First Impressions

By Mark D. Roberts

April 6, 2015

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”

Genesis 1:1-2


When was the last time you really wanted to make a good first impression? I experienced this desire a few weeks ago when I journeyed to Holland, Michigan, in order to meet Max De Pree. Max is a legendary leader, beloved mentor, and best-selling author of several books. Leadership Is an Art, Max’s first book, had a marked influence on my own leadership when I read it as a young pastor more than twenty years ago. Thus, I wanted to impress Max as I shared how he had shaped my work as a leader.

Of course, my desire to make a good impression on Max was accentuated by the fact that I was preparing to take on the position of executive director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, a role I began to play officially just last week. I hoped that the person whose name I would steward in my work would believe I was the right person for the job. So, I thought carefully about what I might say to him and the questions I wanted to ask. I re-read several of his books. I fretted about what to wear, not wanting to appear too formal or too casual. First impressions matter and I wanted to make a good one on Max.

In Genesis, we get our first impressions of God. Oh, to be sure, we may have initially heard about God in some way other than reading the opening chapters of the Bible. But, since God chose to make himself known in a uniquely trustworthy way in Scripture, we wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that, in Genesis, God makes his first impression on us. And since God no doubt knows how much first impressions matter, we would do well to pay close attention to how God first makes himself known to us.

Through God’s self-revelation, we learn a great deal, not only about God, but also about the world and all it contains, including ourselves. We see who God is, how God acts, and what God intends for our lives. If we pay close attention to the text, we may very well discover new truths about God and new ways in which our lives matter.

In the next few weeks, we will walk slowly through Genesis 1 and 2, pausing along the way to scrutinize its stirring truths. If you have time today, I would encourage you to read these two chapters for yourself, considering what they reveal about God, about the created world, and about you as a human being. But, whether you have time to read these crucial chapters today or not, I invite you to join me as I amble through them. They set the stage for all that is to follow in Scripture. They are absolutely foundational to right theology and right living. They help us hear God’s call upon our lives in a fresh way. And they have much to say that will inform our understanding and practice of leadership. Genesis 1 and 2 prepare us to know God in truth and serve God with our whole lives, at work and at home, in the marketplace and in church, with our colleagues and our friends, in our neighborhood and throughout the world.


If you were to describe the first impressions God makes in Genesis 1 and 2, what might you say? What adjectives would you use to describe God as revealed in these chapters? What in them helps you to know yourself and your purpose in life? How might you live differently if your life was shaped by Genesis 1 and 2?


God our Creator, thank you for making yourself known to us. Thank you for revealing yourself in creation and in community. Thank you for the first impressions we receive in Genesis 1 and 2, for the way you have made yourself known in these chapters. As we walk through them together, may we know you more truly, more completely, and more intimately. And may we know how we might live in the fullness of life as you intended it to be. May our work as leaders be shaped by our “first impressions” of you.

All praise, glory, and honor be to you, God, creator of heaven and earth. Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

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,...

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