July 2, 2015 • Life for Leaders
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . . And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
As I finish up my look back at Genesis 1-2, I want to ask a simple question of this text: “How does God lead?” Since this devotional is called Life for Leaders and since it is published by Fuller Seminary’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, it seems appropriate to reflect a bit on God’s leadership in the biblical account of creation. This is not only a matter of theological curiosity, however. Since we have been created in God’s image and invited to participate in God’s work in the world, then examining God’s way of leading will help us to know how we should lead as well.
The words “leader” or “leadership” do not appear in Genesis 1-2. For the most part, these chapters focus on what God did in creation, with the last verses including human activity as well. Yet, if leadership is a matter of “enabling change over time,” as my colleague Scott Cormode observes, then there is a strong sense in which God leads by creating the heavens and the earth. Moreover, Genesis makes it clear that God envisions a world in which others, namely human beings, will also be change agents. Thus, God could be said to exercise leadership of human beings while inviting them into leadership as well.
Expansive Vision. In Genesis 1-2, God’s leadership is shaped by God’s expansive vision. Creation was not some random activity or divine accident. Rather, it was purposeful action guided by God’s vision for the entire cosmos.
This vision included more than God would do himself, however. In Genesis 1:28, God’s command to the first humans reveals his vision of a world that is filled with produce and people. Yet God did not create such a full, complete world. In Genesis 2, God created the Garden of Eden and put the first man in Eden “to till it and keep it” (2:15). This command reflects a vision of a world that is well tilled and thus optimally productive, something well worth guarding.
Genuine Delegation. Central to God’s vision of the world was the activity of human beings that would help the world to become all that God intended. Thus, God exercised a classic leadership discipline by delegating responsibility to the man and the woman. He gave them work that was essential and that God would not do by himself. This was genuine delegation, not just the appearance of sharing authority and responsibility. (The reality of God’s delegation will hit home when we get to Genesis 3 and see that human sin substantially wounds God’s good creation.)
As human beings, God has delegated to us the responsibility for filling, overseeing, tilling, and protecting the world. Our leadership is one way we respond to what God has given to us to do. Furthermore, as human beings created in God’s image, his example of leadership, with expansive vision and genuine delegation playing central roles, inspires us as we exercise leadership in the part of creation assigned to us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Does it make sense to you to talk in terms of God’s leadership in Genesis 1-2? Why or why not?
In what ways is your leadership shaped by your vision? In what ways do you lead through delegation?
How might God’s example in Genesis 1-2 challenge and inspire your leadership?
Gracious God, as I reflect on the creation story in Genesis, I am struck by how your act of creating reflected your expansive vision for the cosmos. I’m moved by the thought that you didn’t complete the world by yourself, but instead gave human beings the honor and responsibility of being your collaborators. May we be faithful stewards of what you’ve entrusted to us, especially when we have the opportunity to lead. Grant us vision, Lord, that reflects your vision for our work. Help us to delegate wisely, to empower others to share in the work you’ve entrusted to us. 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.