Spiderman was My Favorite

“…with great power comes great responsibility”.

Spiderman was one of my favorite superheroes as a child. He had some cool abilities even if they did come about in a strange way. Yet, Spiderman recognized that his power could be wielded in irresponsible ways. He could use his power for the common good or he could use his power to enable evil to run free.

A few years ago, I received a phone call from a Nazarene pastor in another state. Some people in his congregation had been sharing emails and social media posts that were rather alarming. He was certain it was “fake news”, but a leader he respected had also shared it. So he was doing his due diligence to verify his suspicion before he confronted this leader.

The pastor called me because he knew my congregation was in close proximity to Dearborn, Michigan. I confirmed it was true. Dearborn is about a ten minute drive for me. It is the home of Ford Motor Company as well as Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (both are a “must visit”). It’s also the home of the Dearborn Spiral Ham Co. Yum! I have shopped there many times and even worked in Dearborn for awhile.

Over the last 20-30 years, Dearborn has become home to many Middle Eastern families who have immigrated to the U.S. If you shop in Dearborn, you will see many shoppers of Middle Eastern descent; Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Turkey, etc. Many of them are Muslim, but many of them are Eastern Orthodox Christians.

I shared these with the pastor and what he told me next made me laugh out loud. People in his congregation were convinced that Islam had taken over the city of Dearborn, including the police department, and they were beheading Christians in the street. That is when I laughed until I realized he was serious.

First, let me clarify, this is not true. Second, I appreciate his willingness to call a fellow Nazarene in another state to fact check before addressing his leaders. I imagine it was a little embarrassing to say what he did out loud. But he did the responsible thing and asked.

“…with great power comes great responsibility”.

Power comes to us in a variety of ways. Education, position, money, knowledge, connections with others. Any power we have requires us to be responsible for how we use it. Recently, someone suggested that this quote was originally written in the reverse. “…with great responsibility comes great power“. What if we started to recognize that it is our ability to take responsibility for ourselves (and sometimes others) that actually gives us power? It is our consistent ability to show up, take responsibility, and own our behavior that actually earns us the power to influence others. It is being reliable, people of integrity, remaining consistent in how we follow through and treat others that brings about power.

It seems that we have forgotten this truth: character matters. Yet, I understand the temptation. Character is both formed and proven over time. Responsibility and integrity are not acquired over night. And even when we are consistent in our character, integrity, and responsibility, we can still find that our actions and intentions are questioned. It is the long game! And no one wants to take that road. Our society is moving at lightening speed and it feels like we will be left behind. So we are tempted to take short-cuts. We are tempted to wield our power which places us up front rather than take the backseat of responsibility.

I don’t know who needs to hear this today. Maybe it’s just me. But take the long road! It’s hard and bumpy and often it really sucks, but you will be a better person because of it.

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