The Nature of Power: No One Knows How Much Power They Have


In his book Culture Making, Andy Crouch made the point that money, sex, and power represent the basic temptations and power bases of life. While the first two are measurable—you can count your money, you know when you are having sex—not so with power.

We can feel the difference in power when people call us because they need our help and when we call others because we need their help. Being interviewed for a job is a much different feeling than being the interviewer. Much of my life I have spent raising funds and have observed these differences in power. When I called someone early in our relationship or had no relationship with that person and was essentially cold calling, I was at his mercy. He had all the power. Once the relationship was established and I had built some trust, then I got my phone calls and e-mails returned, because trust and respect had developed. It's different when a person of great power asks a potential donor for funds. In that scenario, the donor feels honored and may actually compete with others to give because the donor senses that a donation will enhance his or her career, or it will be good public relations for what he or she does.

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As I gained confidence as a fundraiser, it became a great joy to interact with those who gave to our cause. I do recall, however, that on more than one occasion I became frustrated with the process. I knew a donor who wanted to sponsor an event for me. The donor paid for the event and offered to help me with a future project. I thought we had a growing and productive relationship because we had mutual interests. I called later to present the needs of another project, but he wouldn't return my call. I kept after him for a few more days and finally his assistant told me he was not interested and couldn't speak with me. I sent off a very angry letter to the donor, excoriating him for failing to show me respect. I went on to accuse him of being hypocritical because he would never treat Billy Graham the way he was treating me. I am sure I was right about that, but then again, I am not Billy Graham. I was angry that I didn't have the power I thought I had, and that made me feel humiliated. My conceit violated the theme of this chapter, and I was thinking more of myself than a humble servant of Christ would have reason to.[1] I had grown accustomed to my power, and I didn't like it when it was gone.


[1] "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves," Philippians 2:3.

This was taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

Bill Hull