“Attaining Contentment: The Gift That Keeps on Giving”, Part 5c
For the past six Training Table gatherings, we have been dining the subject of CONTENTMENT—based upon “The Rare Jewel of Contentment”, by Jeremiah Burroughs. If you would care to, please review the previous segments in the Training Table Archives.
The next several servings will be small yet meaty portions to help all those gathered chew on various ways to consider the vital (RE: life giving) idea of, “Attaining Contentment: The Gift That Keeps on Giving”.
The Heart of Great and Enduring LEADERSHIP, Is About a Heart of CONTENTMENT
There’s more information about leadership in the market today than at any point in history. Why? Because of it’s enduring importance, and it’s widespread impotence.
The reason for the first (importance) is obvious. The reason for the second (impotence) is complicated.
For the purposes of this Training Table en route on the marathon of “running the good race” (1 Corinthians 9:26; 2 Timothy 4:7), I want to offer a simple yet very rich truism that we can all dig into, be more aware of, and committed to having a positive impact on:
Leadership should always be measured on the basis of the fruits of, a) “THE WILL TO POWER”, or b) “EMPOWERMENT AT WILL”.
At the heart of—and on one end of the extreme—The Will to Power (Friedrich Nietzsche, “the death of God” philosophy, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, etc) is a form of vacuous discontentedness that is anti-theistic, nihilistic, and humanistic. For ease of use and universal (almost) agreement, let’s put the likes of Hitler on this end of the continuum—Satan, the anti-Christ, being on the most extreme end (1 John 2).
At the heart of—and on the other end of the extreme—Empowerment At Will is a form of life-giving contentedness that is a reflection of the love and truth of the God of the Bible, based upon the assurance of salvation and gratitude for Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice, and faith-works in using one’s time, talent, and treasure to help redeem and empower the world. For ease of use and universal (almost) agreement, let’s use the person of Jesus Christ on the other end of the continuum.
All leaders are somewhere on the “THE WILL TO POWER” and “EMPOWERMENT AT WILL” continuum: It all depends on the nature of the heart of any leader.
“The Will to Power”, as Nietzsche so ingeniously yet agonizingly articulated it to explain human behavior, is based on the premise that if God is dead (literally OR practically) there is no other motivation for life except for that of establishing and amassing power.
Nietzsche’s gift of “The Superman” given to mankind was his solution to an unwitting and godless race (“Thus Spoke Zarathustra”). However, “godless does as godless is” and Nietzsche’s provision offered nothing more than a literary aspiration of the same godless worldview and despair.
Neither can discontentedness, nor its fruit of the will to power, be uprooted by its own branches.
Please pause and reflect upon the above statement for just a moment… “if God is dead (literally OR practically… don’t miss the distinction…) there is no other motivation for life except for that of establishing and amassing power.”
Whether by nations or by infants, the paradigm is the same.
To the degree that any leader is discontented with God and/or self, that leader will not only be all about establishing and amassing power; moreover, he or she will be incapable of EMPOWERING AT WILL!
This is very bad, and not leadership at all—compare Romans 1:18-23 with Philippians 2:1-4
“Empowering Others At Will”
Leaders who are, in their heart of hearts, convinced by the promises of God about their own “beginnings, middles, and ends”—E.g., deeply contended by God and about the whole of their life, in good times and bad—are naturally (willfully) predisposed to empowering others to be ALL they have been invited to be (the invitation can be declined, Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10):
Fallen yet Redeemed Image Bearers, Saved, Sent, Empowered, and Gifted to Help Transform the World and Influence Eternity.
This is not an insiginificant identity, motivation, and empowerment!
Do we understand the measure of this vision of humankind that leaders are meant to empower? Do we see ourselves as leaders of this sort? Are we humble enough to see how our own discontentedness is affecting (draining power) those in our midst? It must begin as Nietzsche did:
By recalibrating what is means to be a human being—and then either SUCKING THE POWER FROM, or GIVING THE POWER TO… The difference is as stark as the difference between the anti-Christ and Jesus Christ.
Contented leaders intentionally, strategically, and generously empower others because there is no substantive, long-lasting power to be gained that has not been given them by God… in Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. They are content with the power that created, redeemed, and is sustaining the entire seen and unseen universe: The Trinity Re-Born Within Their Heart. The fruit of this contentedness is all about GIVING, not GETTING.
In the most principled and practical way I can offer, when I stated, “Leadership should always be measured on the basis of the fruits of, a) “The Will To Power”, or b) “Empowerment At Will”…
PLEASE put your best HEART (Truth discerning) and SPIRIT (emotional resonance) hearing ears on whenever you’re exposed the worldviews, principles, words, sermons, plans, promises, rhetoric, politicing, etc of LEADERSHIP of any kind:
He or she is either EMPOWERING AT WILL (helping free humankind to be and do what they are redeemed to do) or exerting their WILL TO POWER (helping keep humankind in bondage by establishing and amassing their own power in some way, shape, or form). There is no grey of being in-between.
All leaders can be found somewhere on the continuum. The hope we have as leaders (Christian leaders, in particular) is that we’re moving ever-closer to Jesus… and not in the opposite direction.
Please note: Our own level of contentedness cannot be evaluated by us alone: We must have loving and truthful friends who know our hearts and can hold us accountable as we move along “the continuum of Christian contentedness”.
Finally, allow me to make a challenging and polarizing assertion, discontented people “elect” (tolerate, choose, promote, celebrate) and empower discontented leaders—and their limitless appetite for establishing and amassing power: “Will to Power leaders” encourage “the electorate” to gorge on their own discontentedness—and thereby fuel the establishing and amassing of power.
This occurs incrementally, nearly invisibly, over time. It’s a cycle that’s nearly impossible to break: Misery loves company, and the more company, the better! It’s deadly…
My personal opinion is that we are, as a nation, at the crossroads of THE WILL TO POWER and EMPOWERMENT AT WILL. We were, at one point in time, a God-fearing people enamored and motivated by the rare jewel of Christian contentment, but we are today the most blessed AND the most discontented people on the planet.
This impossible-to-maintain “cultural ambivalence” will eventually fold in upon itself.
May God’s mercy include His very soon, and very obvious empowering of us to embrace “the Gospel continuum” as a people once again: “By it we mean that we are simultaneously far more sinful than we ever dared imagine, and yet far more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope for” (Jack Miller).
May God richly bless your running the good race “TODAY…” (Psalm 95:7-8),