April 11, 2015 • Life for Leaders
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.”
A few years ago, the Center for Creative Leadership did a survey on power and leadership. The findings were published in a white paper entitled, “The Role of Power in Effective Leadership.” Among other things, the researchers found that “Most leaders surveyed (94 percent) rated themselves as being moderately to extremely powerful at work.” This makes sense, given the fact that most leaders do in fact have at least some power, otherwise they would not be able to lead. The study also discovered “a notable correlation between leaders’ level in the organization and how powerful they believe themselves to be at work.” Again, lots of common sense here. Leaders, especially executive leaders, have power, often lots of it.
I have known some Christian leaders, however, who have been reticent to acknowledge their power. Or if they own it, they tend to minimize it. Behind their hesitation lies an effort to avoid pride, a desire to be humble. Such a desire is worthy, though I’m not convinced denying our power is the best path to genuine humility.
A better way forward emerges from Genesis 1. There, we see a high-def vision of God’s power. God creates ex nihilo, to borrow the technical Latin expression that means “out of nothing.” God doesn’t take pre-existing stuff and mold it into something new, like we do. Rather, God makes stuff up, literally. God brings creation into existence ex nihilo, out of nothing. Now that’s an impressive display of power.
If this weren’t enough, Genesis also reveals that God created the heavens and the earth. God made the universe and all that is within it, the whole nine yards, as it were. Though I can write these words and you can read them, you and I can only begin to imagine the kind of power that created the universe. We can know for sure that God’s power greatly exceeds anything we could ever imagine.
The more we consider God’s unique and unconstrained power, the more we will be astounded with wonder and brought to our knees in worship. Thus, the power we have been given will be dwarfed by the strength of God. This will be true whether you’re an entrepreneur leading a startup, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the President of the United States.
When we imagine God’s immense power, when we bow in humility before the omnipotent Lord, we are ready to acknowledge our own power without becoming puffed up. We claim our power yet recognize its limitations. We receive our power, not as something we have conquered for ourselves, but rather as a gift from God to be stewarded wisely for God’s purposes.
You think you have power? I expect you’re right. But don’t forget to see your power in light of God’s exceedingly great power.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you have power in your work? In other contexts of living? How do you think about your power? Are you able to acknowledge it? If not, why not? How does thinking about God’s power affect your estimation of your own power? How might God want you to use your power today?
Almighty God, we can only begin to fathom your power. We see the grandeur and scope of creation and marvel that you could make all of this, even out of nothing. How marvelous! How incomprehensible!
As one who has been given a measure of power in this life, help me to see it clearly and acknowledge it honestly. May I see my power in the light of your inestimable might. May I exercise my power as one who bows in worship before you first of all. May I use the power you have entrusted to me for your work, your justice, and your glory.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, King of kings and Lord of lords! 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.
Be still and know Iam God
As a pastor, I find that I have power ex officio, by virtue of my office. I have to be careful not to abuse that power intentionally or, even more easily, accidentally. An offhand remark can create more turmoil or cut more deeply when it comes from Pastor.