Monday Morning Pastor – Power Problems

January 16, 2018
Note: Each week we will have a guest writer who will share a few of their personal thoughts on Sunday’s sermon. Unlike Monday Morning Quarterbacking, from which this series gets its name, we aren’t looking to critique so much as share how we have been personally impacted. This week’s post comes from Rob Devereaux.

Power Problems

Sunday’s sermon on using the power God has given us for His purposes fits right in with the headlines of the day – about the privilege of the powerful, the abuse of power against women and the arrogance of powerful politicians. These themes will continue to be headlines. They are both about the responsible and moral use of power.

We take so much for granted and have such automatic expectations of “how things should be” and we assume that what we have experienced “is what it is.”  And our existing beliefs about power are rarely challenged without being saddled with a lot of personal reaction and emotion – so our ideas about power get a little “muddy”.  Like . . .

  • what kinds of power do we really have anyway? . . . and, after we’ve figured that out,
  • when do we use all the power we have and when do we throttle back? . . . and then there is
  • responsible and moral by what standard? . . . and
  • to what extent are we responsible for our use of our power . . . and
  • who are we responsible to in the appropriate use of that power? . . . which begs the question
  • how did we get these powers to begin with?

So, let’s dive into the mud and see if we can form a few bricks we can use to build the boundaries of the power we individually have.

Let’s start by saying we can and should (many would say must) take on a special perspective on these questions as followers of Christ, having the Holy Spirit with us and being children of God.  As “King’s Kids” we have a special responsibility to represent God to others. How we appear to others is often how Jesus and God appears to others.  We either bring glory to the Trinity – or we don’t. How we use power should reflect how God uses power – not how mankind misuses it.

Let’s also begin by understanding that we find ourselves at certain points of life, through no fault or honor of our own, with certain natural physical, spiritual, mental and social talents. We are not speaking of skills or issues of “character” that we’ve crafted – but “natural gifts” that we have no particular reason to be proud or ashamed of, for they are given to us. We may try to embellish and take credit for them, but we all know where they came from.  We don’t know why they were given to us; that is only known by God. All we know is we are here for His purposes and we are blessed for all eternity because we’ve been chosen to be adopted into His family and have eternal life. Regardless of how we perceive our power now, from God’s perspective, we are truly blessed after all.

All that being said, while these powers overlap a bit, we can say that we all have a degree of:                              Position Power (parent, manager, leader, first-born, etc.); Personal Power (physical size & voice, ability and passion) and Expert Power (the I.T. specialist, plumber, the doctor, teacher, the file clerk who knows where everything is, the nuclear rocket surgeon).

Position power is mostly about relationship, obedience and the ability to cause pleasure or pain. It’s the most immediate but the most fleeting power because once it’s used, it begins being resisted and used up. ”Because I said so” is only accepted for a while. Position power depends greatly on its longevity or permanence and on the strength of the reinforcing troops that back-up the authority (the traffic cop is backed-up by the police force and the entire justice system).

Expert power is about knowledge put into action – not exactly about age. Think of the power the kids command when they’re the ones who know how to make the thing stop blinking 12:00.

Personal power is being the “alpha dog”. It’s about our being and doing what most people respect and admire: decisiveness, energy, emotion, understanding, self-image, expectations, positivity, empathy, and more. It’s also the most effective, long-term power.

Take a minute to ponder the Position power of Jesus . . . & His Expert power . . . & Personal power . . .  And think of the power of prayer from Jesus’ Position, His Expertness & Person.  What do you believe, deep down at the heart level, about the power of your prayer?

Speaking of things Jesus taught, consider the power of “loving kindness” & the “Golden Rule”.

What power do we experience when we treat another with “unconditional love”?

What does Paul say (Eph 4:21) about the right use of family power when he teaches us to “be subject to one another”?

So what about the obvious topic of power and corruption. We’ve all heard the expression “power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It is true too often and in too many areas of life.

How did Jesus model for us in how to deal with the arrogance and pride of power so it doesn’t corrupt us?  Jesus always starts with a humble attitude and the power of His miracles are always preceded by thankfulness. Humility and thankfulness is light that does away with darkness. If we, and our leaders can be humble and thankful, we will find people will trust our power and follow.

God told us how to handle power. Use restraint. “The meek will inherit the earth.” (Remember, meek is not weak. It means restrained, even unused, power.) And He told us to use our power just as He loves us – to help His other children – with unconditional love.

As God said in Micah 6:8, He only requires three things of us.  That is how people will “know us” and we can make “disciples of the nations”. That is our good and noble purpose.  Let us handle the power we find ourselves with, with humility and thankfulness so we can represent God faithfully and His glory shows.