Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots! (Part 3)

Read Part 1 (Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots – Part 1)

Read Part 2 (Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots – Part 2)


In the initial article, I admitted that the title was as not PC as it was lacking with Christian spirit. I kept it because the problem with armchair quarterbacking (AQing) is that most armchair quarterbacks (AQs) act like idiots. That is the essence of the definition.

We’ve already discussed the data and the strategic blind spots. Deficits that handily cause the AQ to play the fool. In this third and most important article, I present the deficit that’s most pertinent to and critical for the Christ-follower to avoid. The character deficit. Or to use an outdated but aptly descriptive term, the “virtue” deficit. “Virtue” is behavior that displays a high or godly (moral) standard. It’s conduct that is full of goodness (righteousness), dignity, merit. Character that is upright, upstanding, or generally viewed as good, honorable, and morally excellent.

You could compare virtue with Christlikeness. Something AQing is most often not!

First Article (Include link again)

  1. Data Deficiency – Facts matter.

 Second/Last Article: (Include link again)

  1. Strategic Deficiency – Perspective matters.

 This Article

  1. Character Deficiency – Character matters.


Proverbs 18:2 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. (NLT)

Interested? If so, keep reading below.


By Kerry Krissel


DIG DEEPER: (Read the “SUMMARY” paragraph above first)

If a shortage of data (include link) and strategic (include link) understanding isn’t enough to deter us from the worst sort of AQing, the sort that’s ill-informed, obnoxious, and contentious, here’s something that should be.

  1. Character Deficiency

The third blind spot AQs face is caused by a glaring lack of kindness. They struggle to see just how awful they’re being to others. Justifications abound. Character development will curb our tendency to fall into the other two faults. I’ve already called AQs out for their anger and arrogance, but they also tend to lack traits like grace, mercy, patience, self-control, and other basic Christian virtues. Where a perceived bad decision on another’s part could be an opportunity to practice one of these fruits of the Spirit, the AQ takes the opportunity to prove they have nary an ounce of these time-honored qualities!

Character development will curb our tendency to fall into the other deficiencies.

The AQ is often incensed. Like they’ve been personally offended by a decision that only affects them through very distant extension. Their team, which isn’t their team any more than it is their call to make, was done a disservice (so they believe) and they react like it was a calculated choice to hurt their feelings! As a southern friend of mine says, they have “a fifty-cent reaction to a five-cent problem.” Says something about AQs internal state, doesn’t it? And isn’t that exactly my point? Where growth could be birthed only more godlessness lives.

What Happened?
What happened to kindness and mercy and grace and basis decency of character? What happened to Christian virtue? Why such cruelty, unkindness, condescension, and slander? There’s also the little issue of submission to and the support of the decisions of those over us and of those in positions of honor and responsibility. This is a good part of my issue with AQs. They seldom ask themselves these questions, either upon reflecting on the tirade that just spewed from their mouth or any other time when they should call themselves and their own choice into question. Things they are responsible for, unlike the outcome of that game. AQ your own AQing!

Am I making a big deal out of nothing? If you feel that way, have you leveled yet another criticism without thinking it through? Are you AQing this article rather than choosing to be teachable from an open, receptive, and humble heart? Here’s your chance to prove you can receive as well as you give.

Whoa! I just stepped on some slippered toes that think they wear a ref’s cleats. Take a better look. It shouldn’t be too hard to see what you’re wearing with your feet jetting into the air on the end of your footrest. To be fair, maybe you never applied the uglier characteristics of an AQ to some of these other areas of your life. In that event, let me help you make the necessary application by including some verses from the Bible that put a more universal slant on the sports lingo I’ve been employing.

Resisting AQing is a strategy for being delivered from foolishness!

You may not have seen this coming but yes, the Bible speaks quite directly to AQs like the ones I’m describing. In several of these passages, I have first the New Living Translation and then the verse again from The Amplified Bible, to give more texture to is being taught.

