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The Ease of “Power Abuse”

People can abuse power in a non-profit organization or on a church board, around a dinner table or in a street gang. Or in a marriage. Face it: power is that mouth-watering addiction to being in charge.

Power is abusive when it slips into control. The greatest picture we have of power used correctly is God Himself: He created beings with free will who could choose to love and obey Him or not. Try to imagine the Chief of New York City’s Finest standing by, with all his available firepower, while his son is nailed to a telephone pole in the Bronx by a petty gang of thugs. In the 1990’s, Stew Leonard was a smart entrepreneur in Connecticut who turned a family dairy business into a shopping theme park with a petting zoo and singing animatronic animals. Back in the day, Tom Peters, the author of the mega-seller In Search of Excellence, praised Stew for his business acumen and ethics, a model for excellence. Leonard had pictures of himself with movie stars and ex-presidents. Someone got suspicious when Leonard turned up at an airport with a suspicious amount of pocket cash—$75,000. The feds ended up raiding him and discovered a computer program in a hollowed out book that Stew had used to cheat the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Arrogance—a spawn of power—answers to no one. In the Old Testament, David understood the vanity of power. He had seen a bigger-than-life, impressive king—a head taller than his brothers—become arrogant and unresponsive to God. He was replaced by a shepherd boy with a slingshot. David wrote in Psalm 20: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Problem is: none of us is bulletproof. Decades later, in the time of year “when kings go off to war”, David, the powerful king of Israel, didn’t. Instead he found himself voyeuristically watching a woman bathe. In an astonishing abuse of power, he had her ordered to him. He knew her husband Uriah was off fighting the King’s war…his war. And how does one resist the orders of a celebrated and powerful king, “anointed by God”? Months later she sends a terse message to King David: I’m pregnant. Eventually David has Uriah surreptitiously killed in battle…and Bathsheba mourns for her loss. David makes her his wife and all doesn’t end happily. It was an abuse of power. And a generational mess. Bathsheba was the wife who later gave birth to Solomon who would lead Israel into her glory days, but with a price. Though he humbly asks God for one thing—wisdom (and receives it supernaturally in spades)—he eventually gave in to the entitlement that power temptingly bequeaths, ends up chasing the gods of his many wives, and not finishing well. It’s taken right from the TMZ files of today. So what’s to be learned for us commoners? Don’t kid yourself: you’re richer and more powerful than you think. You’re more-than-likely reading this on your own computer. And if you own a home and a car and get a cost-of-living increase each year, you’re among the wealthiest 15% in the entire world. If it’s two salaries and two cars, you’re in the top 5% of the blue planet. You’re not bulletproof. Nor am I. There’s only one way into the Kingdom’s narrow door: humbly, bent over and admitting who you are to the One whom you aren’t: God. And consider the practice regularly; I’ve watched powerful preachers and people-of-God fall like lightning. They stumbled into the lie they could handle power better than anyone else…and by that assessment abused it. “To whom much is given (perhaps that’s all-inclusive to those of us who have received His mercy?), much is required.” Dave Workman | The Elemental Group


The Elemental Churches Inventory is a revolutionary web-based assessment system that combines individual and team learning through online tools and videos with sage coaching. It not only gives a focused snapshot of where you are, but provides a comprehensive report with recommended action steps that can be turned into your strategic plan toward effectiveness and health!


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