The Idol of Power

Guest Author: Tiffany Mathew
Series: Idolatry Defined

RECAP: Idolatry is rampant in our hearts today whether we realize it or not. At the end of the day, idolatry is at the root of all our sin. The Bible defines idolatry as putting something that is created in a higher place of worth than the only One who is not created: God.

Matt Carter, Pastor at The Austin Stone teaches that there are four root idols to all our sins:

Power, Control, Comfort, and Approval.

These are root desires in our lives that we place in a higher position of value than God, which eventually manifests themselves into sins such as lying, pornography, drunkenness, and gossip. I would confidently state that each of us struggles with at least ONE of these four idols – or you might be like me and struggle with all four of them. Either way, we can only make steps towards healing if we first identify the idols in our life. Only after identifying the idols can we consciously replace these empty desires of our hearts with the only One who can satisfy. The Idol of Power is going to be the first idol we look at this week.

Definition: I have a Power Idol if my worth stems from my power and recognition. I define myself by how I influence and impact the people around me.

Is your greatest fear being humiliated? Do you struggle with anger when you are disrespected? Does it hurt if someone takes the credit for your work? Is being impactful the only thing that drives you?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you might have a Power Idol.

Though I studied this over three years ago, I just recently came to the realization that I struggle with this idol. Never have I sought to be the center of attention, never have I strived to have a successful job or great title, though God has blessed me with those things. Recently, however, I realized how much I am fueled by the impact I make on others. As I was counseling a friend, trying to share God’s love and promises to combat the lies of the devil week after week, I continuously failed to instill change in this friend. Week after week I would try, and week after week I would, in my eyes, fail. This crushed me. I started to spiral and ask myself what’s the point of life if I can’t even help the people around me.

That is when I realized that I define myself by how I impact the people around me. All my years of college ministry, church ministry, friendships, and service were all for myself, so that I could feel useful, so that I could be impactful.

I had a Power Idol, and I needed to repent of it.

Repentance from all sins requires confession and a transformation. I started to pray immediately that my identity would be found in God’s presence in my life and not my presence in other’s lives. I started praying that my driving force would be to see God’s name known through my actions and not my own. I started pleading with God for Him to open my eyes so that I would stop twisting the Great Commission into merely a chance for me to make an impact. Matthew 23:11-12 became my anthem. It’s easy for someone who grew up in the church to exude false humility… so I started praying that my humbleness was true, genuine, and stemmed from a desire for Jesus Christ to be exalted.

Nothing happens overnight, but if you are seeking healing from a power idol, I recommend doing a regular check of your emotions and motivating factors:

You know you are healing if you are passed over for a position of influence and you are still joyful because you know that you are important to God.

You know you are repenting from a power idol if someone else takes the credit for your hard work but you show grace in place of anger.

You serve in the name of God without seeing the fruit, but you are at peace because you know at the end of the day God’s plan will be done.

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted,” | Matthew 23:11-12

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