Proverbs 3:7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (NLT)

Dang! Evil? Being impressed with my own wisdom and opinion is evil? It’s apparently the opposite of fearing the Lord? But that ain’t all I got loaded in the chamber today!

Proverbs 18:2 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. (NLT)
“A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself.” (AMP)

Double dang! Isn’t that exactly what I’ve been saying (harping on!) throughout? AQs tend to speak without taking much time at all to understand first. Let alone delighting in gathering facts and understanding before they opinionate. They just want to be heard. And note, an AQ reveals something about themselves when they spout off. They’re trying to make others see how smart they are but what are they really showing? Keep reading, I have a few more rounds not yet spent!

Proverbs 26:12 There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise. (NLT)
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes and conceit? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him.” (AMP)

Um, can you say, “triple dang!?” Olé King Solomon is on a roll! He makes the AQ out to be more foolish than a fool! Hopeless even!

Proverbs 28:26 Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe. (NLT)
“He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly wisdom shall be delivered.” (AMP)

I stretched things a bit with the triple, am I allowed a quadruple dang?! Resisting AQing is a strategy for being delivered from foolishness!

Proverbs 29:20 There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking. (NLT)
“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him.” (AMP)

Enough already with the slang for emphasis and attention-getting. The very definition of an AQ is one who’s “hasty in his (or her) words! And there are a plethora of verses just in Proverbs that tell us how foolish it is to speak too quickly and about the wisdom of self-control and silence (10:19, 11:12, 13:3, 15:28, 17:27-28, 18:21, 21:23; also Romans 12:16).

Maybe just two more to add weight to the discussion?

Proverbs 17:27–28 27 A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. (NLT)

Hum. That says silence is more apt to make us appear intelligent than opening our mouth and removing all doubt! Now there’s a different strategy for impressing others! If that’s what motivates your AQing you want to adopt a new strategy. Stop AQing!

Silence is more apt to make us appear intelligent than opening our mouth and removing all doubt!

Jesus basically says the same thing that those verses do in a context where he also mentions how wrong murder is (Matthew 5:21-22 interesting connection)! In Matthew 5, Jesus uses two words to describe someone who gets incensed and shoots off at the mouth over another’s decision that they dislike. The first term means to attribute worthlessness, a total lack of understanding, to speak contemptuously, disrespectfully, disapprovingly, scornfully, condescendingly, and insultingly. A synonym for that word is “numbskull.” The second term is the word we get “moron” from. Sound anything like what you’ve heard from AQs you have had to endure, or from your own outbursts? Anything like the label they hurl with passion and disgust at the one they disagree with? Jesus tells us that those labels are better placed on the one throwing them at others. He says that using those labels in anger is dangerous, both legally and eternally!

That’s a short thematic Bible study mostly from a single book of the Bible. It elongated the blog, but I think having the verses to read is helpful.

Full Disclosure
My family has little or no memory of me yelling like a madman at a ref or coach. I like watching sports, or sleeping through them depending on who you ask, but I seldom really care who wins. It’s just a game. However… Change the venue to a chick flick or other drama, even a sci-fi or adventure flick, anything really where real-life scenarios or relationships play out, and the story changes dramatically! My occupation as a Christian/pastoral counselor has something to do with that. Those themes touch on things I really care about, and so I may be too willing to use them as an excuse for my own AQing.

Take poor communication or verbal manipulation and emotional abuse, even when it ever so faintly shows up, and they’ll say something quite different. Disney animated movies are full of teaching moments if you’re me and my poor family! And don’t talk to me about commercials. My wife too frequently must put up with my raised voice asking the screen not to insult my intelligence. This is pretty stupid (idiotic?) given the fact that the screen isn’t responsible, capable of responding, or of changing the advertiser’s marketing strategy.

Another thing we probably should not discuss, if I’m trying to salvage any reputation as a wise and self-controlled non-idiot, is the dingbat in that car that just cut me off! Why does having that steering wheel in my hands so often make me feel unjustly “dissed?!” Oops, I discussed it anyway. Looks like I’m a dingbat too!

