Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence by MaryKate Morse was this week’s assignment for my D.Min program. It dissects the intersection of body, leadership and power. She writes, “Leadership happens all the time, and it happens when we use our bodies to influence others. “(Loc 143). Prior to our London Advance I hadn’t given much thought about the connection between these things so I was excited to delve into Morse’s book.
I often want to minimize my connection to power. That comes from a combination of false humility and a desire to not acknowledge the ‘leg up’ I’ve had in life. I grew up in a home where my parents cared about me, I played sports, I had a good education and I never knew poverty. To use a sports analogy I was already on second base when the game started. I didn’t have far to get to ‘home base’ and be ‘successful.’ It has taken me years to come to accept that reality. Recently, my wife and I were looking at whether to adopt a particular child from China. There were some questions about a Mandarin medical report and we couldn’t move forward on until we had our answers. So, we pulled out all our networks and contacts and began looking for someone(s) who could help us answer our question. Within three hours we had three different people from the US, Canada and China who were looking at our reports. These were highly trained specialists in Mandarin and English and certainly not someone who stayed in a Holiday Inn last night. When that happened, it hit me again that I’m in a position of power. My networks, education and personality made what ought to be a very difficult thing to accomplish, rather easy. Morse is right to challenge us to acknowledge our power and then to push us to ensure that our power heals and not harms. She writes, “If we are to be God’s influencers, we need to come to grips with the role of power in our lives. If we are to incarnate the living presence of Christ, we must understand that combination of his power with our own. When we hold the dynamite, we need to know where we are using it for God’s purposes or for selfish ends (loc 327)
One of the most insightful chapters that helped me gauge power in my life was chapter six. Morse gave several factors that influence power and after looking at them, I find myself on third base and able to ‘walk home’ and be successful.
Gender – I am a male.
Culture – In moderate Baptist life I am at the center of my culture.
Extroversion/Introversion – I’m an extrovert who loves being able to meet and network with people which makes connecting with others who have power easy.
Age – I’m young, 34 to be exact.
Physical Features – I would say that I’m average looking. Though if you want to say I’m Brad Pitt, I’m okay with that.
Economic and Social Status – Both my wife and I have jobs that enable us to live without the usual stress of money.
Style of Dress – I have the freedom to dress however I want. I can dress down to make a certain segment of our society feel welcome or I can dress up to connect to another segment.
Education – I have a BA, M.Div. and will hopefully have a D.Min. in 2015 (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise). All of these are without debt.
Martial Status – I’m married with two great kids (and one on the way).
I’m very fortunate to have the power that I do. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to allow my power to serve me and only me. I need to continually find ways to use whatever power I have to advocate for others who weren’t born on second base, but in the parking lot and find themselves just trying to get in the ballpark to play.
How have you used your power to benefit others?