“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; ….does not seek its own, is not provoked,” I Corinthians 13:4,5
One need only listen to the news for a short time to find many examples of power struggles in Washington, D.C. Not only do we see them in Washington, we also see them in churches, schools, places of employment, and, yes, even our homes!
What causes power struggles? What is the result of those struggles and what can we do to prevent them?
Power struggles occur when we become more concerned about who is right than what is right. Basically, it is loving self more than others and a desire to prove self worth. Thinking more of self than others is selfishness. Another cause is simply being ignorant of or ignoring the basis for making decisions. For a Christian, the Bible should always be the basis for deciding right and wrong—not a person. For our country, it is the constitution, but many in our country want to do away with the Constitution. When we do away with the Constitution and Bible, the foundation for decision-making is gone and each person is left with his/her own opinion. Someone has said that the Bible is like a piece of familiar furniture that we use in the dark at night to determine our location. The Constitution is based on the Bible. Without them, each person is left stumbling around in the dark!
When the Bible tells us that love “does not seek its own”, perhaps it is saying that we don’t have to always have our own way. When one side wins, the other side loses. It is not easy to lose. Often a loser harbors resentment and waits for an opportunity to “get even”. This feeling is compounded when the winner “rubs it in”. We may win the battle, but lose the war when we insist on having our own way.
When a parent says, “You do it because I said so!” that parent is exerting power over a child. A small child has to obey. Size alone proves that the adult is more powerful. However, the child may be harboring resentment while obeying. The adult often feels like duty in child-rearing is fulfilled by making the child obey. Wouldn’t we rather have the child want to do the right thing for life rather than just obeying one time? If we can convince the child to want to do the right thing, then we have truly taught the child and prevented the resentment. Of course, there may be times when we don’t have time to do the convincing, but it is certainly preferable if we are able to do so.
Common goals foster teamwork. Working with children requires time. If we are to raise children who love others and know God’s love, we need to avoid power struggles and foster togetherness. Children need to feel that parents and teachers are on their side. This does not mean letting children get by with wrong. It does mean, however, helping them understand reasons for acceptable behavior.