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Power Issues

The Power Stance – feet apart, chest out, arms at your side.

The pose is meant to inspire your own sense of confidence while giving others the idea you are powerful.

The issue goes deeper than a perception though. And in this episode, Josh and Dan take a look at the past for where the Power Issues lie.

When it comes to men and their unwanted sexual behaviors, power, or lack thereof, can point to the patterns we want to overcome.

Listen in for a better understanding of what power is all about. 

If we’re hoping to recover from an addiction, the affair, or cycles of abuse; we have to identify the power issue in our story. Let’s take a step back in order to move towards becoming the empowered the man or woman with purpose and intentionality you are meant to be.

Highlights:

Any power that Jesus wielded, he wielded for the sake of others. He used his power, recognized his power was a tool for the sake of love. That’s our goal.

We need others that are on this journey with us to give us the courage to move towards another and to speak into something to have Christ like influence or power in a situation

Jesus is the picture of someone who has power, who could use power but willingly lays it down – That’s a place we’re invited to come from.

Homework:

Gateway Questions to Understanding Power:

  • What have your experiences with power been?
  • Who had power in your life and how did they yield that power? Was it a gift to you? Was it a threat to you?
  • What is it a harm to you?
  • What kind of influence do I have over my environment?

Realms of Power:

  1. The Over-Powering Man:  misuses/abuses power
  2. The Dis-Empowered Man: has issues with exerting whatever strength, influence, voice he’s supposed to have in his world.
  3. Being Empowered Men with voice, substance, agency in the world.
Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:01
So I’m both looking forward to this conversation and kind of curious about where it’s going to go today. Dan Keefer and I were just chatting offline about a concept that we’re going to try to unpack we think will be really helpful for everybody. Maybe especially for the for the men in the room, we’re going to typically, or particularly talk to men, but women we really would love for you to listen into, because we think that there may be things that we just aren’t aware of how this impacts you, and, or how it will speak to you. And you certainly have a voice in this as well. So here’s here’s the statement I want to make from the from the outset. And Dan, I want you to respond to then we’ll kind of walk through what we wanted to talk about. As we walk with men who are wrestling with habitual, unwanted sexual behaviors as a pattern in their life they’re trying to overcome. I believe that if if men do not reckon with their issues of power, their hangups around power, then they will fail to make all the progress they need to in regards to sexual integrity in their lives. What do you make of that? Damn, where’s your brain go? As I say that?

Dan Keefer 1:12
Well, my, I guess my brain goes to impart wrestling with how we understand what power is about and, and one of the ways I think about power is about influence, like how, what kind of influence Do I have a run by environment? What, how is power been exercised over me, I mean, that can be a huge part. Or even in those moments, when a man looks back and says, Well, I recall an incident my life where I sought to have influence or exert power in a kind way, and even advocating for myself. And it went ignored, it was actually an experience of feeling disempowered. And so at some point, you know, an individual might, after having been disempowered several times, just say it’s not worth it. And there’s kind of a, you know, if there’s a power switch that they have in the back of their neck, they just decided to turn it off.

Josh 2:02
That’s really good. You put your finger on, I think, really, when I say men have to reckon with their issues with power, their hang ups around power, you’re putting your finger kind of looking back, like where are those some of the issues may have come from and so man, as you’re listening, what encourages, we talk through today to be thinking about what are your experiences with power? Ben, do you think back to your childhood? What were your experiences of power? Who had power in your life? And how did they wield that power? Was it a gift to you? Was it a threat to you? Was it a Was it a harm to you? And that’s that is going to kind of open some doors for you as you consider like, why do I have issues of power? And so so let’s do let’s talk through those we had, you know, three different categories want to talk about when it comes to, to dealing with our issues with power? And and how it plays out, especially in the area of sexual integrity or lack of sexual integrity? So the first area is that kind of like, the overpowering man, the man who who misuses or abuses power? How do you see that in the realm of sexual addiction recovery in the realm of men who come and walk with you and coaching and groups?

