Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A better way than "guilty victim"

Even though pastors and leaders have power they sometimes feel powerless. Watch out when leaders feel powerless because they tend to notch up the power of their actions to overcome their feelings of powerlessness and people get hurt.

But there's a better way to deal with feelings of powerlessness.

Take me. On Saturday I was part of an all day retreat of the communal group I belong to--Plow Creek Fellowship. Late in the day I said something and another person disagreed with me. Of course, I thought my idea was great and would benefit the group. That's what leaders tend to think about their thinking (:lol:).

It wasn't the time or the place for us to work out the disagreement. Later I found myself still fretting about the exchange. "No matter what I say," I thought, "he's going to disagree with me."

Even as I thought that I knew it made no sense. After all, earlier in the day I had said something and the same person had strongly agreed with me.

When I start making mental blanket negative statements about another person I know it's usually a carry over from another experience, often a childhood experience.

On Sunday morning in my quiet time I said, "Okay, Lord, where did this idea that no matter what I say I'm going to be opposed come from"

I immediately thought of an incident with my younger sister. We were out playing or working and I did something that upset her. I don't remember what it was but I remember her response. "I'm going to call the sheriff on you," she screamed, "because you are the guilty victim."

Ah yes, I thought, my little sister was feeling powerless and she wanted to get the sheriff on her side to to overpower me.

Since I've been a pastor and leader for most of my adult life I've often had people "yell" at me because I have so much power and they feel they have so little that they need to "yell" to be heard.

Then I end up feeling like the "guilty victim." I feel guilty because the person was hurt or frightened by my leadership. When I have wronged a person in my pastoral role, it actually makes it easier because I can apologize and take responsibility.

But I feel like a guilty victim when I offer my best as a leader and someone feels threatened and in fear of being overpowered "yells" at me and looks for a "sheriff" to overpower me.

Okay, Jesus, you must have a better way of seeing the situation with my sister and similar situations.

Immediately I sensed Jesus says, "Richard, you are an innocent equal and you should lay down your life for others."

That's given me something to ponder for several days.