September 11, 2015 • 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.”
As you may recall from a recent Life for Leaders devotion, the people of Shinar got in a mess of trouble with the Lord because they sought to build a giant skyscraper in order to “make a name for” themselves (11:4). God responded to their prideful effort by confusing their language so as to thwart both the building project and their quest for fame.
In Genesis 12 we find similar language with a very different feel. In verse 1, God tells Abram to leave his country and go to “the land that I will show you.” In verse 2, God reveals the benefits for Abram if he obeys: “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” (12:2).
We’ll look at the blessing pieces later. Now, I want to draw our attention to the particular promise, “[I will] make your name great” (12:2). This is very similar to what the builders from Shinar wanted for themselves, a great name, a great reputation. They wanted to be well regarded, to be famous. Yet God judged them and prevented this from happening. A few verses later, however, he promises to do for Abram what he took away from the builders of the tower. Why? What’s the difference?
I expect you can see it right away because it’s not that complicated. The builders wanted to make their name great through their own efforts. God would make Abram’s name great through God’s own efforts. Abram wasn’t seeking personal glory. His job, if you will, was to be responsive and obedient, to do what God called him to do and leave the rest to God.
If God chooses to make your name great, then this is a gift for you to steward wisely. Your focus should not be on your fame, however, but on faithfully doing whatever God has given you to do, the cause of your fame, so to speak. If God chooses instead for you to serve in the background, out of the limelight, then you still have the chance to steward well what God has given you: not a well-known good reputation so much as good work to be done. In doing this work, God is honored and God’s own work in the world advances. What could be more wonderful and encouraging than this?
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever wished you had a “great name”? Why? What did you do with this desire?
What helps you to work faithfully even when you are not getting the accolades you might desire?
Gracious God, as I consider your promise to Abram, I find myself wanting to trust you more with the results of my work. May I serve you in all I do. May I seek to honor you by what I do and how I do it. May my relationships reflect your grace and truth. If, along the way, my name is well regarded and recognized, may I receive this as a gift from you, something to be received with gratitude and stewarded with wisdom.
To you be all the glory, really! Amen.
Photo Credit: Two hands clapping by Stu Willis—CC by-nc-sa 2.0.
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.