The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb


Our primary focus as followers of Christ is not to unearth toxic or abusive power in others, but to recognize our own temptations and predilections for such power. Before we “speak truth to power,” we must speak the truth regarding our own pull to the way from below. Discerning how we have embraced the way of the dragon will help us see how our immediate community has done so as well. Before we name the toxic power in leaders “over there” or even the leaders in our midst, we must name our own failures—and our community’s failures—regarding power. Having a prophetic voice requires first praying, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). If we want to become the kind of people who can identify and name the way from below in pastors or ministry leaders, we must first see it and name it in ourselves.

It may seem like an odd notion that seeing and naming sin—speaking prophetically to power—requires that we see it and name it in ourselves first. But this is why Jesus calls us to first take the log out of our own eye so that we can see clearly to make judgments about others (Matt. 7:3–5). Most fail on one side of this equation, either naming sin in others and ignoring their own or, perhaps because they are so overwhelmed by their sin, they struggle to name it in the world around them. We need discernment and communities that cultivate both—where we can name sin and temptation and seek kingdom power rather than worldly power—and therefore judge with the eyes of faith. When evil power thrives in the church, it is more than just the leaders who are at fault, even if they will be judged more harshly. It is the call of the Christian community to be diligent to name the evils that are always seeking to penetrate our churches. This is why toxic power should never be able to take hold among the people of God, and it is our failure in this area that helps explain why so many churches are saturated with it.


Father, please help me to see and name sin in myself before trying to find it in others. Please open my eyes and help me to be honest about my own quest for power. Amen.