The Illusion of Power

I just heard of a cleric making yet another change in policy, tactics and direction which will consolidate power. There is no mistaking who is in charge and who is making the decisions.  There is no question about who is in charge. He is!  The problem is that as these changes occur he alienates people, he distances people, and even former supporters are now questioning what is going on

The end result is that in consolidating power he is losing authority; he is losing the respect of others, and he is losing an ability to influence beyond the bounds of raw power.

Jesus, it seems to me had very little power to wield. But he had enormous influence and an ultimate authority. His teachings seem to me to indicate he wanted his followers to move away from the use of power and into the arena of authority and influence. We are to use our lives to proclaim the authority of God to influence our lives and lead us to live in new ways. His example and teaching influence us and model how to live in a way that influences the lives of others.

Pilate as the Roman governor had the power to execute Jesus. But Jesus’ influence and authority is still reverberating through the very fabric of human relationships. Power then is really an illusion. Power tries to seduce us; telling us that to wield it will make us seem better, larger, more formidable; more able to accomplish what we want to do. The more power we have the more illusory it is.

The longer I live the more I believe it is the ability to influence and the authority of our life’s integrity that actually can change the world around us and enlist others to join us in doing so in ways power cannot emulate.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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