Greetings. I feel this month’s topic has not been talked much about in Christian circles but has shown its ugly head frequently in the past 10 years among Christians. How we handle power can destroy one’s character as it is connected to pride. How do we treat people under our responsibility? How do we treat people of the opposite sex, especially how men treat women, whether your spouse or women we work and minister to? This article is just scratching the surface of this topic. Am I, are you, blameless, above reproach with people or am I, are you even in minute ways, using power to our advantage? Thanks. Mike
Power’s Potential to Destroy
King David summoned the beautiful woman he was focused upon as he stood on the roof of the palace. Every ounce in his body was saying, “I want that woman.” He ignored the inner voice that was telling him that this was not the right thing to do. But another voice in his mind was telling himself that he was the King of Israel; anything and anyone was assessable to him. This was his kingdom.
The servant David had go fetch her was saying that woman was married to one of his bravest and noblest warriors, Urriah. Surely David would come to his senses and realize that he could not insult and destroy a relationship with Urriah over his wife Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-5). But he did! Edmund Burke once wrote, “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse”.
Then to cover up his sin with getting Bathsheba pregnant, David ultimately had Urriah killed. How could he? Here was a man after “God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
Power is dangerous and intoxicating. It is like holding dynamite in your hands. You have power over people to have them do what you want. Peter Koestenbaum recognized that the best use of power contains at least one element of altruism. “Leadership is the use of power. But power, to be ethical, must never be abused. To ensure that, one rule cannot be broken: Power is to be used only for the benefit of others, never for yourself. That is the essential generosity and self-sacrifice of the leader.”
That is hard to do. You get your ego stroked because people think highly of you. You have helped people and they are so appreciative of your service. They feel you are something very special and it feels good to be wanted and appreciated. We constantly need to be checking our motives for being in the leadership positions if for no other reason than to keep our power in check.
Leadership is influencing people. How or why we want to influence people is the question. Motive has to be determined. God has placed you in a position to serve people in His Kingdom. What a privilege and great responsibility.
David took advantage of his position as he sent his general, Joab to go fight wars during the spring of the year, rather than doing what kings normally do in the spring, all the while he remained in Jerusalem. If he had been out battling with his soldiers, he would not have gotten involved with Bathsheba.
When you or I are in place of authority over others, having power over people, we have to serve people. We have to place their needs right there with or ahead of our needs and keep that focus.
Charles Colson was one of the most powerful men in the world when he was part of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration and subsequently fell from that position, eventually becoming a Christian, said, “The lure of power can separate the most resolute of Christians from the true nature of Christian leadership, which is service to others. It is difficult to stand on a pedestal and wash the feet of those below.” Colson served as the head of the international organization, Prison Fellowship for many years.
Never say that you are immune to a power struggle in your heart. This power pride attitude is subtle, like a snake slithering looking to bite someone. If you are not accountable to other strong Christians of your gender, go find someone like that now. We are all susceptible to pride and that can quickly lead to power abuse.
If you desire to finish your life’s race someday as running the race for Jesus, go find an accountability person or persons who have the ability to speak truth and tell you to do the right thing that will honor and glorify God. If you don’t, do not be surprised that you will end up on the heap of sin’s causalities.
Youth Ministry – Ruth and Her Focus on God
Sometimes there are choice we make early in our lives that have lifelong consequences, whether they are positive or negative. Not all but a few. Our goal is to see positive spiritual growth experiences from those opportunistic choices.
In Jewish tradition, if an older son marries a young lady and he dies, then the next single brother in line was to marry the older son’s widow. This is the story we read in Ruth 1. Naomi told her two daughter-in-laws to go back to their homes because the girls’ husbands and died and Naomi had no more sons to offer the girls (Ruth 1:14-18). Orpah said goodbye, but Ruth indicated that no way would she leave Naomi. In fact, she made the statement, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”.
That meant for Ruth a couple of things. One is her mother-in-law Naomi had no more sons for Ruth (or Orpah) to marry, thus Ruth, a fairly young woman yet, would remain a widow the rest of her life. In that tradition the woman immensely depended upon her husband to provide a roof over her head and food to feed her. Ruth was facing for herself difficult days ahead with no husband to support her.
Second, Ruth was raised as a Moabite, not as a Hebrew who believed in God. Ruth intentionally took the Jewish religion as her own but remaining, as “your God will be my God”. This involved a faith decision. This decision defined Ruth’s life, what she was and certainly what she would become. Orpah on the other hand, decided to go back and we do not hear of her again. She went back to idolatry to worshipping Chemosh, the god of the Moabites.
Have you experienced a time where you had the choice of surrendering your will, your dreams and desires for life to Jesus (a defining moment in your life) and there were no guarantees that your life would go well? Ruth was putting her faith in the Almighty God, trusting and worshipping the true God. There was true repentance in her heart. Israel was now Ruth’s people and without knowing this fact, this put her in position to be in the line of David (lineage of the Jesus Christ).
Her decision to identify herself with the Israelites and God, was for time and eternity. This was not at all an easy decision. Ruth had no guarantees, but decided to trust God no matter the outcome. To be a growing Christian, you surrender what you want in life and place yourself under the direction and control of God (the Holy Spirit). You cannot serve both God and yourself in order to be an effective Christian.
As we grow in our spiritual lives and are given the opportunities to serve Jesus, we will face situations where we either tell God we are totally committed to Him, nothing holding you back from serving Him or we just cannot surrender everything to Him. It is at these moments that our journey, walk with Jesus will grow to new levels or that journey is stymied. If we say no to God, we lose those blessings we could have had.
The most important decision you will make is whether or not you will receive Jesus as your Savior, to trust, putting your belief in Him that only Jesus can save you from your sins and eternity apart from Jesus, ending up in hell. You know you have put your trust in Jesus when you see change in your life through your attitude toward God, others and yourself, when you read the Bible and obey what you read, and you pursue loving and serving people the way Jesus loved and served people.
Like Ruth, when the situation arises where you choose following Jesus or not surrendering to His leading, make the choice to serve and follow Jesus. At that moment and many moments after that, you will not know what will be in store for your life, but you know you made the right decision in being obedient to Jesus.