I recently bumped into a few friends that made me wonder about the relationship between power and friendship.  Here’s the deal…

These friends attend First Community Church.  Over a cup of coffee they described their frustration with the powers that be.  The crux of their disappointment? They felt unnoticed by those at the top, most particularly the senior leadership of First Community Church.  This seemed a bit odd to me since these friends are no slouches when it comes to knowing how to lead and leave an impressive impact. After we got our refills the conversation turned more personal.  We kicked around the various and fancy pieces of the frustration–leadership structure, large organizational dynamics, the down side of growth and inter-personal communication.  Then I asked the question, “Tell me about your friendship with the person you feel most at odds with in the frustration?”  In this case, the senior pastor. Jack shared, “We used to be close.  Spending time together and being able to talk about things other than the latest burning issue at the church.  We knew that our community would experience a taste of the Kingdom on earth if we loved one another.  And we have.  But now I feel like an outsider.  I know I shouldn’t complain, after all he has too many other important things on his plate, and I can understand why since our church has become so big.  I know it sounds a bit whinny, but I’m not sure I or the ministry I care about matter anymore.” Truth be told these friends were a bit whinny.  After I shared some of my fancy leadership prescriptions for the fancy pieces of their frustration, I began to wonder how success and power can get in the way of elementary things like care, respect, laughter, love and friendship.  First Community Church was indeed growing and yet at the same time a slow hard to detect erosion was at work.

 

James Houston said to me one time, “We must beware of the subtle seduction of power, and ask ourselves from time to time, ‘Where are we becoming too powerful?'”  Over time power unchecked can erode important elementary things like care, respect, laughter, love and friendship.  And eventually the house falls down. Where are you becoming too powerful?


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