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.

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Your Work and God’s Glory, Part 1

In yesterday’s installment of Life for Leaders, I considered how the centrality of work in Genesis 1-2 is consistent with the traditional affirmation that the “chief end of man” is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Work is one way, perhaps even the main way, we can glorify God in this life.

This may sound confusing if you tend to think of glorifying God as what we do in church when we sing praises to God. No question, this counts as glorifying God. But there is so much more to glorifying God than praising God, no matter how essential and wonderful this might be.

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Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 3

As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, Genesis 1-2 reveals God’s intentions for human life. God created us to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion, to till/serve and to keep/care for the garden. In a nutshell, we were made to work. Genesis 2:1-3 implies but does not state that we are also to rest one day a week. That leaves six other days for work.

If Genesis 1-2 were all the Scripture we had, we would rightly conclude that work is our chief purpose in life (if you include raising children as part of work). The other 1187 chapters of the Bible give us a wider perspective on what we’re to do as human beings. But, still, we should understand that work is an essential and central element of human existence.

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Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 2

In yesterday’s devotion, I asked the question, “Does work really matter to God? Or is recent Christian interest in faith and work just a fad?” One way to answer this question is to see if work is truly central to biblical revelation. Does work figure prominently in Scripture, in God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration? Or is it just a minor theme, something inessential?

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Does Work Really Matter to God? Part 1

For many years of my life, I have been involved in what has been called the “faith at work” movement (now, more often, “faith and work”). At the center of this Christian movement is the conviction that work is essential to our lives, our calling, and our purpose for being. “Work matters to God” is a mantra among my colleagues in so-called marketplace ministries.

For decades, the faith and work movement thrived on the periphery of Christian life. Most churches offered little to support members in relationship to their daily work. Most pastors never preached on work, except perhaps to warn listeners about the dangers of materialism or other temptations of the workplace.

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Seeing Beauty for the First Time

I’ve been trying to remember the first time I saw beauty. Oh, I know as a young boy I saw many beautiful things, sunsets, mountains, ocean waves, and the like. But I don’t remember feeling awed by their beauty. What I do remember vividly is my first trip to New England in the fall. I was four years old when my parents took me to visit my grandparents in Connecticut. From there, we made a trip up to New Hampshire and Vermont. I was astounded by the brilliant fall colors, especially the deep red of maple leaves. For the first time in my life, near as I can recall, I saw beauty. I was awestruck by it.

In our recent examination of Genesis 1-2, I saw beauty in the text for the first time.

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Should Christians Ever Be Sad?

I grew up in a culture, church, and family that didn’t have much room for sadness. If people in my life were feeling sad, it was my responsibility to “cheer them up.” As a Christian, I knew I was supposed to “Rejoice in the Lord, always!” God was the one who wiped away every tear. Thus, sadness was inconsistent, not only with the cultural norms of my tribe, but also with our understanding of authentic Christianity. Real Christians were happy, not sad. They always had smiles on their faces. And they certainly didn’t flood their bed with tears.

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God’s World: Very Good but Unfinished

Today I want to continue reflecting with you on major themes from the creation narrative in Genesis 1-2.

Six times in Genesis 1 God saw that what he has made was good. Then, after creating humankind, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (1:31). This verse, along with theological reflection on the perfection of God, has suggested to many that God made the world perfect. How could a holy God create anything less than perfect?

Yet, Genesis is clear that God’s world was not perfect in the sense of being complete.

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Let My Heart Be Moved by the Things That Move the Heart of God

Bob Pierce used to say, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” As this happened in Pierce’s life, he acted, seeking to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, and care for the orphan. In 1950, Bob Pierce’s God-inspired broken heart led him to found World Vision International, a Christian humanitarian organization that has touched millions of children and adults throughout the world.

Pierce’s desire to have his heart broken by the things that break God’s heart is inspiring and challenging. I pray that God would help me to have such a tender, vulnerable heart. As I reflect on the opening chapters of Genesis, I find myself asking for something similar, but even broader. I’m asking that my heart be moved by the things that move the heart of God. I want to care about what God cares about, to love what God loves, to value what God values, to delight in that which delights the heart of God.

