“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
— Matthew 10:16 (NRSV)
My mentor once told me, “It’s time to grow up. Not everyone is going to like you.” Jesus gives the disciples a similar pep talk in this passage, and explains that they will have to use different kinds of power and skill to do their work in the world. Sometimes we need to live into our dove power — focusing on prayer, contemplation and gentle invitations and sometimes we need to live into serpent power — cunning, thoughtful, strategic interactions. When making social change — bringing good news to the oppressed — you have to use both dove and serpent power to reach individual hearts and impact structural injustices.