“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” Ephesians 3:7
Every three years I have to retake the same exact class. It’s not just me though, it’s every minister in the United Church of Christ. In order to remain in good standing we have to take boundary training. The course covers a variety of topics that relate to the social boundaries within a church setting. The thesis of the course can be summarized as; be gracious, wise, and full of care with your ministerial authority. Or, as Uncle Ben from Spider-Man would say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Although, I don’t know of any pastor who would say that she/he has “great power.” I don’t know anyone who would say that. Perhaps though, we should.
• We minimize the power we have out of a desire to be humble.
• We don’t see the power we have because someone else has made us feel small.
• We disregard the power we have because we were never taught to use it.
Power seems to come with both a negative and seductive connotation in our culture. Complete this common saying, “Power ______. Absolute power ________ absolutely.”
Yet, I am convinced that such sentiments lead us away from truth. As women and men made in the image of powerful God, we have been given power. As a people blessed by the Holy Spirit, we have power. If we are to serve, then we must recognize that we have the power to serve. We have been given powerful gifts that can be used to bless others in ways beyond our understanding. How can we share something if we don’t acknowledge that we are holding it in the first place? Or as author, poet, and activist Alice Walker puts it, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
The profound lesson of the gospel is that, ultimately all power, in its essence, derives from God and in Christ we see that power is meant to be poured out, not hoarded; it is meant to liberate, not oppress; it is meant to exalt the other, not aggrandize the self. This is what God does throughout scripture and this is heard clearly in the hymn of the ancient church, recorded in Philippians 2:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
Your voice; your perspective; your learnings; your skills; your passions; your smile; your presence; there is power in all of it because all of these things, all of you, is animated by the powerful grace of God.
How will you use your power to serve?
“Powerful God, give me the humility to see the power you’ve blessed me with. Grant me the strength to pour out this power of yours in ways that are life giving to others and honoring to you.”