This afternoon I had an interesting conversation going. I was contemplating the reason that power is so tempting. By power being tempting, I don’t actually mean the power that destroys, as in Hitler. I’m talking about the gentle turn in focus that can easily happen in ministry leadership.
This small turn causes our focus to shift so that we see all the energies of the group feeding to build something larger, stronger, more enticing. Instead, God wants us to find that He has people following us in order that we might pour time and energy into them so that they can make a difference in the lives they are already living. Instead of helping them become part of our mission, I think the whole focus is that we are becoming part of theirs.
Anyway, I was having this conversation, and being a mom simultaneously. Suddenly, one of my kids starts talking about history. She described to me that the world wars were because the old empires wanted to exercise power, and the younger nations wanted to garner influence (called politics). I’m sure that is a simplistic version, but considering that I started this whole conversation discussing the modern view – that being one of power (closely aligned with politics), and the post modern view, being one of influence and equipping.
So, it seems that we are drawn to power, even when we start out fighting it. Why is this?
From the time you were born, you had one root desire – to know and be known. Why are the preteen years so horrendous? Because preteens don’t know themselves, and they spend a good deal of time comparing and contrasting themselves with their peers. They want to know that they are important. They want to be significant.
We discover early on that the one everyone pays attention to has power. When someone has power, people follow. When people follow, we are never alone, and we get lots of kudos. It really seems to be all about us – not because we are out to rule the world, but because we live in a fallen world where we are looking for people to love and people to love us. We yearn for that special relationship with God that is the ultimate in knowing and being known, yet, in true hiding-in-the-garden fashion, we flinch to protect ourselves from being truly recognized. It is easier to show ourselves as the people we want to be – because that is someone people will like. In showing a false or less than honest self, we miss authenticity (and I’m not talking about admitting that you get angry on the freeway).
When we aren’t authentic, we really have nothing to give. In fact, when we give to others, there is a part of us that feels cheated, isolated, alone.
The only way out of this cycle is to let God in all the way. To risk relationship with Him – to take the influence and power He gives us and to deliberately sow it into the lives of others.