September 25, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Ephesians 1:18-19a (NIV)
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
The Apostle Paul prays that not that God will do anything new, but instead that the Ephesians will see what God has already done.
At the beginning of the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul prays for the fledgling church. In these prayers at the beginning of the various epistles, we get to see what Paul hopes for these churches. It is his way of laying out for his people what future he hopes for them.
This prayer has four parts. The first part is the prayer and the other three parts are the “why.” “I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be enlightened” so that you will know three things. We are only going to focus on that first part. Our tendency is to jump ahead and to look at the three things that the apostle wants the church to see. But that is not the point. The point is that Paul does not want God to do a new thing. God does not need to create the three things at the end of the prayer. The point is that God has already done it; it’s just that the church cannot see it.
This insight – from reflecting on this passage – changed the way I pray. One Lent, I created a spiritual discipline (one that I ended up continuing long after the forty days of Lent had ended). I decided to start every prayer for that period by thanking God for what God had already done. And I don’t just mean to say, “Thank you God for fulfilling the request I made last week.” I mean thanking God for things like sending His Son to live, and die, and to rise again…for sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and in the church so that we Christians could be bound together in koinonia…for providing me with a community of believers (especially my family and my small group) who bear me up even when I am not that interested in being supported. Every day for those forty days I would start my prayers that way.
And I found I did not want to stop after Easter. I found that starting with what God has done changed the way I approached asking for things. You see, it is easy to take a “what have you done for me lately?” approach to God. And that is only possible if I choose to forget that God sent His Son or that God planted His Holy Spirit within me, or that God continues to provide a community of faith.
And such a way of praying also changed the way that I see God at work in the world – especially in the marketplace. It is easy to see myself as a small cog stuck in a very large machine – and thus to assume that I cannot really influence the big picture. But that is the point. It is not my job to influence the big picture. God has already done that. My responsibility is to provide a faithful perspective for the people God puts in front of me.
Thus, I pray for you what Paul prayed for the Ephesians: that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what God has already done. That will change everything.
Pause now and ask what God has already done.
What is the big picture where God has acted in history to make it possible for you to live in hope with Him?
What is the personal story of how God has acted in your own life?
What has God already done and how does that change how you see the world?
Decide on one thing you will do differently or one person you will see differently because of reflecting on what God has already done.
God, please remind me. Remind me each day of what you have already done. Remind of how you sent Your Son to live and die and rise again – and that you did it so that I might share life with you. Remind me that you sent your Holy Spirit to dwell in me so that I would never be apart from your love. And remind of the community that you have given me to bear my burdens. And teach me how to live in light of that glorious knowledge. In the name of the Son you sent for me, Amen.
A Note from Mark
I am pleased to introduce you to the writer of today’s devotion. The Rev. Dr. Scott Cormode is the Hugh De Pree Professor of Leadership Development at Fuller Seminary. In this role, Scott works as a professor in the School of Theology and a key advisor/thought leader at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where I work. (Hugh was Max’s brother, by the way.)
Scott is also the author of a brand new book, The Innovative Church: How Leaders and Their Congregations Can Adapt in an Ever-changing World. In this book Scott helps to answer a crucial and timely question: “How do we maintain a rock-solid commitment to the unchanging Christian gospel, while at the same time create innovative ways to express that gospel to an ever-changing world?” I’m excited about this book and eager for you to get to know it. So I asked Scott to write several Life for Leaders devotions based on The Innovative Church. Today’s devotion is the first of four that will run this week and next. I know you’ll be challenged and encouraged by Scott’s writing here in Life for Leaders as well as in his new book.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Scott Cormode is a senior fellow at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and is the Hugh De Pree Associate Professor of Leadership Development at Fuller Seminary. The Hugh De Pree faculty chair was established by the family of the late Hugh De Pree, an accomplished leader and former CEO of Herman Miller, Inc., and brother of Max De Pree.
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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. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Grand Plan: A Theological Vision (Ephesians 1:1–3:21)