August 8, 2017 • Life for Leaders
I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
In Part 1 of this Life for Leaders series “Blessed to be a Blessing: The Leadership Edition,” we began to reflect on Genesis 12:2-3, in which God blesses Abram so that he might be a blessing to others, to “all families of the earth,” in fact. I encouraged you to begin to think of ways you have been blessed as a leader.
Leaders, I believe, are blessed in multiple ways. To put it differently, we who are in positions of leadership have been given many gifts from God. In the moment, it might sometimes appear as if we have earned the prerogatives of leadership, but when we step back and reflect, we realize that all good things ultimately come from God’s hand.
This is not to say we haven’t played a significant role in the shaping of our life and leadership. Yet, beneath our activity we see God’s grace. I’m reminded of how the Apostle Paul talks about his ministry in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them – though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Here is a paradox we mustn’t seek to avoid. On the one hand, we who lead are what we are by God’s grace. Yet this grace leads us to work hard. Yet even our hard work is a manifestation of God’s grace in our lives. So, we ought to see all that we have been given as leaders as divine blessings, even as we acknowledge our efforts in stewarding this grace.
Here’s an example. One of the ways I exercise my leadership in my work is through these Life for Leaders devotions. To whatever extent you are influenced through my writing, this is an exercise of leadership. Now, it’s true that I work hard on these devotions. I study the biblical text carefully. I read commentaries and Bible dictionaries. I take time to reflect on what I’ve discovered. I try to write clearly so as to help my readers to engage with Scripture and the God who inspired it. All of this is hard work.
But my efforts are only part of the story, and they must be seen in light of the wider story. That story includes natural gifts with which I was born, not to mention the blessings of being raised in a faithful Christian family and a wonderful church. I have been blessed with wonderful educational opportunities supported by the generosity of those who funded the scholarships and fellowships that made my education possible. My devotions reflect years of pastoral experience, the gifts of friends and fellow disciples who walked with me and helped me become a wiser and better pastor. Life for Leaders would not happen apart from the support of Fuller Seminary and the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. Not only am I paid to do this work and encouraged in it by my superiors, but I am also helped immensely by those who handle the technical details of publishing these devotions. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Without the manifold blessings of God, I would not be writing this devotion and you would not be reading it.
What a joy and privilege to receive and steward God’s blessings!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you think about your leadership, can you share the perspective of Paul? In what ways has God blessed you for your work? In what ways do you contribute through your hard work?
What are some of the major blessings of your life that enable you to do what you do as a leader?
Gracious God, thank you for how you make your goodness known in our lives. Thank you for the grace that enables us to work, to serve, to lead. Thank you for all of the ways you have blessed us so that we might be where we are today. Thank you for the health, strength, and discipline that enable us to work hard in faithfulness to your call.
Lord, help me to see more clearly the ways you have blessed me. Help me to be more consistently grateful to you. Help me to use well these gifts so that I might bless you and bless those you have entrusted to me. Amen.
This post originally published on September 14, 2015.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Our Work Is Not in Vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)
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.