The True Meaning of Empowerment

To feel empowered, or to act or speak in a manner that empowers, is to promote the sense of self-efficacy within the restoration journey. To see someone acting empowered, is to see that person exhibit a sense of confidence in their ability to achieve the result of ongoing healthy choices.

When someone is feeling empowered, it means they’ve felt enabled and motivated towards a greater responsibility and authority in their own life to make healthy, often times better, choices. While this description of empowerment is true, there is more to be understood about what it really means to live the empowered lifestyle.

Within the therapeutic skill of motivational interviewing, an evidence-based practice, the power of choice, otherwise known as self-efficacy, is promoted. When someone better understands the choices available, and what those choices could mean, empowerment is present. But, where does this new strength to carry out better choices come from? To understand, we must look at the root meaning of the word empowerment.

The Greek verb, Endunamoó (en-doo-nam-ó-o) means, to empower. The Greek verb dunamoó means, “To make strong and enable.” The strength spoken of in the word endunamoó, is not a self made strength, but is strength given or shared. The short definition of the word endunamoó means, “I fill with power, strengthen, make strong.” Notice the definition alludes to the truth that there is power coming from someone else. The particular combination of en and dunamoo (empowered) is only found in biblical related Greek.

“Strength” is the Greek word, ischus. Ischus has a lot of implications, from health to moral endowment. It is applied capacity, otherwise known as the ability to do well. “Might” is the Greek word kratos. This is a word about power available for action. It doesn’t imply that the action takes place, only that the power is ready to be used when needed. So again, who supplies the power?

Jesus is the “I” that supplies the empowerment. How do we know this? Because in Matthew 28:18, we are told by Jesus Himself that, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” The woman who sought desperately to get to Jesus had faith that just touching His robe would bring healing to her.

Just then, a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:20-22)

It is in His power, and only from this place of strength where life can be empowered and transformed. We can tap into His power, for it is "Christ who dwells in our hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). That power is available to provide the capacity that we need to make the ongoing, wise and healthy choices, even when we think we cannot.

Biblical Examples of Empowerment

• Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. - Romans 4:20

• Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. - Ephesians 6:10

• I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:13

• I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. - 1 Timothy 1:12-14

• You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. - 2 Timothy 2:1

• But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. - 2 Timothy 4:17

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we are reminded by God that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And so we find that it is not in our own strength, but His strength that enables and empowers us. It is His might available to us so that we can act in wisdom, wellness, love and strength.

His might provides the needed capacity for the ultimate feeling of being empowered.

And that my friends, is the true meaning of empowerment.

Excerpts from Best Care Practices


NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation

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