Dan Keefer 3:20
Sure, well, kind of right off the bat. Whatever a man is drawn to in terms of his unwanted sexual behavior could actually reflect the desire or the intent to have power over another person. And in doing so there’s no not recognizing that, okay, this person is made in the image of God, this person has dignity this person has worth and value. And so the the the man ends up practicing online sexual behavior, and looking at it and saying, This person is for me, I will exert power over him or her. And that’s not where we stop I would I would want to take that individual into their history into the story into their life. And even be asking questions about how did you see power manifested as you were growing up? And it might be that that child You know, when that man was a child, he saw the effects of power over he saw power over whether it was maybe in violence, verbal abuse, neglect, abandonment, any number of ways power over may have been seen. And so then as this man is moving on, he’s actually repeating or reenacting what he saw and experienced growing up

Josh 4:39
and I think there’s no shortage of, of examples in our culture around men who in the in the area of sexuality are exerting power misusing power. I mean, the whole me to movement is a is a reaction to a struggle. problem where we’re men have misused power, misuse, place misuse, authority, misuse, misuse influence, as a way to take advantage of other people sexually. And, and, and so now we have a, you know, it’s a good thing but a growing movement of people who saying timeout like this, we we are not going to live like this anymore. But on a smaller scale you’re describing. And I think this, this goes to the individual story of when when a man is is wrestling with using his his power, whatever that is the you know, whether it’s physical strength, whether it’s influence, whether it’s, if it’s a if it’s a religious home that believes the the husband is the head of the home, uses that to control another to get their own way. That can that can propel and compound the the sexual addiction, the unwanted sexual behavior. So, so for a guy who’s coming into your office, Dan, who, you know, say he’s been looking at pornography for the last couple of decades, or he’s had an affair. What is he? How does he need to reckon with his tendency towards overpowering in his marriage or in his relationships as a as a as a route towards moving to healthier engagement with power? So he can find greater sexual integrity? I don’t know if that’s that it was a really long question. But I think I think you get what I’m after.

Dan Keefer 6:29
So as I’m engaging with someone, part of it is like I don’t want to one want the individual move from, from where he is to swinging to the other end of the spectrum of seeing himself as this horrible, terrible, shameful, contemptuous individual. But being able to see that However, his power over others is manifesting itself, too. And we’ve used this and other in other podcasts to be curious. And to be able to say, recognize, I didn’t get here overnight, there’s something about this, that is a result of previous life experiences, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. So if I can, I can start to understand my story, and realize how I saw power manifested or how my use of power, maybe is a reversal of what I had experienced, then that can actually help me to do something different. So I’m understanding what came before and not just addressing what is very present in a moment.

Josh 7:36
Like that a lot in there guys can go to even even looking at at what kind of pornography they’re looking at, what what roles they play in the, in the fantasies, they think through like, what what, how is power played out in those situations? And what is that pointing to in my life as far as my experiences with with power in the past? And I think we’ve got we got to talk about vulnerability a little bit here, I think because we’re, I think that that oftentimes, when a man’s exerting power, authority influence mis misusing kind of way. There’s there’s often it’s it’s self protective. It’s an unwillingness to do the courageous hard work of being vulnerable in his in his own life. And so rather than wrestle with what happened to me in my past, what power was like for me in my past, and how I’m still carrying that rat, rather with within wrestling with my own failures today, my own fears of failure, my own sense of inadequacy. That’s the courageous vulnerable work, but instead of doing that, just misusing power to push other people control the people, so that I don’t have to do that, that, that hard work. That’s some of the, I think the hard work of recovery for somebody who’s who, who tends to misuse power than anything else you’d add to that, then,

