power to command, or serve?

Rumbling around in my head are three recent experiences:  reading Hunger Games, watching Jesus of Nazareth,  and a devotional on the Triune God.  What is related in all three is power, the use of it by leaders.

In The Hunger Games, leadership power is used coercively to quelch any thought of rebellion. Katniss’s own sense of power or agency is directly related to her family, keeping them alive. She loves them, and she uses her power differently.

As I was watching the film Jesus of Nazareth this weekend, the contrast between Roman government and the Kingdom that Jesus preached could not be more clear.  While not all of the stories were represented accurately from a Scriptural perspective, what did pop out was any hint of uprising or perceived threat to the Roman Empire was quickly dealt with by force.  The sounds of the soldiers marching in step with their armor intact reinforced the effect in the film.

Then, last week, I was in a meeting where we were discussing the difference that worshipping a Triune God makes in our lives.  “If God were singular instead of triune, what difference would that make?” asked a colleague.  We could not say that God is love if He were dependent on a relationship with us in order to be loving.  The fact that God is triune means that He is love from His nature, the relationship self-existent in the Trinity, not from any causation external to Him.

The teachings of Jesus were SO counter-cultural.  Even his disciples were expecting Him to come in power to establish a physical, earthly kingdom.  His teachings were revolutionary- based not on coercive power, but based on the power of love- that He had directly experienced in the Godhead.  Perhaps no statement of His was more telling than this one:  A new commandment I give you, love one another as I have loved you.

The combination of events has made me think about my own use of power.  Am I using what power I have to serve others?  myself?  What is my capacity for engaging others and hearing them out?  for finding the gold in the criticism that is inevitable if you’re leading?

What do you think?  How do you use your power to serve others?

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