Break the Power of Pride
By Stacie Ruth Stoelting
My cat, Oliver, proves that power intoxicates: As a tiny kitty, he hitched a ride in the engine of our car. His feline frame was frail. When you rubbed his bony back, its ridges felt like a washboard’s. The vet wondered if he would make it.
Oliver’s face, gaunt from starvation, peered into mine with soulful, enormous, emerald eyes. His expressions seemed to communicate: “Save me, please!”
Well, we did.
Soon, he met our older cat, Miss Boo. (Miss Boo adds “sophisticat” to the dictionary.)
She snubbed the little runt: she repeatedly hissed into Oliver’s face.
Oliver grew. He grew into a tiger cat with a white face and little brown mustache. He ballooned into a big cat -- bigger than Miss Boo. He felt the power.
Maybe Amy Grant’s hit The Power played in his head. Here’s the chorus:
The power touches me
The power helps us see
The power holds my hand
The power drives me crazy
Once the light bulb lit up in his head, Oliver discovered that he could run the household. He bullied. Miss Boo scurried.
Whenever Miss Boo heard Oliver’s collar bell ring, her eyes dilated. She darted and hid. Whenever she saw him wake up, she perked up and nervously shuddered.
Power shifted. Oliver aggressed. He became intoxicated with power.
Power can be a “Faith Stealer” by intoxicating us. But it’s ironic: often power weakens us.
We can be like Oliver. We can experience success; enter the “in crowd” at school, receive a promotion, bask in a spotlight, and then gain resulting confidence. Suddenly, we feel proud. We forget God, from whom our success comes. Without even realizing it, we ignore hurting people when we need others to meet our own needs. (It’s easy to ignore a needy, hurting person at an event where there is someone famous in attendance. Did I hear an “amen”?)
In Washington, D.C., people shimmer with the artificial light of charisma. They represent states, firms, companies, and countries. Capitol Hill seems to host a constant parade of egos clothed in fancy suits, dresses, tuxedos, and other clothes. Some up- and-comers talk with a confident voice tone, shake hands firmly, and feed off of powerful people in a somewhat symbiotic relationship until the cycle repeats itself upon the next promotion. Often, people stroke the egos of bosses to promote them to a higher level of success. (Of course, there are people in D.C. who are not at all like what I described. There are amazingly humble, admirable leaders and citizens for whom I thank God!)
As you walk on the streets of D.C., people forge their ways with fast-paced, powerful steps. People barely avoid colliding with each other because each person wants others to clear the way for him/her. It can be a rather intimidating city full of walking, power-seeking suits.
That is why God wants us to realize this:
“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God's own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].” (Col. 3:12, AMP)
God makes it pretty clear: As God’s chosen representatives, we need to clothe ourselves spiritually - on purpose. He wants us to be tenderhearted, not tough hearted, and to possess a lowly opinion of ourselves, not super-sized self-esteem. (Quite a change from what we learn in school, huh?) This attitude counters our culture.
But, again, there are also great, godly people in Washington, D.C. who know how to handle power and success. They realize that power and success are God-given tools with which they can spread the news of Jesus and be His tool tools to help millions of people.
Yes, power and success are simply God-given tools.
If you use a hammer to build a crate, the hammer does a great job. It makes the job a lot easier than if you tried to pound in nails with a drinking straw! But if you try to use a hammer for another purpose such as applying make-up (imagine pounding powder onto your face!), it hurts. That’s what happens with people and power.
“Power Intoxication” is sneaky: You think you’re avoiding it. You think you’re no longer prejudice. You feel you’re no longer showing favoritism. Well, we need to be extremely careful. Here’s a warning from the Lord: “Whoever exalts himself [ with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.” (Matthew 23:12, AMP)
That’s usually when the devil attacks us: We think we’re superior to the spiritual struggle of showing favoritism. That means we’re proud. Watch out. (The warning is for me, too. I’m reminding myself of these things when I’m sharing them with you.)
If God showed favoritism to wealthy, famous, and beautiful people, I’d have no chance. That’s why, I really love this fact: “…God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11, NLV)
That means that God offers us everything that He offers to everyone: endless blessings and close, loving relationships as His beloved kids. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Now, if only I could bring Oliver’s pride to a healthy level…
Editors Note: This article is part one of a two-part series.
Note from the Author:
Connected! isn’t a typical monthly column. Think of it as an e-mail. Feel free to reply. Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org. After all, I want to be a friend and introduce you to my Best Friend, Jesus Christ. We’ll cover issues relevant to our generation. Most of all, we’ll connect with Christ. If you don’t know how to connect with Him yet, click here.
Stacie Ruth Stoelting and Bright Light Ministry share how to have victory over tragedies and trials. At 22, she already has experience: At 15, Stacie Ruth wrote Still Holding Hands: Bonus Tips for Caregivers & Tips for Helping Families Facing Alzheimer’s, depicting her grandparents’ romance, and victory over Alzheimer’s. Celebrities (i.e. Pat Robertson) endorsed it and/or Bright Light Ministry. At 20, she sang for President Bush. In dramatic programs for all ages, she speaks, acts, sings and entertainingly inspires. Now, she is writing books for teens (e.g. Catching Faith Stealers in the Act). Visit www.brightlightministry.com.
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