The word diva comes from the feminine form of the Latin term divus, which meant “god.” In English, diva came to refer to any popular female singer but has since come to mean “a vain, temperamental, and demanding person who has difficulty working well with others.” For example, someone may describe Sue’s petulant attitude this way: “We all agreed to share expenses, but Sue is being a diva about it.” In our self-absorbed culture, diva attitudes are almost encouraged. We’re bombarded with advertisements that tell us to “Be all you can be.” We’re told that we “deserve the best” and that “nothing is too good” for us. Following such advice, men and women can become self-focused, entitled, and difficult to work with. Unfortunately, even Christians can adopt this attitude. Being a diva is entirely at odds with the teachings of Christ.
The diva attitude can show up when a person doesn’t get his or her way, believes she deserves more than she is receiving, or disagrees with a direction the leadership is going. Differences of opinion are necessary in healthy relationships, and the way we handle those differences can be either beneficial or counterproductive. Behaving like a diva is never honoring to God.
Divas are often at the root of conflict, gossip, and even church splits. Divas create chaos in the body of Christ. Consider these examples: Ann is angry because the committee did not choose her favorite carpet color, so she stops attending services, taking others with her. Betty is so upset that she was not asked to be the leader of women’s ministry that she starts attending another church where they appreciate her talents. Carol cannot believe an usher asked her to give up her seat to an elderly guest, so she stormed out, muttering under her breath. One thing all divas have in common is an elevated opinion of themselves.
Divas are not a product of the 21st century. The early church had to put up with divas such as Diotrephes, whom John described as one “who loves to be first” (3 John 1:9). Paul warned against being a diva in Romans 12:3: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” To have sober judgment, we must be willing to see ourselves the way God does. We don’t compare ourselves with those around us but with the perfection of Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:12). It’s hard to feel lofty we “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself” (Hebrews 12:3, ESV). It is His character that Christians are told to emulate. When we start to act like a diva, we should remember Christ’s humble servitude. Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
How does a diva attitude compare with a servant attitude?
• Divas are self-focused; servants are others-focused (Philippians 2:4).
• Divas are self-important; servants seek to magnify the importance of Christ (John 3:30).
• Divas demand their rights; servants relinquish their rights to the safekeeping of the Lord (Galatians 2:20).
• Divas treat their opinions like godly convictions; servants recognize the difference between personal opinion and spiritual conviction (1 Corinthians 2:2).
• Divas justify their own sin while criticizing others; servants grieve over all sin and live in a state of ongoing repentance (Psalm 45:7).
Second Corinthians 10:18 says, “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” Shedding a diva attitude requires that we demolish our “rights” to be respected and admired and replace them with a desire to please the Lord. We must ask the Lord to show us our own sin the way He sees it. We can also make the choice to crucify our pride by volunteering for things that will gain us nothing. Someone overcoming a diva attitude may offer to clean the church restrooms, paint the nursery, or vacuum after a youth party, and it’s even more profitable when the volunteering is done in a way that no one else knows about it.
Avoiding being a diva is related to what the Bible calls dying to the flesh (see Romans 6:8–14; Luke 9:23). But, because killing our fleshly desires is painful, many Christians merely teach their flesh some manners. They assume they are living godly lives because they’re not involved in certain obvious sins—until the diva attitude starts showing. Their service is overlooked, the worship band stops playing their favorite songs, the committee doesn’t go with their ideas, and the old petulant, fractious peevishness rears its ugly head. The diva has returned.
Avoiding becoming a diva begins with recognizing our potential to be one. Pride is the foundation for a diva attitude, so the second step is confessing our pride to the Lord and asking His help in overcoming it. A third and difficult step is to consider ourselves crucified with Christ and seek humbling ways to serve others. Volunteer for an unpopular task that will receive no attention. Divas often mask their pride by choosing public acts of service and then flooding social media with virtue signaling and selfies.
Peter gives some great advice on how to avoid being a diva: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5; cf. Proverbs 3:34).