Thursday, November 4, 2010


If God is God and He is running the universe. He has first claim on my life. There is no room for wrestling power away from God or taking on power ourselves. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous recognized that the most important hurdle for the addicted person is to admit that they are not God.* Yet, so often, I make me the centre of the universe. I think my projects, my life, my comfort are the most important. I want people to follow my leadership and I am not against the use of power to get them to follow. Henri Nouwen said,

One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave in to the temptation of power—political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power—even though they continued to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to power but emptied himself and became as we are. The temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the Gospel is the greatest of all. . . . What makes this temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life (In the Name of Jesus, p. 58-59).

The temptation to power can be as small as wanting my own way and my own comfort while I ignoring the needs of others. The temptation to power can be about building my career, my ministry, my kingdom. The temptation to power can be as big as politics, economics, and military might.
I need to get some things right in my mind. I want to bow the knee to the One who is truly running the universe and live my life the way He planned. I will let me be me; I will let God be God.

*Some of these words are influenced by my reading of Willard, Dallas. Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002, p. 52.


Zoe said...

Is it possible to ever get away from the issue of power? If we pay close attention to any interpersonal interaction, there is always a power dynamic- it's fluid and can change several times throughout the interaction, but it's always there.
So then, is the way to deal with this not to ignore or downplay the presence of power, rather to acknowledge it and to be conscious to not use it for personal gain? I guess I'm wondering if the way to look at it is that power and love are found mixed together in our human interactions, unavoidably so, and we just have to be intentional in how we respond in the midst of it...

Keith Shields said...

Zoe, thanks for a thought-provoking question and helpful musings.