Fuller

Tumbleweeds

September 24, 2020 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – 1 Peter 4:10b (NIV)

…as faithful stewards of God’s grace…

Focus

Christian leaders do not have followers; they have people entrusted to their care.  And sometimes God rolls those people into our lives like tumbleweeds.

Introduction

I am pleased to introduce you to the writer of today’s devotion. The Rev. Dr. Scott Cormode is the Hugh De Pree Professor of Leadership Development at Fuller Seminary. In this role, Scott works as a professor in the School of Theology and a key advisor/thought leader at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where I work. (Hugh was Max’s brother, by the way.)

Scott is also the author of a brand new book, The Innovative Church: How Leaders and Their Congregations Can Adapt in an Ever-changing World. In this book Scott helps to answer a crucial and timely question: “How do we maintain a rock-solid commitment to the unchanging Christian gospel, while at the same time create innovative ways to express that gospel to an ever-changing world?” I’m excited about this book and eager for you to get to know it. So I asked Scott to write several Life for Leaders devotions based on The Innovative Church. Today’s devotion is the first of four that will run this week and next. I know you’ll be challenged and encouraged by Scott’s writing here in Life for Leaders as well as in his new book.

Grace and Peace,

Mark Roberts

Devotion

Christian leaders do not have followers; only Jesus has followers.  This is true of anyone who hopes that their leading will honor Jesus.  Christian leaders don’t have followers; they have people entrusted to their care.

Who, then, are these people entrusted to our care? Sometimes they are the people we choose to serve; thus, a manager may have responsibility for a team of programmers or a retiree may volunteer in a homeless shelter. Often, these people are the people planted right next to us—perhaps in the cubicle across the aisle or in the apartment across the hall. But other times they roll into our lives like tumbleweeds.

I really like this image of tumbleweeds that God blows into our lives. Let me give you a couple of examples. A few years ago, I got an email from my college alma mater. The college wanted to send someone by to see me. I knew this person was likely a fundraiser, and I really did not want to talk to him. But the seminary where I teach was doing its own fundraising, and I thought it might be interesting to see how another school did it. So, the young fundraiser showed up at my office and told me what was happening at my former school.

Then, just as he was about to leave, he looked around my office and casually said, “You have a lot of books about God. Do you mind if I ask you about God?” What was I going to say? “Of course, I’ll talk to you about Jesus.” So, we talked about his struggles and his questions. And I invited him to come back. Over time, he returned about once a month to “talk about God,” and he eventually joined a church and was baptized. At some point, I had to recognize that, even though he was a tumbleweed that blew into my office without warning, he was now one of the people whom God had entrusted to my care. I bore a responsibility for him.

A similar thing happened to my wife. She was at an evening meeting of Bible Study Fellowship, and a woman in her small group needed a ride home. It was on my wife’s way, so she took her. And then the next week, and the next, and the next. And as they drove, my wife discovered the woman’s needs. So, she began to help. This was a tumbleweed that God rolled into my wife’s life. Soon that woman became one of the people entrusted to my wife’s care.

Anyone who is paying biblical attention to this conversation will realize that we have stumbled into one of the most well-known gospel stories. When we ask “Who are the people entrusted to our care?” we end up mimicking the young lawyer’s question to Jesus in Luke 10:29: “Who is my neighbor?” Our calling is nothing more (and nothing less) than loving the neighbor whom God plants nearby.

We must define our neighbor the way that Jesus did. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite are so wrapped up in their own business that they never acknowledge the needs of the hurting man: they decline to be a neighbor to the wounded man; they never acknowledge him as their neighbor.  In the same way, we Christians can get so caught up in our own agendas that we neglect to listen to the people entrusted to our care.

Reflect

Who are the people entrusted to your care?

What tumbleweeds has God blown into your life?

What prevents you from seeing the tumbleweeds God sends your way?

How will you plan so that next time a God sends a tumbleweed you see that person as sent from God for your care?

Act

Make a plan for how you will respond to the next tumbleweed—even if it is inconvenient.

Pray

God, help me see my people as you see my people.  Help me see the people that you entrust to my care for what they are: your beloved children. And give me the grace to care for them, even if it is inconvenient. Amen.


Dr. Scott Cormode is a senior fellow at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and is the Hugh De Pree Associate Professor of Leadership Development at Fuller Seminary. The Hugh De Pree faculty chair was established by the family of the late Hugh De Pree, an accomplished leader and former CEO of Herman Miller, Inc., and brother of Max De Pree.


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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. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Good Samaritan at Work—Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself (Luke 10:25-37)


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