“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
~ Augustine of Hippo
Definitions of Power:
Although Max Weber emphasized the destructiveness of power-over, others have brought nuance to the discussion. Groups may have power when people work together (Hannah Arendt), and in this way marginalized groups may become self-empowered (Amy Allen). Allen distinguished power-over, power-to (which emphasizes the goal), and power-with (people working together). But power-over is not always destructive. Thomas Wartenberg studies what he calls transformative power-over that is not oppressive because (1) it seeks the good of the weaker one, and (2) it seeks to make itself obsolete. That kind of power is sometimes equated with womanliness or motherhood, but Kathy Ehrensperger notes that not only women/mothers act in these ways, and not all women/mothers do. She concludes that unequal power relations are not inherently oppressive as long as the essential equality of the weaker is recognized and power is not continually held by the same person/people (summarized from Kathy Ehrensperger, Paul and the Dynamics of Power, pp. 16-34).
I have also found the following books and videos helpful in sorting through issues of power, particularly power in the church and the way it intersects with gender. I hope you do, too!
Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland
Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch
Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence by MaryKate Morse
Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch
More by Christena Cleveland:
And here is a summary of her thoughts on good listening
For male leaders, you can read "9 Ridiculously Practical Ways for Male Leaders to Empower Female Leaders in the Church" by J.R. Briggs
Tools and techniques:
Of course, it is imperative to be educated on abuse. Here is a list of recommended books, but I also want to draw attention to "God's Protection of Women," a brief resource that adds abuse to adultery and abandonment as reasons for divorce that the Bible supports. See also: Violence against women—it's a men's issue: Jackson Katz and Hyperbole and Divorce in the Sermon on the Mount by Marg Mowczko.