Power is a dirty word
Adrian Bell, minister of Fakenham Parish Church explains why he hates the word 'power' and the dangers it can bring.
One of the words that I hate being uttered by politicians, industrialists or even clergy, is the word, ‘Power’.
‘Power’ to me represents all that is wrong with present day society, but those who are in power dominate those who are not, and those having power often make those around them powerless.
Old fashioned as I am I do believe that one is called to public life as a politician or even as a priest to serve those around you and not to have power. Having recently sat next to a local clergy wife at a clergy party I was told that her husband now had more power in his new job than before. How very sad.
As the Queen visited Australia we saw a very admired person throughout the world being greeted by thousands of Australians. But does she have that much power. As we saw the Queen being crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953 and next year will see her diamond Jubilee of her accession, one would think that she has immense power. In reality the Queen has less power than any of her predecessors but she is probably one of the most influential leaders in the world, and long may it remain so.
When one looks at the life of Jesus you see a person who could call upon the immense power that he had, but refused to use it to save himself because he knew that by being the humble servant arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey that he would have far more influence on people than in using his own power.
For the church to survive in this century it must be seen within its community as serving the people and using any power it has not to dominate or frighten those around, which happened in days past, but to help the community to love God through the care that the servants of God (the clergy and lay people ) provide.
When I came to Fakenham the Bishop of Norwich said to me that I was now in his castle, and this was not said because he was powerful or would keep me a prisoner, but because he would care for Marian and I, and our family, and this he has done so. The church is at its best when it is a listening, caring, supporting and also forgiving castle where people can find refuge. I have received this, and try to show this to others. The church is at its worst when it is lecturing, over powering, uncaring and unforgiving.
So please I don’t want to hear the word ‘Power’ again – if you are striving for power as an ordinand or a newly ordained priest, or a newly elected churchwarden, then frankly may be the church is not for you.
Pictured right: Adrian Bell