July 31, 2017 • Life for Leaders
These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.”
In yesterday’s reflection, I suggested that leaders need to walk with God on the balcony. I was intentionally mixing metaphors. Genesis 6:9 uses the metaphor of walking with God to represent the intimate relationship between Noah and God. Leadership expert, Ronald Heifetz, employs the metaphor of “getting to the balcony” to describe the leader’s need to step back and gain perspective. I proposed that Christian leaders would be well served to combine walking with God and getting to the balcony. We need to develop the regular practice of stepping back from the hustle of ordinary work in order to see things more clearly and systemically. As we do this, we not only reflect on our own, but also with God, sharing our thoughts, feelings, fears, questions, observations, and dreams.
As I think back on my own experience as a leader, I remember a season of life in which I walked with God on the balcony in a fairly regular way (though I didn’t refer to my practice in this way because I had not yet read Heifetz’s work). During several years of my pastorate at Irvine Presbyterian Church, I made it a habit to take a long, prayerful walk on the beach just about once a week. As I set out, I would talk to God about my work and how it was going. I wouldn’t yet ask for God’s help. That would come later. Rather, I talked to God as I might with a wise friend or mentor.
As I reviewed what was going on at work, inevitably I came upon particular challenges or problems. I’d describe these and my queries or strategies. I’d ask God for his guidance, often leaving minutes of quiet as I sought to “listen” to the Lord. Most of the time, what happened as I was quiet was a gentle, almost imperceptible shaping of my mind and heart.
Once in a while, however, a thought would occur to me that was a gift of wisdom from God. I remember, for example, a time when I was asking the Lord what should be the topic of my next sermon series. All of a sudden, an idea occurred to me. It was one I had not thought of before. I immediately sensed it would be great for my flock. I knew that God had given me this bit of wisdom and was filled with gratitude.
In your life, you may not have the chance to take a weekly walk on the beach-balcony with God. But, if you believe this is a priority, you’ll be able to make the time and find the place for your “balcony” conversation with the Lord. I guarantee that it will change your leadership and your life.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you have a consistent practice of “walking with God on the balcony”? If so, how did you come to this practice? If not, how might you get regular time with the Lord to talk through your leadership responsibilities and opportunities?
Gracious God, what a privilege it is to walk with you, to know you, to share life with you, to unburden our hearts to you, to listen to you, and to be guided by you. Help me, Lord, to make regular time to get on the balcony with you, so that you might be Lord of all that I do, and so that my work my flourish under your gracious direction. Amen.
Photo Credit: CC thanks to freeaussiestock.com — walk in the surf.
This post originally published on August 8, 2015.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Exemplary Obedience, Exemplary Faith
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.