January 8, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Genesis 2:18
It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper as his partner.
If you want to flourish in life, you can’t do it alone. God created you to live, work, and love in community with others. Relationships are essential for human flourishing in every season of life. No matter who you are or what you’re facing in life, remember: Can’t Do It Alone.
This devotion is part of the Life for Leaders series: Can’t Do It Alone.
Do you want to flourish in every part of life, including your daily work? Do you want to live fully and fruitfully as a whole-life disciple of Jesus? Are you eager to live with meaning and joy as you make a difference that matters in the world? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, then I have a simple word of advice: You can’t do it alone.
Oh, to be sure, you can experience joy and gratitude when you’re by yourself. You can use your gifts and talents when you’re alone to make good things. And it’s certainly appropriate for you to set aside time for solitude in order to speak with and listen to God in a quiet way. But if you want to live your best life and if you want to contribute to God’s redemptive work in the world, then you can’t do it alone. You need to do it in relationship with God and people.
We learn this from the opening chapters of the Bible. In Genesis 1, God creates humankind in God’s own image as “male and female” (1:27). Our communal essence reflects God’s own relational nature. We will fulfill God’s plans for us as we work together to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28). In Genesis 2, we see creation from a different perspective. At first, God creates a solitary man. But then God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper as his partner” (2:18). So God creates a woman as a partner for the man. From this foundational story we learn a basic truth that echoes throughout the Scriptures: You can’t do it alone.
Today I’m beginning a new Life for Leaders series called Can’t Do It Alone. This series is, in part, a result of three years of in-depth research into what contributes to human flourishing. I’ve been doing this research in the context of my work on the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Through my examination of dozens of scholarly studies, I’ve discovered that good relationships are absolutely essential if we are going to thrive as we get older. That’s not the whole story, however. Relationships are crucial for living well not just in the third third of life, but also in the first and second thirds. What I’m learning about flourishing as we get older is absolutely relevant to people of all ages. (In fact, research shows that if you want to live well when you’re 80, the most important thing you can do is to develop strong, healthy relationships in mid-life.) So, I’m eager to share with you some truths from Scripture and science that will enrich your life.
But I’m not doing this series alone! (That would be a bit ironic, don’t you think?) In fact, for the next few months the whole De Pree Center team will be working together on the theme Can’t Do It Alone. Though our diverse programs serve diverse people in diverse ways, we are consistently emphasizing and rediscovering the importance of relationships for spiritual growth and whole-life discipleship. Our Road Ahead cohorts, for example, have transformed the lives of participants not only because of the insightful cohort content, but also because the cohorts foster caring, open, supportive, and prayerful community among members. The impressive impact of these cohorts has, in fact, led our team to develop two new cohort programs: Go the Distance and Third Third Flourishing. You can learn more about all of our cohort programs here.
I’d love to see many Life for Leaders readers join one of our cohorts in the future. But the truth of Can’t Do It Alone can make a difference in your life whether you join a cohort or not. I believe this series will help you learn some new things from Scripture about relationships. Moreover, I hope this series will encourage you to reflect upon the relationships of your life and how they might become stronger, healthier, and deeper. I will urge you to share with the people who are central to your life what you’re learning and thinking about because of this series. My ultimate desire, after all, isn’t merely that you think differently about your relationships. I’m praying that this series will enable you to nurture the kind of relationships that will help you and others flourish throughout your lifetime.
As we’ll see from numerous passages of Scripture, this is what God intends for us as human beings. In community with others, we’ll “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” In community with others, we’ll experience the love of God in a deep and abiding way. As it says in 1 John 4:12, “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The more we grow in loving relationships with others, the more we will grow in our relationship with the God whose love for us is greater than any other love we will ever experience.
When you hear the phrase “can’t do it alone,” how do you respond? What do you think? What do you feel?
As you think about the state of your life today, can you relate to being alone in some way? If so, how do you feel about your aloneness? (If, for example, you’re taking time away for prayer, you might feel great about being alone. Intentional times of aloneness aren’t bad.)
What relationships matter most to you in life? You might think about various contexts, such as family, friends, work, church, neighborhood, service, etc.
Are you aware of ways you wish that the relationships of your life were richer, deeper, or stronger? If so, is there anything you might do in response?
Talk with your small group or with someone who is important to you about your relationship(s) and how it (they) matter to you.
Gracious God, thank you for creating us in your image. Thank you for creating us as people in relationship with others. Thank you for all the ways our lives are enriched through our relationships.
Thank you for choosing to be in relationship with us. Thank you for acting by grace to take away that which would keep us far from you. Thank you for making yourself known in Christ and for saving us through Christ.
Help me, Lord, to know you more deeply and truly. Help me to develop deeper and truer relationships with others. In community with you and others, may I live fully and fruitfully for your purposes and glory. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Relationships and Work (Genesis 1:27; 2:18, 21-25).
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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.