January 3, 2017 • Life for Leaders
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
A Letter of Thanks and Invitation from Mark Roberts
Dear Life for Leaders Reader,
First of all, thank you for subscribing to Life for Leaders. My writing team (Uli, Deidra, Breon, Tim) and I feel honored by and grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts, hearts, and prayers with you.
Last year was encouraging for us, partly because of the kind emails and comments we received from you, and partly because we welcomed many new subscribers. After twenty-one months of existence, Life for Leaders now serves over 3,800 people each day. Thanks be to God! And thanks also to you for letting your friends, colleagues, family members, small group partners, and parishioners know about Life for Leaders.
In fact, one way you could help us in 2017 is by telling others about us. If you find Life for Leaders valuable, please let other people know. I’ve been particularly encouraged recently to learn that some pastors have adopted Life for Leaders as the daily devotional for their churches. We love serving churches in this way and it helps spread the word about Life for Leaders.
You may already be aware of an exciting new Life for Leaders feature added in 2016. Now, we are offering Life for Leaders small group study and personal devotional guides. These are based on the daily devotions, but with lots of material added. Currently, we have group and personal guides focusing on three themes:
- Success and Failure: Timely Wisdom from the Life of Joseph
- Work, Worship, and the End of God’s Story
- Practicing the Presence of God at Work
These are available at the Church & Marketplace store, a new program of the De Pree Center. You can download PDFs of the guides from the store for a modest price. Or, if you join the Church & Marketplace network at no cost, you get six months of free downloads. Check out Church & Marketplace here.
Finally, I want to thank those of you who have begun to financially support the work of Fuller’s De Pree Center. As you know, we offer Life for Leaders daily devotions, many Church & Marketplace materials and events, and other resources without cost. We are able to do this because of financial support we receive from foundations and individual donors, as well as the overall support of Fuller Seminary. If you would like to become a financial partner with Fuller and the De Pree Center, your help would be much appreciated. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d be glad to pursue this possibility with you.
Blessings to you in 2017!
In John 6, Jesus’s popularity among the people spiked. “A great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed” (6:2). Many of them wanted to pronounce Jesus as their king (6:15). But Jesus’s teaching was not easy for them to digest (6:41). How could the human being they knew say that he “came down from heaven”? (6:42). Before long, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (6:66).
At this point, Jesus said to the Twelve, the inner circle of his disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (6:67). Simon Peter spoke up for the group, saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (6:68). Even if Jesus’s teachings were hard, they were, nevertheless, unique in offering access to eternal life, the life of God’s future, the abundant life found through faith in Christ, life as it was meant to be. From Peter’s point of view, it would have been foolish to leave Jesus. (Of course, later on, Peter himself abandoned Jesus for a while. But we’re getting ahead of the story.)
When we hear about Jesus’s “words of eternal life,” we tend to think that these are words that get us to Heaven. There is some truth in this interpretation, though it misses much of what is meant by “eternal life.” Eternal life is not just the life of the future. And it’s not just endless life without death. Rather, eternal life is the life of the age to come, the life of God’s future. Yes, it will be fully experienced in the future. But eternal life is something we can begin to know right now, in this mortal life. Through faith, through the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, through the community of God’s people, through the life of God in us, we receive a foretaste of eternal life, the heavenly banquet that is to come.
Thus, Jesus’s words offer life, not just after death, but right now. They help us to live more abundantly, more meaningfully, more joyfully now . . . even at work, even in the demands of our leadership responsibilities, even when this world is broken, even when we mourn, even when we feel as if death has defeated life.
Life for Leaders, both the daily devotional and the thematic group and personal guides, is designed to help you experience the life that comes from the Word of God. You can know this life as you let biblical truth permeate your mind and heart, and as you live it each day, at work and at home, in your community and in your church, among your friends and your family. I pray that, in 2017, Life for Leaders will help you to discover anew the “words of eternal life” that Jesus offers to you.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have you experienced biblical truth as “words of eternal life” for you?
Can you think of something you learned from Scripture in the last year that has made a real difference in your life? And in your leadership?
In what part of your life do you need the “words of eternal life” today?
Gracious God, how we thank you for the “words of eternal life” spoken by Jesus and offered throughout your written Word. Thank you for the ways you have given us life through Scripture.
Help us, Lord Jesus, to embrace you and your words. May we not leave you because your words are hard, or because our lives are hard. May we cling to you, knowing that you alone have the words of eternal life. May your life be alive in us each day, in all that we do, including our work and our leadership. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary.
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.