What's the best way to exercise the use of power? The biblical model, as demonstrated by Jesus, suggests that the men and women who have shaped the thoughts of people through the generations are men and women who, instead of hoarding power, were willing to give power away. In fact, most of you carry in your wallet a picture of someone who exemplified this.
I don't know if you've ever studied George Washington, but he was an extraordinary man. Let me share with you some of my favorite quotes from American history about him found in a book called Founding Brothers, written by Joseph Ellis. My point is simply this: learning to leverage your power for the sake of others, and learning to give power away appropriately, is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of incredible security and strength.
Joseph Ellis writes, "It is crucial to recognize that Washington and his extraordinary reputation rested less on his prudent exercise of power than on his dramatic flair for surrendering it." Washington was elected President once, then twice, and many wanted to elect him a third time. Others wanted to make him a king and create a monarchy like they had in England. However, Washington rejected the mantle of emperor and refused to become a king. Even King George III in England said, "If he does that (turns down the opportunity to be the emperor of the United States of America), he will be the greatest man in the world."
True to his word, on December 22, 1783, George Washington submitted his resignation to the Congress at its meeting in Annapolis. And here is the quote: "Having finished the work assigned to me, I now retire from the great theater of action." Doing so, he became the supreme example of a leader who could be trusted with power because he was always ready to give it away.
Can you imagine how different the influence of the church would be if Christians, when we recognize that we have power, immediately begin to look for an opportunity to leverage it for the sake of others? When you follow the example of Jesus and give away power appropriately, you gain tremendous influence. Solomon, another very powerful person, said, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act."
That's what you do if you really want to be powerful. You should always be ready to give your power away.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas