Good morning, I’m Chaplain Michael Jaques, a chaplain in the US Army Reserve and at the VA. In our continuing discussion on powerlessness, we will look at some of the ideas of Rev. Charles Gerkin.
Rev. Charles Gerkin was a pastoral care theologian and educator. He often addressed the issue of powerlessness. He described the importance of people having an accurate understanding of their power. He taught that while people have a unique power in themselves in relation to others, they also need to accept the limits of their power.
Much of Gerkin’s concern was how people responded when they reached the limits of their power. He recognized that everyone has a certain amount of power that has been endowed to them. Some people are even able to exercise a great amount of power. Eventually, though, everyone gets to the end of their power and experiences feelings of powerlessness. If people do not accept these limitations of human power, then they will be broken by those limitations.
Gerkin noticed a remedy to this quandary. He recognized that mature persons realize their power, accept their powerlessness, and commit themselves to a higher power. For instance, people learn as many insights as they can, do as much as they can, but, in the end, are dependent on God. God is ultimately the sustenance of care. All of us merely participate with what God is already doing.
The danger is that people lose the perspective that they are participating with God and begin to put themselves in the place of God. The result of putting oneself in the place of God, is the eventual brokenness.