I have been saddened to hear this week more reports of people abusing power. The most recent incidents have mostly been by men, but I don’t have to dig very hard to find examples from women, too. Some of those who have been accused have admitted to their guilt, while others adamantly deny any wrong doing.
Power is something that most of us have access to. Personal power has a way of ebbing and flowing depending on the situation. With that said, I wonder how often we under-estimate how much power that we have? We get to influence and impact lives. Sometimes we have a positive impact, other times we have a negative impact. We get to decide how we are going to use our power.
This week I had a chance visit with someone who used to attend one of the churches that I pastored. He was telling me that back when the lottery was so big (I nodded, like I knew what he was talking about), he decided how he would spend part of the money if he won. His plan was to give every veteran living in a veteran’s home money to re-decorate their room. He said that he would do this for all of them, with maybe a budget of $5,000 each. Then he said sadly while shaking his head that he didn’t win, and he wouldn’t be able to do this. I pointed out that he is in the position to be able to do this for at least one veteran right now. He hurried and changed the subject.
The bigger question, though, is whether we are abusing our power. One of the questions that we can ask is, are we are using our power the way that Jesus wants us to use it. If we are hurting other people, the answer is almost certainly “no”. Another indicator is where we have our focus. If our focus is completely, or primarily, on ourselves, we are likely not conforming to Jesus’ desires.
It is easy for us to be outraged when we hear how someone else has abused their power. This reaction can be appropriate. It is a lot more difficult—and sometimes something we try to avoid– for us to take a hard look at our own actions. How kind, gentle, and loving are we? If we have actions that we are trying to keep secret from the world, we might have an issue. This is where repentance can come into play.
Repentance is not only possible, but a gift from God. We can change when we find ourselves not honoring Christ’s example for us. It is so much less painful, however, for others, us, and the world, if we don’t stray from Jesus’ plan for us to begin with. If it is already too late for yesterday, there is still time for today and tomorrow.
Our time in this world is so brief. Let’s use every minute that we have left for doing good. Each of us has work to do, and potential to reach. Jesus has invested his very life into us for this moment!
Your brother on the journey, Mark