Dan Keefer 9:03
yeah, it’s interesting, when you start to go down the road of vulnerability, I just, I just had this image in mind of a man kind of powering up and when you say power up, it’s the second image or that stands up taller and straighter. And it’s in a way to in a physical way say I want to appear larger than I actually am. Because if you actually saw what was behind this facade, you know, you would you would be disgusted, you would turn away you would want nothing to do with him. So so the exertion of power can actually be to cover that can be like a thin, thin veneer over fear. Fear of being known fear of being seen, fear of being experienced in terms of the brokenness, that’s there. And so, vulnerability is fundamental. But that’s the place that we can be so afraid of going and and again, this powering is not just showing up in the unwanted sexual behavior, but it shows up for a husband in relationship with his wife, a father to his children, and employer to employees or a supervisor to those that are being supervised, that powering up can all be seen in those areas. And it can also be seen in a pastor leaving a church. And in some ways, you know, there’s there’s some types of power that gets baptized in the church realm that that looks nothing like Jesus.

Josh 10:33
Yeah, I love I appreciate you saying that. And I think I mean, it’s taken us probably too long in this recording to talk about Jesus. Because I think the reality is, as we’re, as we’re learning to reckon with our own issues of power, we have to go to Jesus, we have to be looking at the man Jesus, who he was, he was a he was definitely an empowered man. I mean, God had given Jesus authority, he had authority as, as you know, the second member of the Trinity. I mean, he isn’t, he is not a weakling, I mean, and yet any power that he will that he wielded for the sake of others in in love. I’m gonna say that again, because someone’s rolling something around upstairs. And

so any power that that Jesus wield, that he wielded, for the sake of others, he, he used his power, recognize his power was was, was a tool for the sake of love, if I can put it that way. And that’s, that’s our goal. So we’ll get to that. But the second realm we want to get into is, is maybe on the other extreme, and these are certainly related. But the other extreme of men having to reckon with their issues of power. Are is the man who’s disempowered the man who has issues with with exerting whatever strength, influence voice he’s actually supposed to have in his life and in his world and in his family, who just instead has kind of learned to abdicate that. So talk about that as it relates to sexual addiction recovery, Dan?

Dan Keefer 12:09
Yeah. So there’s another word that came to mind as you were talking about, you know, the power, being disempowered is how that leads then into passivity. And so in our human relationships, then we just become passive. I don’t, the belief being I don’t have influence or even making an agreement that says, I will never have influence. And so then where that comes into the unwanted sexual behavior is that can can that can become a realm in which a person reverses the experience of impassivity, or being disempowered is able to exert power, kind of like the first rung the power over. But it can also go the other way, where, because an individual might say, well, because I’m disempowered, I’m going to repeat that fantasy in the fantasy realm in the unwanted sexual behavior realm, that may actually, you know, be involve elements of disempowerment elements of being humiliated, or just not not being not being affirmed and praise. So it’s, that becomes that, yeah, that picture of repeating, repeating that experience of not having power.

Josh 13:20
So I mean, in the so in the sexual fantasy realm, the man who is either being overpowered in his fantasies, somebody else is taking control initiating, that they’re the powerful figure in the fantasy or the man who is is the powerful figure in the fantasy. Both of those can be that disempowered. That man who’s really reckoning with has to reckon with his own sense of being disempowered. The one is the repeating, the one is the reversing that one is repeating it in fantasy, one is reversing it in the fantasy as opposed to really dealing with it, I can think about some men I’ve worked with over the years who, and I think if I, if I lean towards one or the other of these, I think this is the one I lean towards, I lean towards kind of more having to reckon with the feeling of being disempowered. It’s like, a growth point for me in my life is learning to have a voice to say what I think, to step out into make a decision, when it’s risky. I mean, that’s, that’s the growth point for me. So, I relate more with this, you know, this, this part of the reckoning with power, but I can think of in my own life and the lives of someone that I’ve worked with, where you can see kind of a stalling like there’s, there’s a, they kind of, like, do a lot of sexual integrity work, they find some brothers around them where they, you know, they have they’re accountable. But in key areas of their life, whether it’s in the work that they do, in their relationships, in their marriage and their parenting, they they still wrestle with standing up and acting with, with influence having having a voice like Being an agent for change where they need it often turning, turning anger inward as opposed to letting anger motivate them to move towards change. And, yeah, and it just, it is a recipe to continue to run to whatever unwanted sexual behavior a person is dealing with. Am I making sense? I hope I

