Power: A Great Tool or Not?

Most of us leaders have some sense of the fact that with leadership comes many things, and one of the trickiest things is power.

Leaders by definition have power. Is this power a good thing or a bad thing, is power a great tool for good or a temptation that leads to evil?

Power: A great tool or not?

As a leader I struggle with this idea, how can I best use my power when I realize it can easily be used as a weapon against people and even against God himself.

The first form power can take is position. Many times someone will have a position of leadership and that also gives them some power.  I would caution against finding your leadership identity in the position you hold or do not hold. Many times people try to leverage their leadership position into power and this has its inevitable challenges.

The second form power in leadership can take place is through influence. Now many times people say influence is what a leader should truly want and work for, which is true, but just like position-influence in the hands of the wrong person can lead to destructive power. Positive influence is what we strive towards as leaders. But influence can just as easily be negative.

Leaders can gain power through manipulation, misrepresentation, outright lying and cheating, among other things.

We’ve seen so far that a leader can gain power through position or influence. But how can we best leverage our power to lead God’s people to the best of our ability?

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Be genuine

This is important because it involves what a leader’s true intentions are. See a leader can come off as selfless, or as a servant leader, or even Christ-like but really their intentions are to build and gain more power for themselves. Without the genuine desire to lead people in a way that will help them be better followers of Jesus, power is a bad thing, but with the right intentions and desires power becomes a great tool.

2. Be selfless

A leader in the church, or a leader for God must have selfless intentions and desires. Intentions and desires to lead people to Christ and then to help cultivate and grow their relationship with him once that decision has been made. When selfish desires seep in to a leader’s intentions, their power again will become a negative. But, if they keep their selfless  desires then the power is a good thing.

3. Be a servant

A leader must set out to serve those they lead. When they start to serve their desires and ambitions then their mission is  clouded and power will become a negative. Instead of the leader being the servant the leader will look for others  to serve him. If a leader keeps a servant leader mentality then their power will be well placed.

4. Be Christ-like

This is self-explanatory but a Christ-like leader who holds influence and power will serve God and God’s people with conviction and purpose. This must be an intention and a desire for leaders.

See power is a good thing! The problem is good and bad leaders alike possess power, let’s aspire to be good leaders and leverage power like Jesus did. 

What are your thoughts on power in leadership? Let me know!

Written by Joe Hoagland

Joe Hoagland

Joe is a pastor at Grape Grove Church of Christ in Jamestown, Ohio. He is newly married to his awesome wife Jenna and together they have 2 spoiled dogs and a cat.

He loves to lead people to Jesus and preach God’s word.

You can often times find Joe hiking, camping, writing, reading, or enjoying technology.