What happens when power is seen as inherently suspect and even evil? What happens when power in the church is viewed as bad? What are the implications for the church when its leaders eschew power and influence and consider them qualities or capacities to be avoided?
This past summer I taught a course at a seminary in Canada. Forty people showed up for “Pastoral Leadership for Congregational Transformation.” Most were pastors of the United Church of Canada, with a little leaven from other church bodies, including Anglican and Lutheran.
Early in the week I asked participants to complete an exercise that explores motivation. Why do we do what we do? What “gets our engines going”? What activities give us the greatest satisfaction? As they answered these questions, people found themselves in one of three groups. They learned that their prime motivator was one of three factors: affiliation, achievement, or power and influence.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).