Dan Keefer 15:23
absolutely as you’re, as you’re sharing that, I’m just thinking what I would, if I was, when I’d be talking with a guy, I would might throw out a like, I wonder what it would look like. So what would it look like, if you were to actually speak into a particular situation at home? Or, or at work or in the community, wherever it might be? What would that look like? And so just kind of create that picture. And, and now there are situations where, you know, guys guys will tell me, I’ve done that, or I know what the outcome is going to be. And so there really are challenges because even at times, some, some men seeking to do it with the best effort with the best heart, they’re invited in environments where it will simply not be received. And so there’s a, there’s a really significant challenge there with seeing them being empowered, even when everything seems to be working against them.

Josh 16:22
Yeah, and, and, I mean, hear us in this, I think, like, the the end goal is not, you know, I, I know how to use power. So I get what I want, every time I want it as I want it, like I mean wielding power can, wielding God given strength, your God given voice, your God given influence, is something that we I think, grow into, it’s all something that we learn how to do. A friend of mine recently took a very risky step in a relationship that was really hard for him and talked about something with someone in his life that he’d never talked to them about before. And it did, in many ways did not go well. It the conversation ended more quickly, the other person did not seem to receive it. Well, my friend afterwards, what he said was, he said, I felt like a man for the first time in that relationship. Because I said what I needed to say, and when and I and I stood by it, I you know, he trusted he had something to say and he brought it. So it’s not always that we’re looking for like seeing all the outcome we want but but are we in our in our whatever arena we’re living in family work, etc. Are we have a voice that matters there is are we bringing ourselves to the table in a way that honors who God has made us to be in honors the gifts God’s given us to give. And then my friend was a great example of that the other day.

Dan Keefer 17:46
And as you’re saying that it reminds me that we we need others that are that are with us that are on this journey with us because they can help to give us the courage to move towards another maybe it’s a family member, and to and to speak into something to seek to have, you know, Christ like influence or power in a situation. And the other person may as I said earlier, may not be able to receive it for whatever is going on in that other person’s life. But then to be able to go back to this company of other men, or a coach or someone who can say you know what, you did well, by by taking that risk, that individual couldn’t receive it. But that is not a reflection of who you are. That’s a reflection of where that person is on his or her journey. So there’s that that encouragement that’s that’s really important.

Josh 18:35
Yeah, love that. Love that. Yeah, and I love the thing bringing up and there’s this is a whole nother conversation but that to learn to appropriately wield power influence strength in our lives. Is is not a solo event. It does require us to act we can’t be somebody else cannot do it all for us. But but it is something that is done in the in the community of people care for us. So let’s let’s let’s come back around to this third rung. So we talked about men who wrestle with overpowering. We’ve talked about men who who wrestle with being under power disempowered, and both the need for both to really reckon with their their stories around power so that they can, because if they don’t, that that will continue to go sideways and unwanted sexual behavior for most of them. The third rung that will we just need to conclude with is, is being empowered men, men who have a voice menu have substance men who have agency in the world. And, indeed, you and I were talking beforehand about the reality even when we get to this point, both of us, in our own ways, kind of even have a little bit of cringe factor. We talked about being empowered men who have agency because we’re so surrounded with misuses of that. It’s hard to kind of just trust that people will hear that in the way that we interact. it. But again, here we we point to Jesus and and would really ask anyone to say, you know, could you point to Jesus and say that he was not an empowered person? And I think the answer is he was absolutely empowered and yet, and yet, what do you do with that power? And so Dan, what do you? How do we how do we, what does it look like to be an empowered man in a way that we’re talking about? As it relates to Jesus?

