Mindfulness and Power


In an isolated system, according to the second law of thermodynamics, entropy always increases. That is, the energy contained in that system becomes increasingly less available to do useful work. When power is contained within a system, entropy always occurs, and usually to disastrous effect. For example, if a room is not tidied or cleaned, it will become increasingly messy unless an outside force (effort) is made to clean it. If no energy crosses back into the boundary of the system, there will be entropy. Increasingly. Forever. Think: 2008 stock market crash.

In a similar way, energy is neither created nor lost. Consider Newton’s conservation principles that describe how an object gains the momentum lost by another. The principle does not perfectly translate to human behavior, but does suggest a perspective on how we view leadership and power. When we speak of empowering others it is implied that they will be enabled to do what they were equipped to do. That is, the empowered will be equally able to do your job. If I value diversity in leadership and I am like the majority of that cohort, someone needs to step down to make space for difference. I am that someone.

When “place” in leadership is determined by anything other than proficiency or giftedness, it is based on a mindset of desire and a struggle for power. “The example of the first church and its leadership—Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, who intentionally eschew power to nurture young believers in Thessalonica (1 Thess 3:5–8)—renders such struggle irrelevant to the lived reality of Christ’s body.”

To say that you believe in the God of the Christian tradition is to understand this God as Trinity. The Act and Being of this God is more than an idea or philosophy. It is relationship. The relationship is the act and the being of this Trinitarian God. It only works because each Member yields to the Other, making space for each to move and work in life-giving power. This is the One in whose image we are made. “The indwelling Trinity that gives space to the Other is made visible in humankind when one intentionally pays attention to the other and is present without harsh judgment.” With this disposition of holy indifference—giving space to another, making room for the thoughts and feelings of the other—one becomes more than, and is more human.

God is mindful of me (Ps 8). I am created in God’s image. I am created to be mindful of you.

Breathe in the reality of God’s attention on you.

Breathe out your striving to maintain control.

Breathe in the strength of God’s rest, God’s Love.

Breathe out with the peace that accompanies acceptance of your weakness.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt 11.29)


Excerpts from, Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone


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