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  • John Whitehead

Truth to Power

The willingness to speak “truth to power” is being replaced with a willingness to withhold the truth for fear of those in power. This can be seen in a variety of ways as culture seems willing to embrace every decree.


It should not be this way.


This is neither healthy for those in positions of authority nor those who are subject to them.

You see, the need to ask questions and to speak “truth to power” may never be more important than it is today.


If this is true, why is it so difficult for so many to speak out and up when they know they should? Does this say something about the person, the organization or both?


I believe it is the latter and it speaks to an inherent weakness in our world today.


If we speak up, we are a divisive force or a source of dissension. Therefore, many remain silent even when they know they should speak. On the other end of the spectrum are the ones who are unwilling to listen to a constructive viewpoint from a subordinate out of a fear of appearing weak.


In each case, it speaks of a character flaw. For the person unwilling to speak, it may be a fear of being called out, ostracized or worse. For the one unwilling to listen the problem may be one of ego. For both, it reeks of insecurity.


The extraordinary thing about power is, it corrupts. This can be seen in our politics and in a variety of our interpersonal relationships. From parents and teachers to pastors and businesspeople. Earning the right to be respected because of your position has given way to demanding respect because of the power of that position.


The necessity to be heard is stifled as the willingness to mandate obedience is being impressed upon people every day.


So, what can we do about it? How can we change direction and reestablish a paradigm where “truth to power” is not only appreciated, it’s expected and encouraged?


It starts with each of us. We must believe we have value and a voice that needs to be heard when appropriate.


For those in position where power can be exerted, we must realize the people we are blessed to have in our lives are not our lesser. In our homes, we must remember, these are the people we love. In our churches and workplaces, we must understand no one works for us, they all work with us and they deserve the respect of being listened to.


The bottom line is, truth can be spoken to power, when power can recognize the truth!


1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”




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