Home Voices Ed Stetzer: Pastors and Power, Part 1 – The Place of Power

Ed Stetzer: Pastors and Power, Part 1 – The Place of Power

We Need to Recover a Biblical Understanding of Power.

However, if people believe the power they possess is a gift, they will come to see power as something they steward for the good of the one who graciously gave them the gift.

The Bible as a whole — and Jesus specifically — speaks clearly and unequivocally about the proper understanding of power. God owned the created order, for He created the heavens and the earth.

After establishing the created order, God delegated to humanity power to make something of this world in a manner that would glorify Him and be beneficial to others. In doing so, God envisioned his good, perfect, and flourishing kingdom being established on earth through the delegated power of man.

The Right Foundation

Pastors and church leaders, when it comes to properly understanding and using power, we must begin with this foundation. Without a biblical foundation and framework for power, we will lead ourselves and our people to rationalize, spiritualize, and personalize (individualize) power.

Consequently, we will misuse and abuse power — whether intentionally or unintentionally. However, if we have a theo-centric view — and more specifically, a Christo-centric view — of power, we will come to understand that we are to submit our power to the Source of power by stewarding power under His lordship.

The greatest example for recovering our understanding of power is Jesus. As James Hunter describes, Jesus utilized “social” (or relational) power to break and bring healing to the corrupt, manipulative, and coercive power of the world.

Hunter goes on to note four distinct features of Christ that embodied and demonstrated a different kind of power.

  • Power was founded upon complete intimacy and submission to the Father
  • Power rejected status and reputation
  • Power was defined by compassion
  • Power was non-coercive

In short, as we follow the way of Jesus, we will come to see the subtlety of power, the scope of power, and the stewardship of power as we work to make something of the world for the glory of God and the good of others.

Read the next part in this series here.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and he has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves at his local church, Highpoint Church, as a teaching pastor. Dr. Stetzer is currently living in England and teaching at Oxford University.