How do you treat others who can never pay you back?
We all find ourselves in very real scenarios where we hold varying amounts of power. Are you a parent? You may not always feel like it, but you are in charge. Are you the boss? Owner? Teacher? Director? Club president? Do you carry social power in your group? Wealth brings a certain kind of power. Are you wealthy? There are many areas of our lives where we can feel powerless and want to tell the “powers who are” how to do things. Before that happens, what would you do with all the power? How do you treat those right now that can’t repay you?
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11
Jesus did not grasp his power. A power he rightly has. That is completely the opposite of what we experience and absorb every day of our life. Simple but dramatic contrast. This use of power is revolutionary and the heart of Jesus, our faith, and our invitation to follow him.
True power is not domineering, humility is not weakness. Seen in Jesus, these attributes are aspirational and take intentionality. Jesus is our example in every way. More than a corporate slogan, non-profit cause, or value on the wall, we are called to demonstrate power through service. Christian, follower of Jesus, are you the best boss your employees have had? This doesn’t mean there are no performance reviews, but it could change how they are administered.
The cool thing is that this was modeled and said by Jesus over 2,000 years ago, and many leadership books and podcasts are just starting to catch up with it. Humility, serving, and the CEO who cares are all concepts that work. Yes, because Jesus created us and knows the best way for us to live.
The good news is we follow a King who doesn’t just pronounce from on high what to do but gives us an example. Gives us himself. He washes his disciples’ feet and says, “if I as your master would do this, then you should do it for each other.” (Jn 13)
So, what do you do when you realize you are the most powerful person in the room?
Look to Jesus. Then with strength and conviction, walk humbly as he did knowing that it is the right thing to do. It might cost you, but those around you will notice. Some might even ask where you learned how to lead the way you do.
Q. What different social settings do I have significant influence or power?
Q. How could I use my power or influence in a humble way rather than a self-serving one?