7 items tagged "power"
Results 1 - 7 of 7
Ronald Reagan once said, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” Likewise, the power of influence is virtually inexhaustible for as long as it remains silent. In the Book of Esther, three people at one time or another find favor in Xerxes’ eyes and influence his decision. At the end of the story, one is beloved, one is promoted and one is executed. The one executed was he who squandered his influence on self-promotion.
When, after a long recess in missions, I came back to pastor again in America, I was asked not infrequently if I was ever afraid in Africa. My answer was always, “Not so desperately or so often as I am now.” If you want to be really afraid, pastor an American megachurch. In Africa, all the witches wear feathers. It is in church where you can’t tell the players without a program.
In a seminary in Peru I saw a terrifying poster. A nun in a traditional habit wore a bandoleer of bullets from which dangled several hand grenades. In a holster on her hip was a massive .44 Magnum. With one arm she cradled an Uzi and in the other gripped a 9mm automatic. Underneath, in Spanish, the words said, “A new theology for a new world.”
It is not a new theology, of course. The words are couched in terms of the popular Latin heresy of Marxist liberation theology, but the lie is as old as Adam. If God will not give us power, we will seize it. If He will not redeem institutions with His power, we will do it with ours.
There is no difference between a Marxist guerrilla with a Molotov cocktail in her hand and a church rebel with a phone in hers. Refusing to wait on God and denying His sovereignty - both act to rally the troops, foment rebellion, oust authority, and seize control. A nun with a hand grenade and a church member rounding up votes and spreading gossip to remove the pastor are Siamese twins sharing a twisted soul. Both use religious terminology to cover their grab for control. Both believe themselves to be right. Both are demoniacally dangerous. Both are witches, and neither of them knows it. Hallelujahs and hand grenades are a witch brew.
After the Resurrection, Jesus promised his followers power. He also promised them peace. In the temporal domain, in the realm ruled by time, the followers of Jesus have had precious little of peace or power. The reason, of course, is that Jesus was speaking of an entirely different kind of peace and power.
I once visited a pastor who had sawed the legs off the visitor’s chair in his study. He said that intimidated those who sat there, made them feel small, peering over the edge of the desk like insignificant children. This same man told me that when he met a business leader for lunch, he was always a bit late. His reasoning was that the less important person always waits of the greater. What folly! What prideful, manipulative, silly games! Is it any wonder that later some of those businessmen over which he had towered and whom he had made to wait voted him out in a major church revolt?
Perhaps, even probably, you have never connected meekness and success. In fact, you only really need meekness when you are successful and powerful. Meekness is the virtue of the victor, not the defeated. Misunderstood by many, meekness is often thought to be only for weaklings. Nothing could be further from the truth. Meekness is the supreme virtue of leadership without which power becomes oppression. Meekness is power under control. Christianity itself is a contradiction that turns topside down the world’s understanding of what it means to be successful.
Now in all virtues there is what might be called the conviction of virtue. That is what we believe to be true about it. Then there is its theater of operation. That is, some circumstance is necessary to put the virtue in action. Fear, for example, must be present or courage cannot be called into action. In the same way, the rise to power calls for the virtue of meekness.
The power of servant leadership lies not in position but in motive. The CEO of a massive corporation, holding great responsibility, may “wash his employees’ feet” by seeking their benefit in business. There is no conflict between a well-managed business making a profit for its stockholders and one making a good life for its employees. There is no room for exploitation in Jesus’ model of servant leadership.
The servant leader is still in authority even as Jesus was when He washed the disciples’ feet. No one in the room doubted
by Dr. Mark Rutland
Its young men gone to death or in prisoner of war camps far in the North, its heartland in ashes and its agriculture and industry destroyed, the South, in 1865, was shattered. Postwar poverty and a deep sense of shame and defeat gripped the states of the former confederacy with economic and psycho-social depression.