by: Staci Stallings
One of the things I am learning as I read and dig into life is the concept of how Satan works and what we can do to be proactive in meeting and defeating him and his schemes.
Today I want to talk about power struggles, how they work, how they trigger, why they make us crazy, why they push our buttons, and maybe how to reset our defaults so we can remain calm in the midst of them.
The first thing I want to tackle is the last thing on that list… remaining calm. Here is what you DON’T want to get sucked into in a power struggle. You don’t want to be relying on your own willpower to keep you calm. That might work with a small issue, but the issues will get bigger, and your willpower to stay calm will not meet the test.
To stay calm in a power struggle, you must know three things:
1) God’s got a Plan
2) He is on your side
3) Breathe and follow the steps He’s asking you to take.
Now, we as Christians are really good at giving lip service to #1. God’s got a Plan. And we’re really good at telling each OTHER that. The problem is when problems and struggles show up, we often default to: how am I going to fix this? I don’t know what to do? We ask others what they would do, stew and worry and fret and plan.
All of these will lead you into trying to handle it on your own, which will not work.
God’s got a Plan. Make that default #1 in a power struggle.
God is on your side. God really does want this to work out well for everyone involved. That means you. It also means the other person.
Usually we tend to see things two ways; it working out and it not working out. We often fail to see that it might “work out” but in a different way than we are hoping or even praying for. That way is God’s way. So as you’re working on Step #2, pray for God’s way to show up.
And #3… breathe. The simple act of breathing centers you and calms you so that you can think clearly. Then follow the steps God is asking you to take.
Now, let’s look at the emotional trigger of a power struggle and how our normal defaults make things worse instead of better.
Power Struggle 1 — You are the most powerful
This might be a parent/child power struggle, or a boss/employee where you are the boss.
Many times this kind of power struggle comes on quickly and forces our hand in the power balance. So the child suddenly wants (or has done) something that is against the rules. Or the worker does something that is not allowed at the company (admittedly, there are degrees of these things, so read accordingly).
When we are the “top dog” and our power is threatened, often we default to “I’m the most powerful…” “Because I said so…” ”You will do as I say…”
The problem with all of these is they are the way Satan handles problems. Satan has no room for anyone else’s opinions or view points. He cares only for himself and if someone gets in his way, destroying them is within the options.
Are you like that?
If your child comes, can you talk things through? Are you reasonable, or do you fly off the handle and put them down? Do you call names or even hit to get your point across?
Do you feel justified in doing so because your power was threatened?
Do you take the time to see where the other person is coming from, and if necessary share your viewpoint calmly so they aren’t left guessing why you made the decision you did?
Yes, sometimes, you have to make an unpopular decision and stick to it. That’s not a bad thing, but if you are lording it over someone because you can… now, we have a problem.
Power Struggle #2 — Where you are in the weaker position
Maybe you are the employee to a harsh boss, or maybe a parent has left you discarded and shredded because they had to “win” in the relationship. (Spouses can also fall into this trap.)
The helpful default is, again, going to God and letting Him walk you through the issue.
Defaults that are not helpful include: pouting, getting angry but never doing anything proactive to change the situation, complaining but never doing anything, taking inappropriate action, or perpetually being the victim.
You are not a victim. God did not create you to be a victim. Yes, that’s going to mean standing up to the person with more power, but please remember, this person is not more powerful than God. God can and will do things on your behalf to either balance the power equation or remove you from the situation.
I have a very good friend who when we first met was “into” some things (work issues) that were less than uplifting. I told her at the time that “you will be at the level you are at, but when you move to a different level of understanding, those things that do not support you will drop away.” That’s another way of saying, “God will move you when it’s the right time for you to move.”
Trust Him. He knows when to move and when to stay. He knows when by your presence you are helping the other person reach a new level and when the situation is or can teach you something you really need to learn.
One of the things (and I may have already talked about this) that I have learned came from the movie, “God’s Not Dead.” In the movie, the professor (who is the metaphor for Satan much of the movie) is talking with Josh, the kid who is going to defend God. They are determining who will decide if Josh successfully defended God. When Josh suggests that the class should decide, the professor looks at the class dismissively and says, “Why would I want to empower them?”
That’s what Satan says, “Why would I want to empower (insert your name)?” He doesn’t. He wants you weak and helpless, a slave to your emotions and defaults. Don’t give him that power. Give that power to God and watch things change.
So if you’re “on top” of the power struggle, remember that God’s way is a relationship in which everyone wins. If you’re not playing by that standard, you’re not representing God.
If you’re on the “bottom” of the power struggle, remember that God does want you empowered. Let Him help you learn to take those steps to get you there!