Recent scientific studies indicate that we need to think differently about what power is. Dacher Keitner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, has studied power, especially in a wide variety of groups of people, for decades. He has concluded that power is not, in fact, about coercive force. Rather, “the science finds that power is not grabbed, but given to individuals by groups. Your ability to make a difference in the world—your power—is shaped by what other people think of you.” He goes on to say, “Your capacity to alter the state of others depends on their trust in you.” The conclusion, he says, is, “If you want others to follow you, think less about you and more about them.”
The disciples knew how things work in the world. Much better to be the guy on top, the guy with all the power. People serve him and he exercises authority, meaning he tells everybody what to do. He “lords it” over the powerless nobodies under his power. The guys underneath, the ones without power, just get abused and used and have no way to protect themselves. The world’s view of power is akin to the Roseanne Barr view. It’s about ruling, lording it over others, getting your way. Jesus said that view of power has no place in his kingdom. In his kingdom you get power by serving people, by putting them before yourself. You can do that because God the Father is all powerful, and he cares for you, so you are free to give up self to serve others. Jesus himself, the Lord of all, the one through whom all that exists came into being, gave himself up to serve us, a world full of nobodies. He served when he rightfully should have been served by all that exists.
Isn’t interesting to learn that modern “experts” are realizing that Jesus was right all along? If we want power, the ability to really impact others, then the way to do it is to give up serving self, to humble ourselves and do all we can to serve others. When they see that we truly love them and that they can trust us, then we will find out what power really is.