October 16, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Colossians 3:17 (NRSV)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I’ve come to believe that acting “in the name of Jesus” is fundamentally about acting in congruence with Jesus’s character and mission. What mattered to me as a business owner was that my employees understood what we wanted to do as a company (our mission) and who we intended to be as a company (our character). So, as followers of Jesus, we need to thoughtfully reflect God’s mission and character in our everyday work.
My family name is on the door of the company I founded. Originally, it had two names, including that of a good friend of mine, who co-founded the company with me. After he retired, the name was changed to its present form—Computer Human Interaction, LLC, or CHI-LLC for short.
There’s something about having your name on your company that changes things. You probably know the saying, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” Well, when it’s your name on the door, it is personal.
I’ve found this helpful, as I’ve thought about what it means to do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” For one thing, it means that God’s reputation is at stake in our everyday work. My reputation was at stake every day in what people who worked with and for me did or didn’t do. For better or for worse, their attitudes and behaviors affect how the rest of the world perceived me. Owning a company is a profound act of faith in your employees. As Max De Pree wisely said about leadership more generally, we “abandon ourselves to the gifts of others.”
As a result, I’ve come to believe that acting “in the name of Jesus” is fundamentally about acting in congruence with Jesus’s character and mission. What mattered to me as a business owner was that my employees understood what we wanted to do as a company (our mission) and who we intended to be as a company (our character). So, as followers of Jesus, we need to thoughtfully reflect God’s mission and character in our everyday work.
That wasn’t easy for the folks who worked for me. There were multitudes of complex decisions and issues that needed resolution daily. That’s why it was important for my people to know me personally and to know my vision for the company and the values, which both energized and constrained its work. While I entered into some decisions personally, as you can imagine, I didn’t make most of them myself. It was important for my employees (and incidentally for me) that they internalized the mission and character of the company in a way that I didn’t have to make most of the decisions for them. In the end, they needed to learn what it meant to act faithfully “in the name of CHI-LLC.”
I think this is a helpful metaphor for our doing “everything, in word and deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus.” As Christians, that’s why our spiritual disciplines of prayer, studying the Scriptures, engaging in common worship with the Body of Christ, etc., are so important. These disciplines are intended to help us get to know the person “behind the name” that we have taken for ourselves. They are to direct our work toward his mission and to give fidelity to the character of our work.
And, this metaphor helps me understand why there is often mystery in our pilgrimage. Like the patriarch Jacob, we are called to wrestle with God and with the circumstances that are before us. No doubt, God could intervene more directly, but our ability to internalize his mission and character is often shaped in the crucible of our wrestling. And, like Jacob, our identity (and name!) is positively reshaped as a result, even though we leave the experience limping.
What does doing everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus” mean to you? In what ways have you seen it affect what you do or say?
In whatever leadership role you play, how do the people you lead affect your reputation? How do you feel about your reputation being at risk based on the attitudes and actions of others? What insight does that give you about what God’s concerns might be for what you do and say “in Jesus’s name”?
What spiritual disciplines are helpful to you in getting to know the person “behind the name” of Jesus? What have you learned recently about Jesus’s mission or character through those disciplines?
Practice a spiritual discipline to help guide your leadership and your work.
Pray for the people who work with you.
Lord Jesus Christ, I am grateful for the great risk you take in allowing us to speak and act in your name. Knowing humanity’s brokenness, I’m not sure I would be willing to do so if I were you.
But you have set aside your privilege and taken the risk of giving us the keys to your kingdom. You have put at risk the name that is above every other name with the likes of us. We are humbled beyond words. We are left speechless.
Help us to walk worthy of the name by which we are called. Let us not take your name in vain by our words or by our deeds. May we stand before you on that final day and bring glory to your name.
To you who is able to keep us from falling, and to make us stand without blemish in the presence of your glory with rejoicing.
Through you, Lord Jesus Christ, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
This post was originally published on January 16, 2016.
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. Commmentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Doing Our Work as for the Lord (Colossians 3:17, 23)
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During his adult life, Uli Chi has lived and worked in the intersection between business, the academy and the church. He has had the privilege of serving as past Board Chair of Regent College in Vancouver, BC, as current Vice Chair of the Board of the Max De Pree Leadership Center at Fuller Seminary, and as current Chair of the Executive Committee of the Center for Integrity in Business at Seattle Pacific University. He has also been involved in all aspects of local church leadership, including as a member of the adult ministries team’s teaching faculty at John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle.
Click here to view Uli’s profile.