You might not be familiar with this term, it is a social attitude within Australia. Tall Poppy Syndrome is envious, defamatory, or overly critical of someone else because of their assuming a higher economic, social or political position. It leads to two things, false humility and pompous preening.
For example one might expect an Australian in a high position to refer to himself as a ‘nobody’ to avoid seeming arrogant. Alternatively when referring to someone who is powerful an Australian might say ‘I’m just as good as him!’. The goal is a social leveling, the result is stifled leadership, creativity and innovation.
Tall Poppy Syndrome wasn’t invented by Australians, although we seem to have perfected the art. The term originates in Aristotle’s Politics (Book 5, Chapter 10) and Livy’s History of Rome, Book I. Aristotle writes: “Periander advised Thrasybulus by cutting off the tops of the tallest ears of corn, meaning that he must always put out of the way the citizens who overtop the rest.” In Livy’s account, the Roman tyrant, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, received a messenger from his son Sextus asking what he should do next in Gabii, since he had become all-powerful there. Rather than answering the messenger, Tarquinius went into his garden, took a stick, and symbolically swept it across his garden, thus cutting off the heads of the tallest poppies that were growing there. The messenger, tired of waiting for an answer, returned to Gabii and told Sextus what happened, who realised that his father wished him to put to death all the most eminent people of Gabii, which he then did.
Again it is not uniquely Australian, the Japanese proverb, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is well known. Scandinavia refer to a similar idea as “Jante law”. It seems that the mediocre masses call for conformity to avoid disturbing the equilibrium. In prison culture Tall Poppy Culture is a dominant force, racial division and gang mentality means a constant battle for equality and power. Ultimately the prisoners are against the institution that constrains them.
Bare in mind Australia is founded on Penal culture, having recently finished Wild Colonial Boys it was a consistent theme of Australians set up in rebellion against the forces that govern the nation. In an effort for equality we gave rise to Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Just as a point of reference, it should not be a quality of a Jesus following Christian. Jesus speaks of having respect for Authority, Pastors, Eldership and those put over you in Authority. Paul speaks in terms of vessels for noble and ignoble purposes and is quick to praise and encourage many of the churches he writes to. The Old Testament we see respect for the priestly Levite tribe along with the Kings. Throughout the entirety of scripture there is an equality of people before Christ. There is also an acknowledgement that God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways, which is done to Gods glory.
Our lack of willingness to show gratitude, joy and celebration for the success of others done to the glory of God is sinful. We steal blessing, bring division, cause hostility and dismiss glory.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Aware that people have different motivations, the ultimate goal is Christ preached and glory to God. Paul’s response seems to be a celebration of Christ, not an assessment of motivation and drive. Our response as a Christian is to hold Christ on high, not tyrannical social leveling under the guise of an unchristian social construct.
Tall Poppy Syndrome might be an Australian cultural phenomena but it is not an acceptable Christian phenomena. If your first statement following a Christian celebration is to question motives and reduce the glory you are marked by something that is not a Christian quality.