So the truth of the matter is that when one is in leadership, there is a certain amount of power that goes with the position. After all, one must speak with authority…and people listen.
However, as pastors, our goal isn’t to exude power, but to garner influence…for the sake of others, not for the sake of power.
Our problem with power is compounded by our society, which equates influence with power. Richard Foster called it out many years ago – our primary temptations are money, sex and power. Money…well, nobody has money these days, but being in the ministry, we are a lot less likely to find the pursuit of money being our primary mission. Victory here starts with a healthy understanding of who your Provider is. Sex…almost everywhere you go in Christiandom, you will find people who will help you with sex addictions. If you haven’t found any place, XXXchurch comes highly recommended.
But how do you know if you have fallen down the rabbit hole into the world of power?
Here are a few thoughts off the top of my head:
- If the most important voice in your church is you.
- If your church’s attendance drops dramatically when you are not there. (Some might consider this influence, but I would argue that people who are influencers make sure that theirs isn’t the only voice the church wants to hear.)
- If you don’t have people you trust who will push back and tell you when you are off base, sounding odd, or have flown to Pluto.
- If you don’t have any friends who don’t know Jesus. Why? Because people who are concerned about power are focused inward. People who are concerned with influence for the Kingdom want to know people who don’t know Jesus in order to make a real difference and in order to really understand the people in their congregations.
Is this power/influence struggle just for pastors? Of course not, but “as the head, so goes the rest”. If your focus is on power, then your congregation will spend an exorbitant amount of energy figuring out ways to garner power. If your focus is on influence, you will infuse others, who will in turn focus their energies on being a person of influence in a world that is focused on power and success.