Fuller

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.

Ageism Unmasked

What’s happening in the current presidential election in the United States could be good news for those of us in the third third of life.

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Who’s Holding You? Part 2

There are many different ways to be “held” by people. Sometimes we need someone like Joe to tell us encouraging things about ourselves. Sometimes we need someone who just listens. Sometimes we need lots of empathy. Sometimes we need to get out and do something fun. Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky remind us that leaders of change need places to be “held” by others. The relationship of Paul and Timothy in the New Testament offers a fitting biblical example of “holding.” If we’re going to do wise inner work, we need people in our lives to support us in that effort by offering their listening, kindness, wisdom, and love. And, of course, we need to offer the same to others. 

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Who’s Holding You? Part 1

Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky remind us that leaders of change need to create “holding environments.” But we also need places to be “held” by others. The relationship of Paul and Timothy in the New Testament offers a stirring biblical example of such “holding.” If we’re going to do wise inner work, we need people in our lives to support us in that effort by offering their kindness, wisdom, and love. And, of course, we need to offer the same to others. 

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Inner Work and Acknowledging Your Limits

A crucial part of the inner work of leadership is being realistic about the limits of our abilities, competencies, and gifts. Sometimes leaders seem to think they need to be omni-competent, able to do everything required of leaders. Plus, to be fair, sometimes the people they lead expect the same of them. But wise and effective leaders will have done the inner work of leadership, honestly evaluating what they do well and what they don’t do well. When we do this, sometimes this evaluation will lead to additional training and/or coaching so that we can grow in our competencies. But sometimes it’s right for us to say to ourselves and others, “I don’t do that very well. I need some help with this.” 

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Inner Work and the Exercise of Power

No matter where you are when it comes to exercising power, I believe the Lord wants you to do the inner work associated with power. Pay attention to your hungers and fears, your temptations and hesitations. Ask the Lord for the grace to be humble, not by never exercising power, but rather by learning how use your power with genuine humility as you serve others. Above, all, may God grant you the grace to “humble [yourself] under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

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Unmasking Your Desire to be the Solo Hero

We who lead might be tempted to seek our own glory as the solo hero who solves the big problems of our organization. But, though individuals can make a difference through their efforts, that difference is most effective when it involves equipping, encouraging, and supporting others. For this to happen, we who lead need to examine our hearts, to identify and work on any tendencies we might have to want to be the exalted hero. We must learn to empower others and rejoice in their accomplishments.

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The Inner Work of Knowing What You’re Really Seeking

It feels good when people praise us. But sometimes we can be so eager for the approval of people that we neglect the approval of God. The example of the Apostle Paul encourages us to make pleasing God our chief motivation. In order to do this, we need to do the inner work of searching our souls for what we’re really seeking in life and leadership. 

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When Ash Wednesday Falls On Valentine’s Day

In Psalm 103 there’s a profound relationship between our dustiness and our belovedness. Because God loves us, God sees us in all of our sinful, mortal dustiness, yet has compassion for us. Therefore, when we think of love as an attribute of God, we can make a connection between Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. When we receive the imposition of ashes and hear it said, “You are dust, and to dust you will return,” yes, we’re reminded of our mortality. But we can also remember that God has compassion for us because we are dust. God’s love for us, the powerful, deep, abiding love revealed through the cross of Christ, is right there with us in all of our dustiness.

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Make Your Way to the Balcony

If you want to do the inner work of leadership, if you want to see yourself with new clarity and perspective, then you need to make your way to the balcony, so to speak. Do whatever helps you to see your life and leadership from a perspective that promotes your growth in wisdom. 

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Pay Attention to Yourself

Ephesians 5:15 invites us to what we in the De Pree Center have been calling “inner work.” Yes, we also should pay attention to our actions. But careful attention will look beneath what we do to what’s going on inside of us. It will examine our thoughts and feelings, our longings and losses, our hopes and fears, our hates and loves. 

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The Inner Work of Ash Wednesday

During the winter of my freshman year of college, I went into the dining hall for lunch. As usual, a half dozen women in official uniforms were standing behind the counter, ready to serve the students.

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Inner Work and Team Leadership: A Personal Example

The example of Nehemiah encourages us to think about how we have done inner work that shapes our leadership. 

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The Inner Work of Leadership for ALPHA

ALPHA friends, Here is a PDF of the slide deck for the workshop I led in Miami. You can download it here. You should…

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Inner Work and Leading a Team

The book of Nehemiah shows that Nehemiah’s effectiveness as a leader wasn’t just a matter of skill or charisma. It was a result of the prayerful inner work he had done at the beginning of the story and continued to do as he was leading the people. There was something about Nehemiah that called forth a positive response from those who chose to follow him. Yes, it had to do with his vision and plan. But it also had to do with his character as a leader people wanted to follow. 

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The opening pages of the book of Nehemiah

The Inner Work of Leadership: The Case of Nehemiah

The book of Nehemiah portrays its central figure, Nehemiah, as a person who gets the job done. We might even say that he demonstrates a bias for action. But it’s essential to note that Nehemiah doesn’t act apart from doing the inner work of leadership. In fact, it would be accurate to say that his activity and success as a leader are founded on his intentional inner work. Moreover, as Nehemiah’s example reminds us, we often do this by setting aside time for an extended conversation with God in which we pour out our hearts and hopes without holding back. In Scripture, prayer is a crucial feature of deep inner work that leads to effective leadership. 

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