Authority and Power (2)

My last blog on Authority and Power hit the spot with a number of readers. ‘This almost exactly mirrors the situation I’m in’. ‘You must have written this just for me’, to mention a couple of comments.

And I’ve been told some harrowing tales of charities where there’s been a disharmony between authority and power. I’ve a dozen or more stories about lives that have been damaged by misuse of power mixed with absent authority.

Sometimes even when the two are in harmony it can still be dangerous when power is exercised badly.

King Lear is the masterclass in exercising authority and power badly, and interestingly, without taking counsel. He comes to his senses in the storm scene where he has his epiphany, seeing how badly he exercised the power he no longer had: ‘How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you from seasons such as these? (III.4.28-32). These words are regretful, remorseful, empathetic, and compassionate for the poor, a population that Lear has not noticed before. Lear recognises the parallels between their lives and his current situation. If you’ve been exercising power badly, pray God does not take you in such a direction to bring you to your senses.

There’s a saying, ‘whom the God’s would destroy, they first make mad’. We have our King Lear abroad in the world today. Pray he has an epiphany of his own before many more lives and livelihoods are destroyed.

I leave you with a Lenten prayer from Henri Nouwen.

The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me. Amen.

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