazy,” “You’re irresponsible,” or “You’re fat,” are all contempt statements. Gladwell says you can see the contempt in marriage counseling as the husband or wife rolls their eyes when the other speaks.

Contempt rears its ugly head in all relationships: children’s contempt for parents, employee/employer contempt in the workplace and even in the church among laymen/clergy. If at any time there is interpersonal conflict, usually there is one person who somehow feels they are superior and they manifest that feeling with contempt on those they perceive as being not quite as equal as they are.

I have often observed this arrogance on the mission field. Call it ethnocentrism bigotry or intolerance; the petulant attitude displayed is always a spirit of contempt. Caste and tribe conflict is due to contempt. Muslims killing other Muslims, Hindu’s killing Christians, are a result of a contemptuous attitude. Missionaries, which have a disdain for nationals, is a by-product of contempt. It’s a universal disease.

I’m not sure the root problem that resides in the heart of the contemptuous. Perhaps it is a feeling of insecurity or the desire to control or to manipulate. It seems that in every conflict unresolved, a wounded soul reverts to contempt. How different from the attitude of Jesus. The Pharisees had contempt for just about everyone who they perceived as not following the Law. Jesus, however, was a friend of sinners. The Apostle Paul has a good remedy for contempt: in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippines 2:3,4). If we do that, surely we will not sit among the scornful (Psalm 1:1).