Power Over or Power Under

Matthew 20:25-28     But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


51xXk62bcSL._AC_UY436_QL65_ML3_“When it comes to authority and power, unbelievers press down, restrict, dominate, control, and subdue, while believers are to have no part of it. We are instead to serve. When the world demeans, we empower; when they control, we promote freedom; when they act superior, we practice humility; when they reject accountability, we submit … The heart of pride longs for power over, but the heart of Christ calls for power under.”  

(Chris Moles, The Heart of Domestic Abuse, 73)


So … what sort of leaders are we? If we were to ask those under our care, are we best known as lords who lust for “power over,” or are we known as servants who long to express their “power under?”

Parents, are we the most life-giving and empowering leaders in our children’s lives? Do they know our commitment to die to self, pick up the cross, follow Jesus, and sacrifice for them whatever the cost? Or are we known as their authority figures most recognized by our many restrictions and sense of domination? Do we live for our children, or do our children live for us?

Husbands, are we the most freeing man in the life of our spouse? Are we the man who shows mercy and grace the most? Are our spouses most free to be themselves when we are around? Or, are we the patriarchal control freak in our wife’s life who continually uses, intimidates, manipulates and controls?

Church leaders, are we recognized as the lowest servants in the church? When people hear our names, is it our humility or pomposity that comes to mind?

Institutional leaders — owners, managers, officers, teachers, coaches, etc … — do those entrusted to our care see us as self-abasing, self-sacrificing servants? Are we known more as slaves or superiors?


Oh leading friends, let us look at Jesus Christ and see his standard of leadership.

  • He is God Almighty who became the least of these.
  • He is the Lord who became the lowly servant holding the towel.
  • He is the Creator who willingly ascended the cross and gave his life.
  • He is the High and Holy One who partook of the Father’s hell for his family’s sake.

Why did Jesus lead in this regard? He did so because he loved us. He also did so because he longed to save us from the condemnation and wrath our sins deserved. And many of those sins were sins of leadership.

  • He saw we were proud, arrogant, and abusive leaders.
  • He noticed how we press down, restrict, dominate, control, subdue, and abuse.
  • He hated our arrogant, self-worshiping, sheep-sacrificing idolatry.
  • He saw in us the proud heart of Satan manifesting itself in a lust to “power over.

Yes, we followed after Lucifer, and we deserved his eternal fate. However, Jesus would have none of that for us.

  • Jesus came to earth to lead.
  • Jesus lived and died for us.
  • Jesus leads us to his Gospel.
  • Jesus led us to have faith and repentance.
  • Jesus is in the process of leading us out of darkness into his glorious light.

Oh friends, let us see what we deserve and then look at Jesus. Let us meditate upon his love, leadership, self-sacrifice, mercy, grace, and extravagant care. Our leadership sins have been covered. We are free from the just condemnation we deserve. Right now, let us repent and rest in Jesus’ saving grace.

Then, let us rest in his daily leadership and relish in the blessings that accompany his ways. His truth is wonderful. His will is best. How happy are those who read, believe, and submit to him; they are those who enjoy him most. Yes friends, we can trust his guidance. We can trust his leadership. We have never had a better parent, husband, leader, and friend.

Then, let us lust and pray that we might lead after his heart and example. As we do so, a great smile can be seen coming from the Father’s face as he molds us in the image of his Son. In addition, great smiles can be seen coming from the faces of those about us who are worn out by the devilish leadership of their neighbors. Christlike leadership will be a breath of fresh air for them. How thankful they will be for leaders who forsake “power over” for “power under.”


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