Story Matters
Truth be told, I’m much better than I used to be. How about you? It took some counseling, given my childhood, to get to a more peaceful place. Injustice, abuse, rejection, and feeling invisible and extraneous was my daily experience. I felt I wouldn’t be missed. I wondered if people would prefer that I didn’t take up space and already strained resources. I had to make myself be seen if I wanted attention.

I’m not wired to sit idly by, so I took matters into my own hands, making everything worse. Those painful feelings drove me to act out to move from people’s periphery and into their conscious attention. The more it didn’t work, the harder I pushed, the louder I got, the more extreme my efforts became, and the more (self-provoked but still unjustified) pain I endured.

Unfortunately, whatever our story, it doesn’t cancel the almost inherent evil behind AQing.

If the three responses to threat and fear are flight, fight, or freeze, I fought. That became a way of life. I fought with everyone and everything, logical or intelligent or not. Most who run away from home don’t before they’re even in middle school, but I did! I don’t know your story but if you’re anything like me, there may be a reason for your know-it-all outbursts. I was trying to be seen. Unfortunately, whatever our story, it doesn’t cancel the almost inherent evil behind AQing.


Have you ever said?

  • My boss is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • The coach is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • The ref is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • The president is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • That driver is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • That judge is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • My spouse is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • That random person is an idiot/moron/numbskull.
  • Everyone I disagree with is an idiot, and here is why I think so…

“Was it deserved?” is the first question. Sometimes it may be. Far less often than we are going to be inclined to believe it is! But the second set of self-imposed inquires is more to the point, “Was my response godly/Christ-like?” Or even, “Did I ask even a single question before leveling my verdict?” “Did I try to understand before demanding that I be understood?” “Did I let some time pass to calm my emotions and to let all the facts emerge?”

Do people (we judge) make bad decisions? Sure. But is attack the right response? Might you be completely right in your assessment? Sure. Does that justify cruelty? There are real problems with opinion-making and even bigger ones with opinion spewing. We, especially in America, are opinionated people! We wax eloquent about things with which we have only read about or otherwise observed from a distance. Or we know quite a bit about the subject. But we degrade our otherwise helpful assessment, if not spoil it entirely, with our delivery and/or the audience we choose to air our tirade in front of. Slander is the result.

You do know that you can be slanderous with the truth? Maybe gossip is a better term but blabbing an unflattering truth around may also taint or destroy someone’s reputation unnecessarily, whether intentional or not. Defamation of character may result as the direct consequence of our opinion-making, even if we are technically right in our assessment. A few fewer AQs in the world just might calm some of the tensions threatening to blow sky high around us.

Are you willing to tackle some direct questions?

  • What sort of person do you want to be?
  • Do you intend to contribute to all the contention, division, and inhumanity around us?
  • What sort of Christian—God’s representative—do you want to be?
  • Have you ever stopped to consider how you sound?
  • Or how often you unkindly throw others under the bus?
  • Or what do your judgmental attitude and words do to the reputation of others?
  • Or if you hide unkindness behind truth?
  • Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if you care about any of these things?
  • Have you ever bothered to ask yourself what drives your cruelty and self-promotion?
  • If you were more kind, considerate, patient, and understanding, would others not recognize you?
  • Would loved ones look at you strangely wondering who this kind person is standing before them?!

I obviously don’t know if AQing is a mild character problem or if competition and vitriol and censure are so much a part of you that to stop would be to do away with a large part of who you currently are. You may need a mild character tweak or a more radical solution… like a transplant. I don’t know your story, or what horrors you have endured that have driven you to mild or extreme levels of cruel put-downs and defensive self-elevation. But if you can’t curb your know-it-all criticism, try getting some help to figure things out. Whether you consider yourself a Christ-follower or not, do you care if what you contribute to the world’s conversation is life-giving or life-taking? And if you do, what is one thing you can do today to make the change?


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