We laugh at corporate politics, throw our hands up about national politics, but the politics we find hardest to navigate are those between family members: parental authority, sibling rivalry, and especially the marital relationship. After all, you can always find a new job and even the presidential administration has to change over at least once every eight years, but family is supposed to be forever.
That’s why no man wants to be stuck with the wife who wears the pants (unless they’re yoga pants, and she’s hot), and no woman wants to be stuck with the husband who wants her barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (unless it’s a really, really nice kitchen, with a professional chef). And neither of them should want that, because it’s not healthy. It’s not right. It’s not what God originally intended.
Of course, we left the land of “What God Originally Intended” way back when we left the garden, but that doesn’t mean we have to maintain hyper vigilance over all of our relationships, defending our own independence while we control others. The secret lies in remembering who you work for.
So let’s go to the Bible for encouragement, specifically from the psalmist, David, someone who knew about power plays at work, in politics and in the bedroom.
David wasn’t merely taken for granted by his employer. King Saul, tried to take him out. At least twice. (And I don’t mean on a date.) Then, after David was tapped to be the next king, he first had to live on the run, until his predecessor received his severance package. Finally, after securing the throne, David couldn’t even get respect from his own wife. She didn’t like the way he danced.
But look what he says in Psalm 8:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
– Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV)
In spite of all the times when David seemed powerless, he remembers that…
God created the universe and is in complete control.
He’s the boss and we can rest in what He has “set in place.” (Again, if you struggle with resting in this reality, I encourage you to go back and read David’s whole story. It begins in 1 Samuel 16. Regardless of what power struggle you’re a part of, David can relate.)
Then, as David considers how small we are in comparison to the heavens, he stands in awe that such a Creator not only thinks of us, but actually cares for us. (Incidentally, that hearkens back to our first two intimacy impostors of attention and acceptance.)
But granting us attention and acceptance apparently wasn’t enough for God. We have been given authority over God’s creation. We have been given influence.
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
– Psalm 8:5-8 (ESV)
David’s reference to animals could come across dated, since the only animals most of us ever exercise dominion over are dogs and cats. (Well, no one really exercises dominion over cats, so that just leaves dogs.)
Or perhaps it comes across as an environmental calling, but I think it’s more foundational than that. Instead of looking forward to modern environmentalism, David looks back to the beginning. He reminds us that…
The purpose of man and woman is to make a difference in this world by caring for it and creating within it, all for HIS glory!
In David’s time, that happened predominately within agrarian communities and dealt more with crops and livestock, but in our time it happens in the cities and suburbs and deals more with computers and cell phones. And conference room politics.
David reminds us our God doesn’t merely allow us to exercise influence in this world. He has called us to do so. Courageously. Wisely. And resolutely. And I believe this perspective can set us free from power grabbing, opening us up to exercise the influence He’s given us in a way that doesn’t inhibit our flourishing in community. Indeed, it holds the potential to enhance our relationships, building trust, understanding and intimacy.
You see, as long as I believe my influence in this world is bestowed by man (parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, spouse) I will feel the need to fight and manipulate the people in my life.
But if I can believe those people were placed there by a sovereign God who wants to touch them through me, threats and guilt trips need not apply.
God has given you a sphere of influence. It’s probably smaller than Jennifer Lawrence’s, but then we’ve been recently reminded of the weight of such a sphere of influence. So join me in submitting to our limited influence, believing it has been ordained by the God we can trust instead of “the man” we may not.
This is post is part of a larger series called Relation^ology (it begins with this post) where we identify the greatest relational need of our heart and then ID the counterfeits we seek out or settle for instead.