the misuse of power

May 5, 2014

pow·er

 noun, often attributive \ˈpa(-ə)r\

: the ability or right to control people or things

: political control of a country or area

: a person or organization that has a lot of control and influence over other people or organizations

– from Merriam-Webster online

Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone abusing or misusing their power? Not fun, right?

Have you ever misused your power? I have in the past and looking back on those times is painful as I caused others pain. Too often, the lust for power over others is something most of us deal with or have had to deal with in our lives. For some reason, we are drawn to the desire to control the lives of others. You see it from the bossy kid on the playground, the domineering college professor, the petty tyrant running a church committee, a department head who enjoys being “the boss”, and all the way to dictators or tyrants who abuse entire countries or even regions of the world. Why do we do that? Why do we do it to our family, friends, and coworkers? Most often it is a “heart” issue as discussed here by R. C. Sproul and most often rooted in deep seated pride.

Additionally, it is often fueled by organizational dynamics in our churches, businesses, institutions, and government. There is a competition for place and position that seems to feed this deep-seated issue. I was sharing with a couple of my friends over the weekend how disheartening this issue is and how it taints even the best of organizations. It can have a wearying effect on people.

Personally, I am now at the point of my life that place and position are not important – I just want to do something worthwhile that pleases and glorifies the Lord and helps others be a little bit better. Even so, at times I can see glimmers of it in my own life as I deal with the “natural man” and that reminds me just how far I have to go in learning to serve and to walk in humility.

If you do have power over others, use it wisely and for the benefit of others. Once you use it to satisfy your own desires, you are headed down the wrong path and people will be hurt – including you.

Think on the following passage of Scripture. Yes, it is aimed at the elders, but it applies, in my opinion, to anyone who has authority over anyone else.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 English Standard Version

And here is one more passage of Scripture to consider:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4 English Standard Version

You have a stewardship responsibility for those you lead – you are a shepherd, not a tyrant. Lead well. Be a shepherd.

Have a blessed week!

BG