Powerlessness and How It Can Help You

Powerlessness and How It Can Help You

Most of us hate feeling powerless; and, indeed, it is not very good for us – especially for extended periods of time. It can lead to depression, anxiety, outbursts of anger, alienation from others, physical symptoms; and, in its trauma form, it can lead to the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (e.g. nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and loss of concentration or memory to name a few).

Sometimes powerlessness comes from circumstances we have little or no control over. Other times it comes from the consequences of our actions. The latter can be even more frustrating because we may say, “I could have done something different”. We ruminate and replay the situation over and over. This can be helpful if we can process it into lessons learned, insight, awareness about others or ourselves, and character growth.

It is interesting to note that sometimes powerlessness can be very powerful. When Jesus surrenders to the cross, His powerlessness redeems the whole world. This is also illustrated in the fictional Star Wars movie where Obi Wan allows himself to be slain by Darth Vader only to come back as a ghost to aid Luke in fighting the Empire. The Apostle Paul talks about his powerlessness as an affliction he has and how it helps him grow and be empowered. Joseph’s powerlessness in the Old Testament is the seed for his rise to power in the house of Pharaoh. Despite his brother’s plot against him, he is faithful, and God sends him before his family to redeem them in their day of need. After they realize that the brother they sold into slavery is now in power over them, the brothers hear him say “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”


It is interesting to note that sometimes powerlessness can be very powerful.

Dealing with powerlessness is a tricky matter sometimes.

First, we must realize that powerlessness in not necessarily hopelessness. 

Powerlessness may just mean you are not in control right now.

Second, it is important to admit our powerlessness to God and others.

This can get us out of the way, allowing God to work in areas where we do not have the ability or opportunity to change things. Telling others about our powerlessness can be a request for help; and, as a part of that, can provide a place for us to get emotional support, accountability, and structure.

Third, deal with powerlessness by processing it. 

Write down what you are feeling and thinking; what you believe about yourself and the situation; what you may have done to contribute to the situation; and what others may have contributed rather than what is purely circumstantial. Try to avoid “All or Nothing” thinking. The “All Is Lost” mentality is not very helpful. Slowing things down and evaluating the situation is usually better in both the short and long run. Nehemiah puts this into action when he feels powerless at first to deal with greedy nobles who are loan sharking their fellow Hebrews right back into slavery. He slows down his anger and brings the nobles to task.

Fourth, after the initial shock wears off, try seeing where the processing leads you. 

What does it tell you about the situation, yourself, others involved, your motives, your priorities, the lessons learned, and how you can grow from it.

Overall, powerlessness is not something to be desired; but it is, essentially, unavoidable in life. How we deal with it and use it to grow and move closer to God and others is the key.

Do you need help getting connected?
Join us at one of our Weekend Workshops.
You will laugh, learn, and by God’s grace be transformed.
800-NEWLIFE | newlife.com

Check out Steve’s new book, Take Your Life Back

Follow Steve

Steve Arterburn

Steve Arterburn is a nationally and internationally known speaker and has been featured in national media outlets such as Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN Live, The New York Times, ABC World News Tonight, GQ and Rolling Stone.Steve is a best-selling author of books such as Every Man’s Battle, Healing Is A Choice, and The 7-Minute Marriage Solution and recently co-authored Take Your Life Back with Dr. David Stoop, and The Mediterranean Love Plan, with wife Misty. Along with Dr. Dave Stoop, Steve edited and produced the #1 selling Life Recovery Bible. With over 8 million books in print he has been writing about God’s transformational truth since 1984, and has won three Gold Medallions for writing excellence.
Follow Steve

Latest posts by Steve Arterburn (see all)

Share

Steve Arterburn is a nationally and internationally known speaker and has been featured in national media outlets such as Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN Live, The New York Times, ABC World News Tonight, GQ and Rolling Stone. Steve is a best-selling author of books such as Every Man’s Battle, Healing Is A Choice, and The 7-Minute Marriage Solution and recently co-authored Take Your Life Back with Dr. David Stoop, and The Mediterranean Love Plan, with wife Misty. Along with Dr. Dave Stoop, Steve edited and produced the #1 selling Life Recovery Bible. With over 8 million books in print he has been writing about God’s transformational truth since 1984, and has won three Gold Medallions for writing excellence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *