"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. Phrases.org
Although there is a strong correlation between power and corruption, I think it's a mistake to point to the possession of power as the cause. Power doesn't do the corrupting. Rather, the possession of power removes constraints, allowing man's nature to come to the fore.
This nature is shared by believer and unbeliever alike. Notice the Apostle Paul's description of the human condition.
"For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it" (Romans 7:18-20).
POWER LEADERS.................GRACE LEADERS …
Feed on the spotlight..........Share the spotlight with others
Are the focal point of the ministry.........Make Jesus the focal point
Don’t develop other leaders..........Develop many leaders
Promote their own agenda...........Promote Christ’s agenda
Feed on being in charge............Committed to being a servant
Leave people feeling hurt and abused..........Leave people feeling encouraged and built up
Refer to their title frequently.............May have a title but seldom refer to it
Masters of manipulation..............Respect people’s freedom to think, act, respond
Use power images to flaunt authority...........Use grace images to elevate all
Pull rank to get their way..............Don’t use their authority to get “their” way
Recruit many followers to their cause................Recruit followers to the Lord’s cause
It's not just personal pride that motivates someone to become a power leader. The truth is, people are often more quickly moved to action by manipulation than they are by grace. As a result, power leaders are often more effective at getting things done than their grace counterparts. Which raises the question, why would anyone choose to be a grace leader? The answers is that there is something more important to the grace leader than the outward appearance of success. That something is the reward of knowing that they have conducted themselves and their ministry in a manner that empowers others to be motivated by grace and pleases and glorifies Christ.
"Do not lord it over the people entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).
"Gollum, what a great name. Just from the sound of it, you can tell it is attached to a ne'er do well.
Gollum is the slimiest character in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you are a true-blue fan of the books, you know that originally this character was a Hobbit named Smeagol. But his obsession with possessing the ring deformed him into Gollum, a name he got after his habit of making "a horrible swallowing noise in his throat."
According to a collecton of literary authorities quoted on wikipedia, Smeagol still remembered things like friendship and love, though vaguely. He was a slave to the ring which seduced him with treachery and violence. As Aragorn states: "His malice gives him strength hardly to be imagined."
We live in a world of Gollum like politicians. Many start off like Smeagol, but after possessing even a small amount of power they are quickly reduced to remembering friendship and love only vaguely. The possession of power, without a godly sense of its true purpose, is likely to overwhelm the best intentioned among us, transforming us into monsters. To wield it properly it must be possessed with great meekness.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).