Perhaps one of the most overlooked and ignored sins of the modern era is that of mocking.
Psalm 1 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, and it speaks directly to his:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
To be a mocker is put in the same category as walking in step with the wicked or following the path of a sinner. It is also directly contrasted with delighting in the Law of the Lord and producing fruit.
And yet, if you spend about 10 seconds on social media you will probably find examples of people mocking others. It’s a real problem, and I do not believe we can ignore it any longer.
If we hope to be great leaders or teach the next generation to lead well, then we must address this behavior.
What is a mocker?
To “mock” someone means that you “tease or laugh at them in a scornful or contemptuous manner.”
Other translations of Psalms 1 use the word “scoffer” instead of “mocker,” and I think that is another helpful way to understand the word. Scoff almost has a contemptuous sound that comes with it, giving the word audible meaning.
Effectively, when you mock someone or scoff at them, you are communicating and demonstrating your (self-defined) superiority to that person. This comes from an overly high view of yourself, and an inferior view of the other.
Proverbs 21:24 demonstrates the character defining presence of pride and arrogance when we choose to mock others:
The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name— behaves with insolent fury.
You will undoubtedly meet people who frustrate you or disagree with you. You may think them fools, you may think them incompetent, and you may think they are the worst.
But remember, mocking and scoffing is, by definition, contrary to servant leadership.
Mocking is not a victimless crime either, and the Bible lists several problems caused by mockers.
The Problem with Mockers
Choosing to mock people creates several problems, not just for the mocker but also for the community. Proverbs has several warnings about this, and it’s pretty easy to see how this plays out in our world today.
Mocking leads to personal suffering: “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” (Proverbs 9:12)
Mocking leads to strife and quarreling: “Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.” (Proverbs 22:10)
Mockers are blind to their own faults: “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8)
Mockers struggle to learn anything of value: “The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.” (Proverbs 14:6)
Mockers show contempt for God: “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 17:5)
Mockers cause anger and are the opposite of wise: “Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger.” (Proverbs 29:8)
You don’t have to work hard to see the impact that rampant mocking has had on our culture. We’re becoming an increasingly polarized people, and I would argue that scoffing is one of the major causes.
When someone shares an experience or belief that is different than our own, our first reaction is often to mock them and criticize. We do not listen, and we do not see them as people created in the image of God. Divisions grow wider, and it becomes harder to work with others.
Christ demonstrated that you can disagree with someone and choose to treat them with love and honor, but we often find it all too easy to join in the company of mockers.
How to Stop Being a Mocker and Be a Better Leader
If you want to be a great servant leader, then you need to not be a mocker. The behavior is arrogant and divisive, and serves no one but the mocker.
There are several practical ways and ideas to prevent falling into the temptation of mockery:
Meditate on God’s Word: Follow the advice of Psalms 1. Instead of joining in with the mockers, become a person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” If you want to develop a better understanding and appreciation of the Bible, then make sure you check out our Story of the Bible course.
Honor your leaders: Here is a tough one in our political climate: 1 Peter 2:17 calls us to “honor the Emperor.” I can’t speak for the whole world, but it is very popular to mock political leaders who belong to the “other” party in my country. It doesn’t matter if you’re on social media, at the dinner table, or at a political gathering – you should not mock your leaders. Instead, choose to honor them and pray for them.
Pray for those who frustrate or hurt you: There are some truly frustrating people in the world, and it can be so easy to mock them. Some people are even evil and seek to harm you, but Romans 12:14 calls us to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” If you are tempted to mock someone, then try blessing them with prayer. This will help you to see them as an image bearer of God and love them, despite their flaws.
Weep with those who weep: Instead of rejoicing or gloating at the failure of your enemies, consider the words of Romans 12:15-16, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Follow Christ’s example of servant leadership: Jesus turned popular leadership style upside down when he said these words in Matthew 20, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” If you embrace your calling to be a servant and imitator of Christ, then mocking others will simply have to fade away.
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of joining with mockers. While mocking makes us feel intelligent, it actually robs us of wisdom. Although mocking may gain us some followers, it actually sows much division. Where mocking may please other mockers, it shows contempt to God.
Ultimately, mocking is a sinful behavior that is contrary to servant leadership. The world may enjoy it and even celebrate it, but as a believer you are called to live and act differently.
So don’t be a mocker – we have plenty of those. Instead, choose to be a servant leader for God’s glory.
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