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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

July 20, 2010 - The Love of Power

By Robert C. Crosby

Napoleon was obsessed with power. He wrote: “I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies. I love it as an artist.” Nietzsche waxed suspicious of the Napoleons in his world, saying, “I have found power where people do not look for it, in simple, gentle and obliging men without the least desire to domineer — and conversely the inclination to domineer has often appeared to me as an inner sign of weakness.”

Others throughout history have been less enchanted with power. Lord Acton is oft-quoted as saying, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Erich Fromm asserted, “The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness.” James F. Byrnes warns, “Power intoxicates men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol he can recover, but when intoxicated by power he seldom recovers.”

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it poignantly: “Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

At home, often husbands and wives struggle with each other for power. Children strive to pry themselves free from their parents’ power, or siblings contend with each other for power. On the job, some employers opt for force and fear tactics to motivate employees, while employees pour their energies into forming unions to force change upon their employers. Power permeates our culture politically, socially, racially and financially.

In Jesus’ day, power was a central issue. Many of the Jews saw Roman culture as a power threat; the Romans, rather, preferred to view their own influence not as mere power, but as “progress.” The Pharisees perceived power as a chance to legislate righteousness among the populace in the form of tedious laws and traditions. The Zealots, on the contrary, were tired of talk; they were determined to fight fire with fire in the name of God … to overpower the “power brokers” of their day with the sword.

Jesus issued a warning to the Pharisees: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces” (Luke 11:43, NIV). He also issued a challenge to the men who followed him, “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

I’ll have more to say on that subject next week in “The Power of Love.”

— Robert C. Crosby is professor of practical theology at Southeastern Assemblies of God University in Lakeland, Fla.



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