By Howard Rich
We’ve all heard Lord Acton’s saying, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Most leaders do not hold absolute power, but all of us hold some power. Power is an essential force in human relations, but it can be a major hindrance to leading as a steward. Successfully handling the intoxicating and often corrupting effects of power requires humility, thoughtful consideration, and a complete reliance on God as the true source of power. The benevolent use of power is not easy because it goes against our self-centered desires, yet leaders can be set free from its tyranny when they realize the power they wield is not theirs.
In Luke 12:42-44 Jesus tells us the faithful steward will dutifully watch over and provide for those under his care. By releasing power, those who hold it can use it for the benefit of those who are without power. This goes right to the heart of stewarding, shepherding, and enabling leaders to exercise their own authority under God. Releasing power sends a signal that the leader is confident in his position and understands he must give away his power if he is going to effectively lead the organization.
So, how do we open our hands and loosen our grip on power? Ultimately, a steward leader realizes true power belongs to God and flows from Him. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours…in your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.”
Leaders can successfully release power by moving their focus from self to God, and subsequently channeling their power for the benefit of His Kingdom. Stewardship of followers in an organization requires leaders to release power and enable those under their leadership, unleashing their power for good in the lives of those under their care.
In his book, The Steward Leader, Scott Rodin explains, “steward leaders empower their people, give away authority, value and involve others, see the best in and from their people, and constantly lift others up.” We all want to be valued as competent, responsible, and trusted contributors to the success of our organizations.
Effective steward leaders will set guidelines, assign tasks, and define roles which distribute power among followers, creating an environment of empowerment. Leaders who desire to empower followers to make decisions, develop talent, and contribute to the vision of an organization must loosen their grip on power.
Question: Are you willing to find creative solutions for sharing power and decision-making authority in your organization?