Power – and the Measure of a Man

powerHow to measure power

There are many ways to measure someone or something. We can use weight, length, breadth, and height. We can also measure by evaluating character. The potential of the effect of a person is not in the power he has, but in what he does with that power. In that, we learn the true character of a person. We learn about integrity, fairness, gentleness, compassion, and mercy. We also learn about strength under pressure and what one is truly like when no one is around.

Plato and Paul

Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Plato lived. He was a student of Socrates and a teacher of Aristotle. , Plato said this:

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

An apostle of Jesus, Paul showed us how true this is. In his missionary journey to Iconium and Lystra, Paul healed a man who was lame. You can read the story here. The man, lame from birth, stood and walked at Paul’s command. The crowds were enthralled and declared Paul and Barnabas were gods. They named Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes.

The priest of Zeus wanted to offer sacrifices – a way of worshipping these “gods”. What a moment when Paul could receive pomp, worship, and adoration! He and Barnabas were astounded. They tried to explain to the people that they were mere mortal men, just like them.

“We came to bring good news,” they told the crowd. “We want you to know that you can turn from this lifestyle and worship the true God!”

Scripture says that “ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.” What God and Paul intended for good became twisted for the people because they did not recognize the power of God. The people wanted to worship Paul, instead of the One who gave him the power to heal the lame man.

Paul, a man who previously enjoyed prestige and authority when he was given permission to persecute Christians, now recognized there is only one true Power – Jesus Christ.  He had the opportunity to use that adoration to promote himself. He didn’t.

powerThe use of power

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) was an orator, a political leader, and an attorney. He said this about power:

Nothing discloses real character like the use of power. It is easy for the weak to be gentle. Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power. This is the supreme test. 

History repeats itself. Leaders of the past showed us how true this is. Leaders of today continue to show us how true this is.

When you are a true leader, you give credit for your abilities to God instead of claiming them as your own. A true leader uses the power he has to empower the people, not to stifle them. A real leader recognizes the power he has and leads by example. He doesn’t drive his people, he leads them.

When you want to know what is in a person, give him power. That’s the test of what is in a man (or a woman).  Paul, the apostle, was one of the most persecuted followers of Christ. He continued to use the power given to him by God, but he did not abuse that power. He kept directing people to God instead of to himself. That’s a true leader.



Photo credits: Pixabay.com.

Photo of wave: Roger Mosley with Pixabay.





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