July 6, 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.”
Genesis 1:1; Genesis 2:25
Today, I finish three editions of Life for Leaders that focus on God’s own leadership. So far, we have seen that God’s leadership in Genesis 1-2 is characterized by expansive vision, genuine delegation, empowering direction, and gracious prohibition. Today we’ll add generous provision and consistent collaboration.
Generous Provision. As we saw last month, God provides generously what the first humans need to thrive in their life and work. In Genesis 2:16, God tells the man that he might “freely eat of every tree of the garden,” except, of course, for one. There is a sense of generosity here, of abundance, even of more than enough. God didn’t just give us enough to sustain life. God gave us what we need and much more, trees with ample fruit, trees with diverse, tasty treats, trees that are also beautiful to behold and cooling to sit beneath.
As a leader, God provides what we need to flourish in our work. In our leadership, we should do the same for those we lead. In Leadership Is an Art, Max De Pree writes, “Leaders should leave behind them assets and a legacy. First, consider assets; certainly leaders owe assets. Leaders owe their institutions vital financial health, and the relationships and reputation that enable continuity of that financial health. Leaders must deliver to their organizations the appropriate services, products, tools, and equipment that people in the organization need in order to be accountable” (p. 13). Knowing Max, I think he would also agree that leaders should generously provide their people with what they need to excel in their work, to develop their gifts, and to become fully the people God made them to be.
Consistent Collaboration. The more I study Genesis 1-2, the more I am amazed at how God chooses to collaborate with human beings. God creates a “very good” world and then basically turns it over to us. Looking beyond the creation narrative, when we mess up God’s masterpiece, God still chooses to work with and through us in the restoration of all things.
But the collaboration we see in Genesis 1-2 isn’t just between people and God. It’s also shared among human beings. In Genesis 1, collaboration is implied in God’s creation of man as male and female, giving to the first humans the directive to be fruitful, multiply, and so forth. In Genesis 2, God creates the man and puts him in the garden to till and keep it. But then, God says that it is not good for the man to be alone. The man needs a helper, a partner, a colleague, a collaborator. God creates woman from man as his partner. Here is the beginning of human community. Here is the basic rationale for human collaboration. We were created to work, not alone, but together.
Thus, as leaders, we ought to lead collaboratively as well as create contexts for consistent collaboration among those we lead. Again, I turn to Max De Pree in Leadership Is an Art: “Leaders need to foster environments and work processes within which people can develop high-quality relationships—relationships with each other, relationships with the group with which we work, relationships with our clients and customers” (p. 25). These relationships encourage profound collaboration in work, which in turn encourages great effectiveness and productivity in the workplace.
As I have examined Genesis 1-2 from the perspective of leadership, I have been struck by God’s expansive vision, genuine delegation, empowering direction, gracious prohibition, generous provision, and consistent collaboration. I expect there is much more to be discovered here about leadership. If you see things in the text that I have missed, I’d love to hear from you.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of ways that your leadership involves generous provision for those you lead? How does this help them to work well?
Do you ever think of your work as collaboration with God? How might this perspective affect the way your work?
How do you collaborate with others in your leadership? Who are your key collaborators? How do they strengthen your leadership? Are there ways you could be more fruitful if you were to collaborate more consistently with others?
Gracious God, once again we thank you for your example of leadership in the creation story of Genesis 1-2. We have so much to learn from you!
Thank you for giving us more than we need to flourish in our life and leadership. Thank you for choosing to collaborate with us. What an honor! What a wonder! What a responsibility!
Help us, Lord, to follow your leadership in every part of life and to model our leadership on your example.
Finally, thank you for all we’ve learned in Genesis 1-2. The richness, depth, and relevance of your Word is amazing. 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.