Serving is Quiet Power
In my new book Compassionaries: Unleash the Power of Serving which, will come out next March, I make the argument that serving others is powerful. Honestly, that is a concept I had not realized until I began writing, but I became so convinced of it that it became the focus of the book.
Most people do not see serving others as powerful. They value serving and advocate for it but would never describe it as powerful. I understand power as the ability to make things happen. But that ability does not have to be loud or conspicuous; it can be subtle, under the radar, or even counterintuitive. In this blog I want to drill down on the idea that serving is quiet power.
The culture does not appreciate quiet power.
This is the problem with any power that is not overwhelming or impressive. The advent of computers, the internet, and cell phones has brainwashed us to expect quick, easy answers to all our questions and problems. When you can punch in a few numbers and talk to someone on the other side of the world, or Google a question and get more than a million sources of answers, it’s no wonder this is an age of instant gratification. Anything that takes too long is of less value or no value at all. To the most ardent proponents of instant gratification quiet power is a contradiction in terms! Interesting note: when I typed this blog, my grammar checker highlighted “quiet” as a mistake as an adjective of power; it wanted me to use “quite.” That’s how strange it sounds to say power can be quiet.
The culture glorifies loud power. Go to a college football game and you will be told time and again to “Get Loud!” Big decisions that affect the entire nation are the stuff of loud power, e.g. laws by Congress or rulings by the Supreme Court. Financial power and those who wield it are the stars of the culture, e.g. Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos. Quiet power gets no press. It goes unnoticed, unappreciated and we have to get past that fact to see serving as powerful.
Quiet power is all around us.
When I Googled “quiet power,” a book by that title popped up. (I especially like the subtitle: The secret strength of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking.) Apparently, it is a book about the power of introverts—another new concept for me. The author makes a case for the power of quiet people. As I think about it, I agree. Some of the most influential people in my life have been the quiet type.
Nature provides examples of quiet power. I found this quote: “A river cuts through rock not because of its power but because of its persistence.” How true! Here’s another one: “A seed grows with no sound, but a tree falls with a huge noise. Destruction has noise, but creation is quiet.” I wish I had said that—so simple but profound. The fact is we have relied on quiet power since the beginning of time. Think the sun, gravity, heat, the wind. Creation proclaims the reality, the reliability, the powerfulness of quiet power. One more quote: “Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.” Take that culture! Not only is quiet power a thing; it is a far better thing than loud, destructive power.
Jesus practiced quiet power.
I am guessing when most people think of Jesus as a powerful person, they remember his miracles, his power over disease and death, over nature. But the fact is Jesus practiced quiet power as much or more than “loud” power. Wouldn’t you agree that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most powerful talks ever given? And the power of his parables is indisputable. Except for the raising of Lazarus (when he literally yelled for Lazarus to come out of the grave), his miracles were done in a quiet way—a gentle touch, a softly spoken word, a look that only the most observant would notice.
The most powerful words Jesus ever spoke came from the cross—the most conspicuous display of weakness as the world sees it. The entire scene at Calvary was an unforgettable picture of quiet power. I can take it another step. Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate picture of serving as quiet power.
Do you need any more to convince you that quiet power is the way to go? Lord knows, we have too much loud power as it is. We need the quiet power of serving to change the world. I, for one, am convinced it is the only way healthy change will come.
For those of us who are Jesus followers, we can follow his example in practicing quiet power. It may not be particularly impressive to our friends, but it works. It is unlikely to garner headlines for us, but serving others is the most constructive, healthy, happy way to bring hope and healing to a broken world. I have said it many, many times and I say it again: We are never more like Jesus than when we serve others.
What do you think?
Have you ever thought of power as quiet? Can you think of people you know who are quiet powerful people? Do you agree or not that serving is quiet power?