It is of vital importance that we wrestle with the issues of power and deception. As believers and leaders, we never want to hear the word “woe” from God. This is what He spoke to the shepherds of Israel in the book of Ezekiel 34:4. “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.” The leaders in Ezekiel’s time had misused their God-given power leaving the flock vulnerable to be preyed upon. God responded by removing the flock from their care.
Out of honor for God we need to feed and care for the well-being of those God has placed around us.
Each one of us has power but what does that mean? Power is the ability and strength exercised to influence, shape, and impact others. We all have power as given to us by God at creation. It is part of the image of God in us. “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). These are strong words that say we have the ability to influence and shape our worlds.
Power can be used for good or it can be abused. When power is used in ways that wound a person, trust has been exploited, and abuse has occurred. Abuse means to use in a wrong way or to mistreat. When a person with power uses another for their own ends abuse has occurred.
There are four kinds of power physical, verbal, emotional, and intellectual. Physical power is when someone is bigger and stronger and wields it over someone weaker. It can also be someone who has personality and charisma that dominates a room. Verbal power comes with someone who has an articulate command of words and can control a conversation. Words can influence, shape, encourage, humiliate, deceive, and control. Emotional power is when someone holds everyone around them in bondage to their feelings. People can walk on eggshells trying to prevent a person from being angry or aggravated. A person can wield power with knowledge and intellect because it is assumed that they know more and are given the right to tell the rest of the world what is true.
Power can be abused to exploit the trust of the vulnerable. Abuse of power has three components self-deception, deception of others, and coercion.
Self-deception becomes a habit of the mind protecting us from seeing or feeling that which is painful. It becomes a habit of the soul to look at things diametrically opposed to the way God sees them. It is all about hiding, pretending, ignoring, and covering things up. In self-deception we justify ourselves in that which we know is wrong. We hear this often as a person blames another rather than take responsibility for their own issues. We apply the narcotic of self-deception in order to maintain good feelings or an image of ourselves, even though we know what we are doing is wrong.
We can like to use our God-given gifts to lift ourselves up, to get our way, render ourselves never wrong, and keep ourselves unaccountable.
When we have the fear of God in our hearts a powerful factor is introduced into the battle for our soul. When there is no fear of God and we silence that fear, we can easily move into the self-deception that we can sin and there won’t be any consequences. This is very similar to how the Enemy convinced Eve she would not die. We convince ourselves that we can stop. If we engage in self-deception long enough, we lose our taste for what is good. When we start removing the value in our hearts for what is good and what is evil, then we begin to habituate what causes the death of our souls. Over time repentance becomes a remote possibility.
This all sounds so horrible, but it does show up in our lives in subtle ways. Deception can lie under the surface of high position, great knowledge, articulate verbal skill, and excellent performance. It is crucial to understand deception, or we will fall terribly short of our efforts to change. Underlying every addiction is an engine of self-deception. Behind the self-deception is a history that will be important to understand, because it tells a story of how the behavior developed.
All the power we hold has been given to us by the One who holds it all (Matthew 28:18, John 20:21). He has shared what is His with us. It is not ours. It is His. If you have the power of words than the Word gave you that power. Are you physically powerful? The Lord God Almighty who breaks down all the strongholds gave you that power. Do you have the power of position? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords gave it to you. Do you have knowledge, skill, or hold emotional power? The Comforter and Wonderful Counselor gave that power to you. The power God has given you is for glorifying Him. How are you using your power to give Him glory?