February 4, 2020
Scripture: Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Thought for the Day: If my Greek is coming back to me, a literal reading of the passage would be:
All things I have vigor/strength in/with the one empowering me.
The Greek word for ‘strengthening” (I translated it as empowering) is Endunamoo. En = in, by or with; dunamoo = to make strong. Dunamoo comes from the noun, Dunamis which is where we get our English word for dynamite.
This past Sunday, I spoke about power and how it has been used in the life of the church. Churches and other institutions are in constant struggle with good and bad uses of power. A person or group can become convinced that something needs to happen for the sake of the institution’s integrity or mission, and power will be used to sway or even force that outcome. One of the real problems arrises when whatever that conviction that has been pushed is not for the betterment of the institution, but the self-serving purpose of an individual or group within the institution.
As a pastor, I spend a considerable amount of time wresting with my motivation. I don’t see myself as a power-hungry individual, but my job and title do provide me with power. And the institution, Cypress Creek Christian Church, pays me money every two weeks, and I enjoy getting that paycheck. There is a self-serving reason to protect the revenue above the mission. Do I choose to ignore the tap of the Holy Spirit when it comes to preaching on a certain topic simply because I am afraid that someone might get mad and leave? Am I even able to name that self-serving motivation because it is so close to home?
This is where it is good that the church has a structure beyond the pastor, and I have colleagues and friends outside the church who I use as sounding boards. These people have been given permission to speak honestly to me, call me out when necessary, and even to tell me that it might be time to pack it up. This isn’t necessarily perfect, but power has the potential of corrupting both individuals and the institution. At the same time, power that is used wisely, with humility and openness, has the potential of doing great things. Jesus had power, though maybe not traditional power. His power was found in his compassion, love and generosity that got him killed. Self-serving was the very last thing on the mind of Jesus. May he be our mentor and our model!
Prayer: Continue to be that mindful voice, that reflective presence, in my life. O Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me this day. Continue to shape me so that my life grows in its capacity to reflect Jesus, and his humble and self-sacrificing use of power. Amen.
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