Part 4: Stages of Power

A good number of years ago, when I was a young and inexperienced woman in ministry, a mentor showed me Janet Hagberg’s stages of power.  It was an ‘aha’ moment for me.  It gave me an understanding of some of the feelings, experiences, and efforts I was making in my life to become a freer and more giving individual.

We had already covered quite a bit of ground at the women’s retreat, but I checked in with them to see if we could add this additional layer – as a tool to bring us to a deeper awareness of where we’re at and where we want to be.  Given the ages and stages of life and the many experiences represented in the room, I knew that the women would have a lot to offer to one another as we talked about these stages of power.

Though we’d been working with the four quadrants of a circle, representing the seasons of our lives, Hagberg describes six stages of power.  The first stage which would be up in the awakening quadrant, is described as powerless.  In this stage, we feel as though we are starting at ground zero.  Perhaps we have suffered a significant loss – a death of a family member, a break-up or divorce, being laid-off or fired, failing a course at school, not making the team, discovering the betrayal of a friend, financial disaster, totaling the car, illness or sudden disability.  These experiences can leave us feeling unmoored, unsure of where to turn, disconnected from needed resources.  Some may call it ‘hitting bottom’.  Hagberg suggests that in this place we may realize our need for God.  We cry out for help – we have no where else to turn.  We awaken from the stupor and recognize that we cannot carry on simply relying on our own devices.

The second stage is described as power by association.  We find an ally, a friend, someone to support us, encourage us, share resources with us.  I don’t know if any of you were one of the cool kids in school – but I most definitely was not.  Older kids bullied me.  One particularly humiliating si