In the weeks leading up to the series finale of Succession, much speculation and chatter centered on the question, “Who will win?” That question was a well-laid trap for its viewers and characters, pulling us into a perverse game of betrayal and duplicity. Nobody won.
Winning and losing were obsessions—idols. If winning becomes our quest, then we are getting it all wrong. For four years, we watched this boardroom drama pit family members against each other in a fight to be on top, to succeed. This invited viewers to reflect on our perceptions of power and acquisition.
Succession allows Christians to evaluate our preconceived notions about influence and control, exposing our abandonment of Christ-like formation in lieu of a world fashioned after our interests and self-preservation. How has the mindset, “What am I owed?” twisted the very nature of our relationships? In God’s economy, power is meant to be life-giving. With surgical precision, Succession exposes the sacrifice of our true design, purpose, and calling for a counterfeit pursuit.
Power isn’t intended to be corrosive; indeed, God is all-powerful, and He empowers us. Power is meant to be helpful and good, providing a pathway for imagination, work, and beauty. It is fascinating that the creation story depicted in Genesis doesn’t portray power as ravaging hunger. It isn’t consuming; it is expansive, multiplying, creative. God infuses the void with light, order, and substance. God uses power to build and make. In the same story where God imbues His authority in humans, we read that God rested. He is satisfied. There is completion, fulfillment, and peace—all is good.
Outside of Eden, we strive to accumulate power, remain self-sufficient, independent of God, and ultimately, that leaves us unsatisfied. In Succession, we witness billionaires who are never satisfied. With every merger, they will only gain more money. They are god-like in their wealth, yet, they only want more. With such insatiable appetites, nothing is enough, and the craving for power only compounds their hunger and addiction. Heir apparent, Kendall Roy, hints at some knowledge of this addiction. In his fight for control, he acknowledges that the power—obtaining it and keeping it—will likely destroy him. This knowledge only fuels his consumption. And like any addiction, in the end, he finds himself ensnared. He is a shell of a man having lost it all, yet, still longing for that same power that devoured his humanity, his relationships, and his soul. He is starved of everything.
It is easy to watch Succession disconnected from this elite world of business and finance. This story of excess can reveal an unrelenting thirst for control that exists in us. Succession is a cautionary tale that challenges our misconception that unfettered power can sustain or nourish us.
How has a vision of a conquering kingdom become an insatiable hunger in the Church—individually and corporately? That hunger should draw us to God’s table. Instead, we move away from God, trying to fill our emptiness. How has power become our addiction? In ministries, churches, and families, have we sacrificed relationships for the sake of greed, or allowed our souls to be consumed by a desire for power? Do we laud the leaders who give “everything” to their congregation? Isn’t this idolatry? What monster are we feeding? We can see this beast devouring Kendall Roy, but do we recognize that monster is within us?
The longing to be nourished and fed is real and right. Power and ambition aren’t evil. The question is, where do we turn to satisfy our appetites? Regular rituals of reflection and confession enable us to thrive, placing our hungry hearts before the One who is the bread of life. This is what God invites us to experience at the Communion table.
Currently, we face a reckoning and backlash in the U.S. related to our view of authority, both inside and outside the Church. We’ve grown averse to front men who rule with an iron fist. We are ousting leaders who foster toxic environments and those who are demanding, loud, and controlling. Yelling doesn’t work anymore. We reject leadership styles that create a culture where folks function under fear—fear of disapproval, rejection, or retaliation.1
Our world is growing intolerant of the intolerant “Logan Roy.” We are shifting and extolling the virtues of “soft power.” Author Joseph Nye uses “soft power” to denote persuasion and attraction instead of coercion to gain one’s desired outcome. The art of negotiation and collaboration is meant to replace brute force, yet this approach doesn’t necessarily lead to goodness. Without character or virtue, soft power can be underhanded and manipulative. The brash vulgarity of Logan Roy gives way to his children’s subversive displays of “soft power.” They bank on charisma and curried favor.
Cults of personality, though warm and pleasant, still demand blind allegiance. They still view others as underlings. They demand adherence to their agenda and create a performance-based culture where everyone strives for the boss’s approval. The toxicity remains. The power given to us by God isn’t intended to bend others to our will; it is centered on others. We are meant to work powerfully under His authority and on His behalf as caretakers and image-bearers. As Christians, wisdom, gentleness, and goodness must accompany our employment of power if we wish to be just and merciful. What character traits do we value in our pulpits, in our elders, or around our board tables? Inflated egos? Have we forgotten who is meant to inherit the earth?
Chaos is palpable throughout Succession. There is no sense of safety, no anchor. Everything is quicksand. A sense of power centered on one’s own agenda and that abandons others without regret creates outcasts and enemies. Hostility and hubris must give way to humility. Christ tethers us to Himself so that we might create communities that are an extension of His restoration and repair—communities that are attuned to the surrounding turmoil of this world, and yet displace fear because every person feels valued.
In a recent podcast, Jesse Armstrong, Succession’s creator, talked about how the family name Roy, which built an empire, becomes nothing. This fictional empire is meant to remind us of the famous dynasties of our world, like Disney, Morgan, and Getty. The power resides in the corporation. When the Roy children lose the family business, they lose their influence—no one cares what they think anymore. They garnered attention because of their namesake, not because they earned respect. Succession exposes how a legacy drenched in privilege and void of substance is no inheritance.
It is tempting to place our faith in a name or a dynasty, setting aside discernment for loyalty. As Christians, we hold to Christ’s name as our own. It is His renown we wish to promote (Psalm 115:1). Yet, God has not created us to be insignificant children—our work matters. We matter because of God’s love and delight towards us, not because of privilege or prominence. Dignity is our mantle.
Succession is a show of indictment. Its commentary on systems and power structures is layered and searing. If we only see the critique, however, we lose sight of an invitation. The God of Scripture links our empowerment to His identity and likeness and the acknowledgment of human dignity. Power will twist and corrupt us when we lose sight of the fact that every person is created to bear God’s image. As followers of Christ, there are alternative approaches to power we can embrace.
First, we turn to the words of Paul in Philippians 2:1-11. Paul reminds us that Christ, who is omnipotent, became lowly, human, frail, and impotent. He relinquished his power to restore us. Christ’s power is magnified through His suffering and surrender. Christ’s power is given, not withheld. To establish His Kingdom, He gave up His rights as a King. Paul invites us to this mindset. This is the manner we are meant to model: letting go to gain. Second, the ancient Paschal troparion sung for centuries across the globe by Christians in the Eastern Orthodox Church reminds us of the true aim of Christ.
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
Christ’s power is amplified through His death, not erased by it. Christ moves towards death so that we might be made alive. Conquering death became His pursuit, not the halls of fortune—not Caesar’s court. Christ set all His energy on our freedom from evil and our victory over decay. This is our inheritance. This is the power entrusted to us in His name. This power is absent from the world of Succession. Christ’s power is given to us to challenge hell and death. Succession shows us how misery and death imprison the world. We are created to confront this hellish captivity, breaking evil’s grip with a humble power that nourishes the soul and restores dignity. May this be the power we pursue.