Why did Justin Bieber get arrested?

According to the Miami Police, Justin Bieber got arrested last night for a DUI, drag racing and peacefully resisting arrest.

Regardless of what you feel about his music, it’s never a happy thing when someone stumbles like this.

The truly sad thing is that this kind of situation is more common than you think. I’ve seen lots of leaders wrestle with what is crushing Bieber. What is the cause of most of his problems?

Overwhelming success.

In fact, I’ve seen success ruin more leaders than failure.

Why? Because we prepare for failure and are surprised by success. We are not ready for it. We think it will be wonderful, not a challenge. And then we get it and lose everything in the midst of winning everything. What are the the signs you’re headed to this dire destination as a leader?

Here are four:

1. Your success outpaces your maturity.
This can take the form of money, attention or a million other things. This is why NFL players like Vince Young will go broke after receiving tens of millions of dollars. When they get that first multi-million dollar check at 22 years old, their income has outpaced their maturity. You don’t have to be a millionaire either. A 35 year old who has never known true success can get outpaced with responsibility at work just as easily.

2. You become an idea, not an individual.
Once you succeed a little, you want to repeat that success. You start to play to other people’s expectations. Instead of saying what you want to say, you say what other people what you to say. You become a caricature of yourself.

3. You surround yourself with yes men.
From pastors to popstars, this is the kiss of death. If people can’t tell you the word no or if telling you no is associated with questioning your integrity as a leader, you are doomed.

4. You refuse to admit you’re wrong.
Leaders who can’t say, “I was wrong,” are not leaders. They are success puppets, wobbling about on a stage of their own creation, believing their own press and leading the people who follow them into eventual failure.

I would say that the first two are the ones I’ve personally struggled with the most. I haven’t had much success, but it’s all relative and you’d be surprised how little it takes you to get drunk on it. My wife @JennyAcuff is too awesome to let me deal too much with the last two. But I can’t imagine being a 19 year old millionaire like Bieber. I had about $10 to my name when I was that age and found a way to be an idiot.

And I’m not the only one who understands the weight of success. Steve Jobs once described starting over this way, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” What a great phrase, “the heaviness of being successful.” That speaks to the expectation of success and being a beginner is all about being wrong. If even Steve Jobs struggled with success, chances are a lot of us will too.

I hope you are successful. I have known many leaders who did great things with their success. Bob Goff and David Weekley are friends of mine who’s success has only amplified their character and multiplied their generosity. Success can be a wonderful thing. But don’t be caught off guard by it. Plan how you’ll handle success as aggressively as you plan how you’ll handle failure.

It’s just as dangerous.

Have you ever seen a leader struggle with success?

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. I think you’re right about “becoming an idea, not an individual” and that it can be expanded on!
    I think the issue with this development is that that IS our idea of success — and it’s more destructive than people realize. When we start to see people as objects, harm/violence is almost certain. This is a problem we see probably the most prominently (without even realizing it) when women are turned into “things” — otherwise known as being objectified. It’s so much easier/permissible for someone to become used, hurt, raped or killed when they’re no longer a person.

  2. Ronnie Barnes

    Coincidentally, I am reading Jim Bakker’s book right now, which is entitled “I was wrong.” What a great and godly man he was and is. If you don’t know who Jim Bakker is, then be born a few years earlier, and you will.

  3. Getting arrested is part of their curriculum vitae this days!

  4. Awesome post. I have seen some successful people stumble. Another interesting thing about success is that it brings out the haters. Those that stay successful keep marching forward, leaving negativity and haters in their dust. Those that look back seem to get caught into the negativity into a downward spiral. It’s more comfortable to be average. No one takes shots at you for being average.

  5. Tim

    What has happened to celebrities being positive role models to the next generation? Seems that sports players and singer/actors have forgotten that others look up to them. Very disappointing and sad to see them fall.

  6. Linda

    Great post – very thought provoking. We might also take up, not just talking, but PRAYING for these individuals – that the Holy Spirit will touch their hearts and bring people into their lives that are positive influences. To surround them with our prayers will have an eternal effect. Our God does answer prayer!

  7. i hate justin

    what the f**k he would do drugs

  8. Allison Webster

    Poor Justin gets roasted in the “Oh! Justin Bieber” (song) on YouTube:


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