We all have some power. What we do with it says a lot about who we are, in leadership, and in life.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Ephesians 6:12, NIV
There are so many different places to focus on how power is taken or given, we all have examples of how we have experienced this. We can differentiate in roles, gender, circumstances, socio-economic background, race…but power is something grappled as we learn to interact in community. And leadership is always found within community. How we lead and balance power, for good or destruction, deeply impacts on how others will flourish or flounder.
What traits do you seek and embody to lead within community?
According to the Pew Research Center Social and Demographic surveys, women are more honest, compassionate, outgoing, and creative; all important traits those are a few of the most of effective leaders. So why are most of the leaders in modern America men?(Women in Power: Leadership Differences by Gender)
Much of the language we use for power today is ensconced in the ideal of ‘freedom’. Freedom sounds so good to us. To be free in a very generalized sense means we are without restraint. It makes for great bumper stickers, t-shirts, and rants on social media. We see it in the Bible as life in Christ is unpacked, gaining freedom from the eternal power of death. It changes the way we do life, when we consider the feeling of freedom. Those who experience and understand true freedom feel, empowered. So the question could easily be turned around: Does your leadership bring freedom?
If the traits described above are the most desired of leaders, it should say something about what we strive to establish as a leader. If leadership is more about empathy and creating a safe space, then why would anyone strive to be the opposite? Most people do not try to be lacking in empathy, for example, but we so often do so when our freedom diminishes the freedom of another. If we do not show creativity in helping others through situations, and help them become more through this circumstances, then we are merely managing the freedom of others to grow.
Freedom is power. Power is freedom.
To ‘Lead Freely’ means that you are able to be honest with yourself, own your identity and growth, and are being more than simply doing. The doing comes from being free, and managing the power you have been given. If you believe you are free but struggle with empowering others, it is another power grab. If others feel powerless in your presence, or through your leading, you need to reflect on why your power is reliant on taking it from someone else. ‘Powers and principalities’ seem so far away, an abstract to our ‘real world’ experience. The truth is we encounter them at all times, and may contribute to them and their effect while imagining what our own freedom feels like.
Freedom and power walk hand in hand. There is a glaring need for more leaders who give both to those in community with them. Listen to other voices, hear the hearts of others, imagine the kingdom of God as the people with you, not under you.
Be free as you lead, and freely give it away.