controlled power

I meet with a group of pastors and leaders who are really intentional about developing one another.  We meet one time a month, read books, pray debate and discuss.  It is so helpful to have some high caliber leaders speaking into my life.  I am eternally grateful to these men who spend the time to do this with one another.

A few weeks ago I had a major insight into great leadership traits.  We were talking about gentleness in leadership.  At first gentleness sounds a little weak and conjures up images of some dude getting walked all over in the office, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Gentleness is really about self-control. It is about using the power that you have in a controlled way.   Many leaders could tear someone to shreds with just a few words.  But sometimes restraining your power can have an even greater affect.

I was thinking back to a time when my Pastor (who passed away in September) asked me to have lunch with him one day.  This was a while ago so the details are a little fuzzy, but essentially I had screwed up.  Instead of letting me knowing it and laying into me he restrained the power he had, guiding me through a series of questions that helped me realize I had screwed up.

I appreciated this for a few reasons.  First, It kept our relationship strong and in tact.  Instead of being disciplined and running away with my tail between my legs, we engaged in a thoughtful dialogue on whatever it was I messed up on.  Second, it gave me a model on how to handle conflict and staff issues.  But the main thing I noticed is that the entire encounter was gentle.  There was a sense that power was controlled for the greater good.

I got to thinking about the encounters that Jesus had with his disciples and even the religious elite of the day.  He modeled gentleness in his humility but also in his encounters with others.  God with flesh on could have quite a bit of power, but even from the moment of temptation in the dessert he withheld his power.  Which brings me to this point; the greatest power you can possess is the ability to not exercise it.  Maybe power is found in restraint and self control rather than blatant exercises of power.


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