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Managing Power

That heehaw feeling

If we are honest with ourselves, it is often our failings as leaders that loom large in our minds. Those moments when we feel the ‘donkey ears’ forming on our heads as we put our foot in it, making elementary mistakes even after years of service. Those are the times we groan over. They are mostly to do with how we have ‘misused’ our power, or, better, forgotten how to manage it.

The birth of the prophet

If you have been following the St Fillan’s blog on prophecy (, you will see that we have talked there about the separation of powers that came about with Saul and David, as related in the First Book of Samuel. With the establishment of the monarchy, the days of the charismatic ‘ad hoc’ leader who acted as judge came to an end. From then on, the monarch would rule the people, and his ever-present critic, the prophet, would take on the role of reminding the king and the people of their duties and responsibilities to God. It became a question of who knew best. If the prophets were not telling the king what he wanted to hear, he tried to get rid of them, or at least get his own cronies. Negotiating power in the land became a tricky, and sometimes dangerous, business.

Priest, prophet and king

The union of the roles of prophet and king would come about in Christ. When we baptise a baby, the minister anoints them on the crown of their head and says, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.” In Christ and, so, in us, the roles of prophet and king (and priest – but more of that later) are united. The management of power becomes a decision about when to play the prophet and when to play the king. That will depend on how we allow God to work in us.

The push and the shove

We are not Christians in a vacuum; nor are we leaders without context and event. In other words, there is no ideal state in which we hum along oblivious to the world about us, existing in perfect removed harmony. Our harmony is brought about by the Spirit inspiring us to act and speak in the person of Christ. There are some ideals, and indeed rules, that we hold to. Other people may help and challenge us, but, by and large in life, it is largely up to us to judge whether we have ruled wisely and in accordance with justice and integrity. Sometimes we need to go out on a limb, the prophet in us telling us that God wants us to ‘not go with the flow’. Other times being a Christian is about being eminently practical and having a common-sense approach.

If we regularly take time to reflect, God will let us know how we did, in the gentlest, yet most challenging way.

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