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Mobilizer or Manipulator
by Dee Mapa
08/09/05
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Mobilizer or Manipulator?

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens. -Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813)

There's a thin line between calling oneself a mobilizer or manipulator. To see the difference, let's begin in the most obvious place -- the dictionary. For our purpose, it's the The American Heritage dictionary:

mobilize v. 1. To make mobile or capable of movement. 2. To assemble and prepare for or as if for war.

manipulate v. 1. To operate or control by skilled use of the hands; handle. 2. To influence or manage shrewdly or deviously. 3. To tamper with with or falsify for personal gain.

Not much difference, is there? Perhaps the difference between the two lies in the phrase, for personal gain. There are many so-called leaders who like to brandish themselves as "mobilizers." Yet, the very core of their motives is for personal aggrandizement, lapping up the accolades (and/or financial juice) from achievements accomplished by those he "mobilized."

The Bible calls this, lording it over:

"Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" -Matt 20:25-28 (NIV)

"Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." -2 Cor 1:24 (NIV)

In the verse above, the Apostle Paul writes, "...we work WITH you (not ABOVE you) for YOUR joy (not PAUL's joy)..." Paul was a leader because he was first a servant, having discovered that his needs were met when he sought to meet the needs of others.

As the above quote from Thomas Jefferson suggests, a dishonest man will find no pleasure --or compunction, for that matter-- in exercising power over others for his own personal gain. Dishonest, by the way, also means deceptive.

If you're a leader over a team, constantly check your motives and see if you're first being a servant. If you're under a leader, the Bible exhorts us to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1). If your leader constantly wants to make it known that he's a mobilizer, perhaps deep inside he's actually a manipulator. Have nothing to do with him!


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