Sometimes I consider the hilarity of how long it takes me to remember that power grabs are never the way to real transformation.
The only real path is to lay power down.
Have you ever felt in the midst of a power struggle? Ever felt like your influence, control or very leadership call was at stake because it was being threatened by other power brokers?
Well let me ask it a different way: have you stormed out of a meeting (internally of course, no one physically storms out of meetings anymore) feeling ill-at ease because you didn’t have voice?
In my mind that’s still a power issue… because your voice is tied to influence and influence is tied to what kind of power you are allowed.
Don’t you just love being fed your own words sometimes? Well it was nearly 6 years ago-my 1st real year in church ministry work-that I began to realize the truth about laying down power.
I can remember even coaching another member of our staff on what appears to be an everlasting principle of ministry leadership and it is this:
The lowest man wins.
The first person who can lay prostrate on the ground, in the face of someone who is grabbing for power, wins.
And I mean this naturally and spiritually.
Naturally… think about your favorite people to work with or be led by… are they pompous, prideful and power-hungry or are they humble and meek?
The lowest man wins.
Spiritually… think about almost every word Jesus said to the very last that bound him to that instrument of torture and death: if you want to be first, you must be last, if you want to gain your life you must forsake your life.
The lowest man wins.
Mike Erre has this incredible podcast about “power over VS power under.” It’s a lovely reminder for us all.
In last week’s post I wrote essentially about humble leadership. That, ostensibly, was not the title or purpose of the post, but that is the precise example put on display by John the Baptist in John 3:30.
Well it turns out that last weeks post, along with that scripture passage, was written and directed for me, to me, about me for the following week (this week).
Somewhere in there I think I even prayed for humility… I’m telling you it’s so stinking true what they say “be careful what you wish (pray) for… cause you might just get it.” Well, done and done… I was put in my place this week.
And honestly, I can say it was good; it was very good.
In Patrick Lencioni’s great book, The Ideal Team Player, he outlines this concept of hungry, humble and smart-that’s the ideal staff, team member, person.
When I heard him speak at a conference exactly a year ago next month, I knew instantly which area I needed the development in: humility. And then this week it seemed that God was doling it out in kind.
First I was put in my place organizationally.
Then I realized the scripture, that I thought was meant for someone else (the one from John 3:30-I must become less and he must become more), was actually meant precisely for me.
Then I’m reading in a book about how really leadership is all about adding value to other people’s lives, not how smart I look or sound OR advancing my ends.
Leadership, at it’s best, is literally just about seeing other people win.
So it was left and right-healthy portions of humble pie. And it was cool; because I need it.
You ever been in a fight with a friend? But you realized that it was ridiculous at some point… like how did we get here and what are we even talking about right now?
I got into a little spat with one of my closest friends about a week ago over something that we both care deeply about and have potentially different views about how to approach it.
After we texted back and forth (to no avail in my mind at least), we finally spoke on the phone it was settled in moments. He texted me after and said, I think half jokingly, ‘I’m glad we’re not fighting anymore.’
And it’s so funny because my thought instantly in that moment was this:
I wasn’t fighting you… in fact, I ain’t never fought a man a day in my life.
And here’s the scripture passage behind what I meant:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
As hard as it is to imagine the spiritual realm in today’s postmodern age of ‘trust only what is proven and palpable,’ in an instant I knew this was what was happening; as simple as daylight.
Now an appropriate question would be: what do these 3 stories have to do with each other?
Well whether you’re asking that or not, I’d like to know the answer…
Here are some common denominators:
- they are my personal learnings from just the past 7 days
- they are what God is showing me, speaking to me, teaching me
- they are, I think, all rooted in 1 major point…
And it’s that point that I want to land today.
Here it is: asymmetrical warfare.
Asymmetrical warfare is defined simply this way:
warfare involving surprise attacks by small, simply armed groups on a nation armed with modern high-tech weaponry.
Here’s how I would paraphrase: a war being fought where the seemingly smaller and seemingly insignificant and seemingly easy to overcome and seemingly disproportionate side actually keeps winning.
One of the greatest ploys of the ‘evil rulers’ is power… AND one of the greatest, and most asymmetrical, responses to that ploy is the transcendent power of the cross (through a humble dying to oneself).
If power is the spearhead tactic of the enemy then humility is the power of the cross.
The fact is: there is a war waging all around us and I’d say if you’d like to stop forfeiting more battles, then join me as I learn to take up the asymmetrical power of the cross.