Author: Mark Roberts

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.

Failure or Success?

Did Joseph Ultimately Fail? Part 2

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I asked the question: Did Joseph ultimately fail? To be more accurate, I borrowed that question from Al Erisman in his book The Accidental Executive: Lessons on Business, Faith, and Calling from the Life of Joseph (chapter 25). Yesterday, I considered whether Christians ought to ask such questions of biblical heroes, answering in the affirmative. Today, I want to begin to reflect on the question itself.

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Man with his hand over his mouth as if in thought, or unable to speak.

Did Joseph Ultimately Fail? Part 1

“Did Joseph ultimately fail?” Al Erisman poses this question in his book The Accidental Executive: Lessons on Business, Faith, and Calling from the Life of Joseph (chapter 25). If, like me, you grew up in the church, faithfully attending Sunday School throughout your young life and believing that the Bible is God’s Word, then Al’s question can seem like heresy. How dare Al ask such a thing! Joseph is one of the great heroes of the Bible. Of course he didn’t fail! Or . . . did he?

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Coffee spilled on work documents.

God’s Mysterious, Marvelous Ways, Part 3

Sometimes God’s “mysterious, marvelous ways” exceed all of our expectations in their obvious goodness. Sometimes, however, God’s ways are mysterious in the opposite direction. It can be hard to catch the marvelous quality.

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Two friends sitting side-by-side.

God’s Mysterious, Marvelous Ways, Part 2

Last Thursday’s Life for Leaders edition was entitled “God’s Mysterious, Marvelous Ways.” In this devotion I focused on Joseph’s claim that God, not his brothers, had sent him to Egypt for God’s own purposes. Today, I want to reflect with you on another dimension of God’s mysterious, marvelous ways.

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Mark’s mom, his son, Nathan, and Mark in Zion National Park, after they completed a three-mile hike a couple of months ago.

A Personal Example of God’s Mysterious, Marvelous Ways

Today is my mother’s birthday. In her honor, I want to tell a story about her life that illustrates what we saw in yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion.

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"Joseph Recognized by His Brothers" by Léon Pierre Urbain Bourgeois

God’s Mysterious, Marvelous Ways

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on the opening verses of Genesis 45, in which Joseph finally reveals his true identity to his brothers. While Joseph wept loudly, his brothers stood silently, “so dismayed were they at his presence” (45:3). No doubt they feared that, given how they had treated Joseph years ago, they were in big trouble now.

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Close up of a very old volume of a book with scuffs.

More Reasons to Believe and Love the Bible

Genesis 45 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, for several reasons. First, in this chapter Joseph finally revealed his true identity to his brothers. I’m reminded of so many delightful movies — from You’ve Got Mail to Iron Man — in which the protagonist finally lets out the secret of his or her real identity. None of these movies offers more suspense and surprise than the story of Joseph in Genesis.

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Wooden pieces in the shape of hearts hung vertically.

Developing a Compassionate Heart

As I reflect on the story of Joseph and his brothers, I’m struck by one aspect of chapter 44. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we saw that Judah, one of Joseph’s older brothers, stuck his neck out on behalf of his youngest brother, Benjamin, and their father, Jacob.

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Joseph Converses with Judah, His Brother, Artist: Tissot, © The Jewish Museum, New York.

Courageous Servant Leadership

In Genesis 43, Jacob, the father of Joseph, was persuaded by his son Judah to let Benjamin, his youngest son, go to Egypt, as Joseph had required. This risky decision was necessary so that Jacob’s family might buy grain to stave off starvation. Jacob, afraid that something terrible would happen to his beloved Benjamin, nevertheless agreed that he should travel to Egypt.

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Photo of the hand of a statue extended, palm up, as if in offering.

The Peace of the Lord Be With You

I did not grow up in a church that passed the peace in worship. We greeted each other more casually, if at all. So, when I began worshiping in a congregation that passed the peace each week, at first I felt a bit awkward. But, as I began to pay more attention to what I was saying and doing, I began to value the passing of the peace as a time to bless my fellow worshipers with one of the greatest of all gifts: God’s peace.

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A business man on a phone call seemingly not liking what he hears.

When Leadership is Deeply Personal – Part 10

In yesterdays Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on a story in Genesis 43.

As I’ve been reflecting on my own life in light of this biblical story, I remember a time when I was in a position rather like that of Jacob and when I had a counselor rather like Judah.

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A man whispering advice to a wiser, older man.

When Leadership is Deeply Personal – Part 9

When we get to Genesis 43:11-14, however, we see an altogether different Jacob. He is leading strategically, willing to put his own needs on the back burner for the sake of his family. What accounts for this change in Jacob’s leadership?

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Person with their face in their hands, as if in despair.

When Leadership is Deeply Personal – Part 8

Today, we continue in the series, “When Leadership is Deeply Personal.” Last week, we examined the example of Joseph, who did allow his strong emotions to influence his decision-making in the wrong direction. But, we saw how, through the passage of time and the influence of Joseph’s faith, he corrected his course. In the first two devotions of this week we began to consider the case of Jacob, Joseph’s father. We saw how his strong leadership of his sons may well have contributed to Jacob’s frustration with their lack of leadership. In today’s devotion, we’ll see how Jacob focused so much on himself that he neglected the needs of those entrusted to his care.

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A fenced path through some hills

When Leadership is Deeply Personal – Part 7

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began focusing on Jacob, Joseph’s father, and his leadership of his family. We saw that Jacob, as the patriarch of his family, was a strong, authoritative leader. Yet, we also saw Jacob’s frustration with his ten sons who kept “looking at one another” rather than taking action to deal with the possible starvation of the family owing to famine (42:1). They did not take the initiative as leaders, but chose instead to wait for their father’s instruction. Reflecting on Jacob’s example, I suggested that sometimes a strong, influential leader can actually inhibit the growth and health of the organization he or she leads.

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Birds flying in a V-formation

When Leadership is Deeply Personal – Part 6

In last week’s Life for Leaders devotions, we considered what happens when leadership is deeply personal, using the example of Joseph in Genesis 42.
This week, I’d like to consider another example of leadership in Genesis 42. Now we’ll look at Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his leadership of his family.

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