Power with Purpose

What comes to mind for you when I say the word ‘POWER?’

Our Presiding Bishop is spending a lot of time talking about the ‘Power of Love’ (I encourage you to buy his new book by that name). This last weekend one of the presenters at the AwakeningSoul gathering presented on the topic, “Justice is the Body of Love—Love is the Soul of Justice” (I would also encourage you attend this gathering next year), and suggested that Power is the opposite of Love. Another offered that those who are beginning to realize some power would do well not to simply replicate the historic model of power.

Many of us who have had significant privilege can be completely unaware of the power differential that accompanies that privilege. And in my experience, those who have very little privilege are very aware of their lack of power. I once heard a colleague, The Rev. Canon Ed Rodman, articulate it this way: “When we drive the car, we think like drivers. When we are pedestrians, we think like pedestrians. When we splash a puddle of water on a person walking as we drive, we don’t think about it. That’s because we’re in the power position.”

So when we are in the power position, how do we drive the car? Are we aware of those around us? Are we aware of how our power is impacting others? Do we take advantage of our power position to benefit ourselves or others?

How we answer these questions, I believe, makes it pretty clear whether we are utilizing the power of love or the power of self-orientation.

Paul wrote the following words to the faith community in Ephesus: “Now to God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

There are two take-aways for me in these words: first, real power comes from God and second, that power is for the doing of God’s work. It is as I once heard attributed to theologian Henry Nouwen, “You will find yourself doing things you never even dreamed you had the ability or powers to do. It is because God is taking you where God wants you to go, doing what God wants you to do. You will be astonished at what God will do through you.”

The power we posses, whether by personhood, privilege, or position is not meant for our own gain but is rather an opportunity to bring forth God’s love to the world. It is as those wonderful words from Dan Damon’s hymn beckon us, “Strong, gentle children, God made you beautiful, gave you the wisdom and power you need; speak in the stillness all you are longing for; live out your calling to love and to lead.”

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