Dan Keefer 20:27
Well, I, you know, Philippians two, the Chris trace humility in those verses there, I just find myself continually going back to that, rather than looking at the misuses of power around me and in our, in our nation and throughout the world. And even amongst Christian leaders, I come back to who Jesus is, and just this picture of, you know, not doing anything out of conceit, but in humility, count others is more significant than than ourselves. And Jesus being in the form of God didn’t consider that he ought to grasp onto that. But he released that he let it go, and he made himself nothing. And a scripture says he took on the nature of a servant. And that’s, and that that’s a picture of someone who has power, who could use power, but willingly lays it down. And that’s, that’s a place that we’re invited to come from, that’s honoring power, that’s coming alongside others, that’s the power under, that’s elevating others, that’s lifting others, rather than power over to dominate to force to manipulate. And that’s, that’s the picture that we’re invited into. And this is so significant on the healing journey, as well, for those for those that are in recovery. Because it’s a shift of mindset. It’s, I have something to offer I have strength to give, I have influence to give others, and that that’s a significant antidote to shame. Right there. Huh?

Josh 22:01
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, as you’re, as you’re sharing all that mean, I find it myself like, yeah, that’s, that’s what I want. I want, I want that, that deep sense of God inspired, empowered. You know, Josh, Glazer, he, I, I want to be a man in the world who steps into a room with with that kind of purpose and intentionality, not to not to be the end all in control. Not to be the, you know, the super hero, but in that self aggrandizing way, but but so that I can bring good into the world. You know, if Jesus was disempowered, he would not have stood up to the Pharisees, he would not have gone to the cross, he would have run into seminary, he wouldn’t have stayed. He wouldn’t have even prayed. I mean, how many times do we avoid prayer because we’re scared of what God might say. Jesus was not a disempowered man, he was an incredibly courageous, solid man. And yet, he was not an overpowering man. I mean, think about that. I mean, it doesn’t take much thing about the tenderness of Christ, in his interactions with people. And, and, and sinners, men and women alike, felt it from him, otherwise, they would not have come to him. So there’s obviously something about how he’s wielding power that is that, you know, he could stand up to the Pharisees on the one hand, and then turn around and somebody who was meek or afraid or ashamed or sinful, would be running toward him. They weren’t afraid, because of what they saw, as he, as he wielded his power towards others. So anyway, just a beautiful vision. And we could spend, I’m sure a Lifetime Learning from Christ in that regard. So yes, Dan, you want to you want to just close that in a prayer, especially for the men listening. And maybe for all of us really, that we continue to be tutors of arena, tutored by Christ, and how to be the man he’s created to be in this area of our lives.

Dan Keefer 23:57
So Father, thanks for thanks for what you represent for us as a, as a father who stewards power for the benefit of those that you love for your creation. And Jesus, thank you that you are the perfect reflection of the Father. When when the disciples said, you know, Jesus shows the father and that’ll be enough. You said, you know, you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father, and, and so thank you that you represent that and as we see you, as Joshua said, interacting with tenderness and love and kindness with those who who were broken. We see that that is the same love that’s the same power under that you that you extend to each of us. And so, I just asked for for men that are struggling for women who may be struggling as well, that that there would be an experience of you coming along, being present and lifting and carrying, and that they would not see a misuse of power over them. They would see that you are engaging them, loving them, and leading them into a greater place of recognizing that you’re not only inviting them into freedom from whatever the unwanted behavior may be, but you’re also inviting and leading them into a way of exerting the type of power influence that you have if you have shared from a posture of humility. And so I just asked me to continue this work in in both Josh and I in our circles of influence, but also in the lives of men and women who are listening and and beyond. I pray this all in your name Jesus, amen. Amen.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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