Back in 2016, I wrote a Banner editorial on “Power-With“. This is a concept I acquired from reading Jim Olthuis’ The Beautiful Risk. Olthuis didn’t really elaborate on the concept but used it evocatively in his descriptions about two different spiritual ways – the spirituality of control and the spirituality of compassion (p. 42). In his description, the spirituality of control manifests itself in one-directional power-over, while the spirituality of compassion manifests itself in multi-directional power-with.
I really liked this concept as I think it helps add a layer to our understanding and engagement of power in our lives and in our institutions. The old adage that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is tired but also an overstatement. Power, in that popular idiom, is inherently corrupting, inherently negative. From a biblical worldview perspective, I will say that is only looking at power from the lens of sin and the fall. But God, of course, is powerful and used power to create the world and all of life. Power, originally, was good. God even built power into the fabric of creation. Here are excerpts from my editorial as I start teasing out this concept of power-with:
(This is the opening devotion I gave when I hosted the regional gathering of my denomination’s churches – Classis Toronto of the Christian Reformed Church as it’s called – at York University, Toronto on May 6, 2010)
Text: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 (I read from Eugene Peterson’s The Message. Click on the link to read it.)
When we think of leaders, we often think of charismatic leaders, people who are natural influencers, natural born-leaders, people who act the part and look the part as well. I have read student ministry books that suggest you target and recruit mainly those students who are natural born leaders in their social circles. When we look at king David, we often see the quintessential leader, perhaps the greatest king of Israel in the OT. We think of the man after God’s heart. But his beginnings were very different. Before David was pushed into the spotlight with his victory over Goliath, David was not a natural born leader. He was not a ring leader nor was he charismatic. No one, it seemed, thought much of him. And no one expected much of him. Continue reading “Spirit-Born Leaders”→
There’s a saying that goes, “Home is where the heart is”. This saying acknowledges that home is more than having a roof over your head. Home is more than just a place to live, eat and sleep. Home is more than your permanent residence. When you tell people that you are going home for the holidays, most people assume that you are going home to your parents, and most likely to the town or city where you were born and raised. Home is where our loved ones are, and where we have strong emotional ties. Home is where your heart is. If home is where the heart is, then homelessness is where the heart is lost. If home is more than having a roof and four walls, homelessness is more than lacking a roof and four walls. Continue reading “Between Empire and Home”→