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It’s Not about You…Mainly

Today I begin a few days of concluding reflections on Genesis 1-2. As I sit back and consider what speaks incisively to me from these chapters, I’m reminded of the first sentence in Rick Warren’s bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.” He explains, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

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A Solid Foundation for Living and Leading

If I have counted correctly, this is the sixty-fourth Life for Leaders devotion based on the creation narrative in Genesis 1-2. I started on April 6 with Genesis 1:1. Every day since then, except for the Sunday devotions based on the Psalms, I have considered some feature of Genesis 1-2, often pausing for days to focus on a particularly meaningful verse. In case you’re wondering, I do not plan on maintaining this pace as we continue our walk through the rest of Genesis and beyond (though chapter 3 deserves careful attention). I have moved so slowly through Genesis 1-2 because I believe this passage provides a crucial and trustworthy foundation for fruitful living and leading. Since the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, the publisher of these devotions, seeks to “serve leaders so they might flourish in life and leadership,” the foundational truths of Genesis 1-2 deserve the attention they have received here.

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A Perfect Partnership Between Man and Woman in Marriage

If the devotions in Life for Leaders were intended for family life, I would slow down right now and spend several days looking closely at Genesis 2:19-25, since this passage reveals much about God’s intentions for marriage. Given the leadership and work focus of Life for Leaders, however, I’ll offer a few thoughts on this passage before moving on tomorrow.

Genesis 2:19-25 confirms and expands what we saw in verse 18, namely, that God intended a perfect partnership between man and woman, not just in work, but also in family life.

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A Perfect Partnership Between Man and Woman

In Saturday’s Life for Leaders edition, we began to consider how Genesis 2:18 shapes our understanding of the relationship between man and woman. We saw that the woman is to be a “helper” for the man. “Helper” translates the Hebrew word ‘ezer. The most common use of this word throughout Scripture is as a description of God and the assistance God provides. Knowing this, we might rightly wonder if Genesis 2:18 establishes the woman as the superior member of the male-female pair. Is she to be the helper for the man in the way God is our helper?

The phrase “as his partner” qualifies the meaning of “helper.” The Hebrew expression used here means something like “opposite to him” or “corresponding to him.” The woman is not a stronger, wiser, and therefore preeminent version of the man. Rather, she adds distinctive and complementary strengths in the male-female partnership. She is not superior to the man. Nor is she inferior. Rather, the woman is the man’s colleague in the business of tilling and keeping God’s garden (not to mention the work of being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth, 1:28). God intends there to be a perfect partnership between man and woman in the sphere of work, which, in Genesis, includes the realm of the family.

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Praying When We Don’t Have the Words

What is prayer? The most basic answer says that prayer is talking to God. Sometimes we talk to God through singing. Sometimes we talk silently with words that are not actually expressed. But, for most of us, most of the time, prayer is talking to God.

Yet, there are times when our words fail us. These may be times of ecstasy when we cannot find words to communicate our joy (for example 1 Peter 1:8). More commonly, we run out of words in times of turmoil and struggle, times when we feel discouraged and hopeless. Can we pray in times like these, without words?

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What in the World is a “Helpmeet”?

When I was a young Christian, I remember hearing that a wife was to be a “helpmeet” to her husband. I thought that sounded strange and I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. In my juvenile understanding, I heard the word as “help-meat.” Perhaps wives were to help their husbands by preparing the meat for dinner. At any rate, I did get the sense that “helpmeet” meant something like “junior assistant.” The “helpmeet” wife did menial labor under the authority of her superior husband.

In my boyhood, I did not know that the odd word “helpmeet” comes from Scripture, from Genesis 2:18, in fact. The King James Version of this verse reads, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” When “help” and “meet” are blurred together, you get “helpmeet.”

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A Surprising Twist in the Story

As we have already seen, Genesis 2 tells the story of creation in a different way from Genesis 1. One main difference is the way in which the creation of human beings is portrayed. In Genesis 1, God creates humankind in God’s own image as male and female (1:27). The text suggests, but does not require, that man and woman were created at the same time. In Genesis 2, however, God creates the man first, adding the woman later. If we were unfamiliar with Genesis, this might be a bit surprising.

But far more surprising, in my opinion, is the way God sets up the creation of woman. One of the main emphases in Genesis 1 is the goodness of creation. Six times God saw what he had made as “good.” Then, after the creation of human beings, God saw “everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (1:31). Yet, in the narrative of Genesis 2, the first time God evaluated creation he noted something that is “not good” (2:18). This is what God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”

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