Working with Divine Image Bearers

By Mark D. Roberts

August 16, 2015

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

In my earlier reflection “Seeing All People in Light of God’s Image”, we saw how the biblical story of each person bearing God’s image stood out in a culture that tended to reserve this image only for people of exceptional power. We began to consider how the fact that all people are created in God’s image might shape our behavior and challenge our own cultural practices.

As you probably know, I direct the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary. This center was founded in honor of Max De Pree, a highly regarded leader in business and the non-profit world. Max’s leadership of the world-class furniture company Herman Miller was legendary and inspirational. He shared many of his leadership insights through his writings, including the bestselling book Leadership Is an Art. In this book, Max highlighted the significance of Genesis 1:26-27 in his life and work: “First, as a Christian I believe each person is made in the image of God. For those of us who have received the gift of leadership from the people we lead, this belief has enormous implications” (p. 63). For Max, among these implications is the valuing of the unique gifts of every person. One could trace the phenomenal success of Herman Miller to the company’s commitment to this very implication.

I wonder what would happen in our work if we took seriously the fact that every human being is made in the image of God. How might this truth affect our relationships with our colleagues? Our subordinates? Our bosses? Our customers? Our competitors? How might we re-envision the purpose of our labors, departments, and organizations?

Today, I’m going to try an experiment. Perhaps you’ll want to join me. I’m going to keep close at hand a reminder of Genesis 1:26-27. This reminder will stay where I can see it as I go about today’s business. Moreover, before every meeting I have today, I’m going to ask the Lord to help me see each person with whom I interact as someone created in God’s own image. I am curious to see how this practice will make a difference in my life and leadership today. Perhaps you’d like to participate in this experiment too.


How might the truth that all people are created in God’s image make a difference in your work today? How might it shape your leadership?

Are you willing to join me in the experiment I just proposed? (If so, I’d love hear about your experience.)


Gracious God, it’s one thing for me to believe that all people are created in your image, and quite another thing for me to act as if this were true. Help me this day, to remember the truth of Genesis 1:26-27. Help me to see everyone I encounter as a reflection of you. By your grace, may I treat them accordingly, offering hospitality, showing kindness, listening well, bestowing honor. Let the truth of your Word fill my life today . . . and every day. Amen.

P.S. While Mark is on vacation for two weeks in August, we are running “greatest hits” devotions from the past year. New devotions will return on August 26. This devotional was originally published on May 2, 2015.

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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