What is power, and who is guilty of desiring it? We often think of power as referring to prominent politicians or tyrannical dictators. But even ordinary people can be involved in exercising power over others. Husbands over wives or wives over husbands, parents over children or children over parents, employers over employees or employees over employers, pastors over congregations or congregations over pastors. None or us is immune. Now that does not mean there should not be positions of authority in society. God commands such structure (Colossians 3:18-4:1; Hebrews 13:17; Romans 13:1-7). But Scripture turns the normal pattern upside down and makes the leader the servant (Mark 10:42-45; Ephesians 5:25-32; 1 Peter 5:1-4). The ultimate example of this is Jesus Christ, who is God Himself but humbled Himself to pay the price for our sins (Philippians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 13:1-17).
But we live our lives in the midst of petty power struggles. We also commonly live with the fear that if we do not fight back, we will be run over roughshod. If we do not play office politics, we will lose our job, or at least our chance of advancement. If we do not find a way to control our spouse, we could lose our marriage or at least be henpecked or dominated. If we do not control the lives of our children, we can lose them to all those damaging influences out there. If we do not steer our church in the right direction, we will be spiritually stunted. If we do not force people to do what we want, we will lose out on any hope of personal fulfillment. And the irony of this is that by trying to manipulate these things, we can bring about everything we are trying to avoid. We can ruin our jobs, our marriages, our children, our churches, and our lives. It seems the harder we try to hold on to something by pure human effort, the more likely we are to strangle the life out of it. What we really need to do is step back and trust God with these things (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Matthew 6:25-34). Now what I am advocating is not total passivity but approaching life with a new attitude. One of not worrying if I am in control but trusting God that He is. This results In facing problems with calm assurance rather than self-centered desperation (Philippians 4:6,7; 1 Peter 5:7; John 16:33). And we will then have confidence to do but not overdo the things that need to be done. I am far from claiming to have reached this point. I still have the strong temptation to want to run my own life and to turn to God only when I have run it into the ground. Be if we really accept that God is in control of our lives, we can begin to break the habit of wanting to control everything and everybody ourselves.