What Does God Look for in a Leader? Part 4

By Mark D. Roberts

July 27, 2017

These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.”

Genesis 6:9


Business colleagues walking together.This week, we’ve been examining Genesis 6:9 from the perspective of leadership. In particular, we’ve been asking what God looks for in a leader, since God chose Noah for a crucial leadership task. Presumably, Noah exemplifies some of what God values in leadership. So far, we’ve seen that God wants a leader whose relationships are shaped by God’s own priorities (“righteous”) and who is a person of integrity and wholeness (“blameless”). Today, we focus on the third attribute of Noah that fit him for godly leadership.

Not only was Noah “righteous” and “blameless,” but also he “walked with God.” We have recently seen this description applied to Enoch (5:22). Now the same thing is said of Noah. In biblical Hebrew, walking is often used as a metaphor for active living. We might say a person has adopted a lifestyle or is practicing a way of life whereas biblical writers would say that a person walks in a certain way. So, walking with God implies an ongoing, intentional practice. Noah didn’t just spend a few moments with God when it was convenient for him to do so. Rather, he walked with God: regularly, willfully, and faithfully.

The image of Noah walking with God also suggests intimacy. When two friends go on a long walk, they often talk about the deeper things of life, sharing thoughts and feelings they don’t often reveal to others. Similarly, the notion of Noah walking with God implies that he knew God well and vice versa. These days, we might say that Noah had a deep, personal relationship with God, even a kind of friendship. As the story of Noah progresses in Genesis, we see God revealing his secret plans to Noah, thus enabling Noah to be the leader God needed him to be. This is the sort of thing that happens when two friends walk together.

It’s not hard to see why God would look for a leader who walked with him. God would certainly prefer a leader who knew God’s mind and heart, one who had regularly spent time with God and listened to God. Such a person would be able to lead in God-honoring ways. He or she would be attentive to God’s truths as revealed in Scripture and God’s voice as revealed through the Spirit.

Because we tend to see the world with an unbiblical division between the sacred and the secular, we might be tempted to think that pastors, missionaries, and other religious leaders need to walk with God, while failing to see how important walking with God is for all leaders who seek to honor God in their lives and work. But, increasingly, Christians are coming to see the world – and their work – as God sees it. We are recognizing that our leadership, whether in church or business, in the community or in a non-profit, in arts or education, should be an expression of our relationship with God through Christ. Thus, whether you are running a corporation, beginning a startup, pastoring a church, coaching your kid’s soccer team, or seeking to be a good mom, you would be well served to follow Noah’s example and walk with God each day.


Can you think of times when your relationship with God made a difference in your leadership? When? How did this happen and what difference did it make?

What helps you experience intimacy with God?


Gracious God, thank you for the example of Noah who walked with you. He reminds me that my leadership must also be grounded in my relationship with you. Help me, Lord, to invest in this relationship. Help me as well to make my work an outgrowth of my walk with you, rather than something separate. As I seek to walk with you, may you reveal to me how I can lead in a way that honors you and advances your kingdom purposes. Amen.


This post originally published on August 6, 2015.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryThe Purpose of the Sabbath, Part 2

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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