Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"...Just a Very Bad Wizard": Musings on Power

My kids and i have been discussing an issue lately that has consumed a lot of our thought and attention.  We have talked about Power, where it comes from, what it is, what happens when we seek it for its own sake, what it appears to do to people, who handles it well and who does not.  It has been a really great ongoing discussion, and in the process, i have had a recurrent image pop into my head about why we are so often disappointed in the people we place in positions of Power, whether they are in the realms of government, business, society or even the church.    

If you've seen The Wizard of OZ, you no doubt recall the moment when Dorothy and her intrepid band discover that "The Wizard" is really just a little man pulling levers behind a curtain.  "The Great and Powerful Oz" is a sham; a little man bent on trying to hold up the image of something that he is not.  In her fury, Dorothy exclaims, "Oh!  Oh, you're a very bad man!", but then the Wizard, hurt spreading across his features, remarks, "Oh!  Oh no, my dear!  I'm a very good man… i'm just a very bad Wizard."

At the heart of our hunger for a truly Great and Powerful Wizard, we long for someone to make the world right.  Someone who can give us our Brains and our Courage and our Heart and our Home.  We know that the world is not what it should be, and we want it to be, so we place people we trust or fear or believe can do the job into the seat of Power and ask them to lead us where we desire to go.  When they cannot or do not or will not and consistently fail us, either due to their own weakness or our demands set too high, we stamp our feet and are continually amazed that they cannot pull levers fast enough or speak loudly enough into the speaker and we throw them into the light and demand an accounting for why they have not been the Wizard we always wanted.  

We do this because we think that if we heap upon a physical man or woman all our hopes and expectations for someone to make things right, they will be able to do so through science and technology or political maneuvering or spiritual wisdom or social programs or conservative budgets or unlimited financial affluence or business acumen to give us what we lack, whether that is Courage or Brains or a Heart or a Home.  But we're always disappointed because in most instances, those we place in positions of Power are, in fact, just very good men (and women)… But they're just very bad Wizards because no human being can be those things.  The expectations aren't realistic.  No matter how badly i want it… 
… The President (or any member of government) cannot save us,
… The CEO of Apple (or any other company) cannot save us,
… Tom Cruise (or any other Rock or Movie star) cannot save us,
… Our parents cannot save us,
… Our friends cannot save us,
… Our pastors or imams or rabbis or priests cannot save us, 
… You cannot save us,
… I cannot save us.

It may sound audacious or trite or even stupid in our current complexity to say it, but there is only one person who can save us.  He is the one who will not merely pull levers or give us emerald colored glasses and try to convince us that everything we see is really that green (if you've read L Frank Baum's book and not seen the movie), and he will not disappoint us when we truly trust in him.  There is only one person who both invites us into an audacious hope to believe that a world of color and vivacity that would make Oz seem like a black and white landscape is truly possible and has also given us samples and glimpses of its quality.  We might even say that there is a path that leads to him too, but it is probably not paved with gold bricks and munchkins singing of Lullaby Leagues and Lollipop Guilds.  Rather, the road is narrow and is paved with blood and sacrifice and love and compassion and simplicity and a tenacity to walk into environments that will demand everything from us if we will follow behind him, but give our lives the kind of peace and meaning we crave if we do so.  There is only one real Wizard,  my friends.  His name is Jesus, not Oz, and there is no substitute for Him.  

The removal of the "Wizard" mentality described above is at the heart of "From Formal to Fractal Leadership" in Missional Moves.  In it, Rob and I have learned that in the Jesus Way, everyone leads, everyone follows, and all surrender to the only real Power in the world:  the Lordship of Jesus. 

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