September 10, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’”
In yesterday’s edition of Life for Leaders, I talked about growing up in a church that lauded those who heard God’s command to “Go” and went. These heroes of the faith were the missionaries who went to a foreign land or the future pastors who went off to seminary in order to serve the Lord “in full-time Christian work.” The implications of this way of thinking were clear. The rest of us were not serving Christ full-time, or at least not in a fully committed manner. We were in some sense second-class Christians. God could be glorified in our lives, to be sure, but not quite as much as if we heard him say “Go” and literally went.
Of course, it is wonderful that certain people obey when God tells them to “Go.” In no way do I wish to minimize their faithfulness, sacrifice, and courage. But, it’s wrong to take the example of Abram or the specific call of Jesus to his disciples to go throughout the world and create some general principle that says all real disciples need to relocate geographically. Some do; some don’t. It’s equally wrong from a biblical perspective to insist that true disciples must be in “full-time ministry,” that is, earning their living from working for churches, mission agencies, and other Christian non-profits. The Apostle Paul, for example, was never in this sort of “full-time ministry.” Almost always, he worked as a sewer of leather, including leather tents, to support himself and his travels. Paul also used his workplace as a context for building relationships and embodying the gospel.
Abram needed to literally go from his country in order to obey God. The first disciples of Jesus needed to literally go from where they were standing in order to make disciples from all nations. But God may not be calling you and me to go away from where he has placed us already. Our “going,” to use this metaphor, may be more a matter of leaving behind old ways of thinking and acting, “going” to new beliefs and practices.
For example, many of us heed God’s call by “going away” from the idea that our work is somehow second class in God’s eyes. We need to “go to” a new way of seeing our work as part of God’s work in the world, at least potentially. We need to “go away” from seeing discipleship as mainly something we do through “religious actions.” We need to “go to” seeing all of life as a context for following Jesus. Perhaps we need to “go from” thinking of our employees mainly in terms of their economic value and “go to” seeing them as full human beings made in God’s image.
Whether or not you will literally go somewhere today in order to serve the Lord, you have the opportunity to devote all that you are and all that you do to him, to “go away” from disintegration and selfishness as you “go to” an integrated life of service to God.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
In what ways have you sensed God’s call to “go” in your life?
How might you devote more of yourself and more of your work to the Lord today?
Gracious God, thank you for calling each one of us to yourself, for inviting us to come to you. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for inviting us to follow you, for naming us among your disciples.
There are times when you do indeed call us to go somewhere in a literal sense in order to serve you well. When this happens, Lord, may we go in obedience. At other times, you call us to a new way of living in our current setting. Help us to “go” from what is familiar to a life of greater faithfulness and service.
May all I do this day, Lord, honor you and contribute to your work in the world. Amen.
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.