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If the Parable of the Sower is about how to listen faithfully, today’s Scripture is the foundational text of what we are to hear. Mark Roberts has written a series of Life for Leaders devotionals on Jesus’ quotation of this text and how it might relate to our work as leaders. I want to add to Mark’s reflections from my own perspective.
Today’s text describes the seed falling into good soil. So, what makes the soil good? As our last set of reflections suggested, part of the answer lies in our giving conscious, sustained and disciplined attention to Jesus’ way of life and leadership. However, this is not merely an exercise in acquiring leadership knowledge or technique. Jesus’ teaching challenges us at the core of our being as leaders.
In Jesus’ explanation of today’s text, he cites “the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” (Mark 4:19) as impediments that keep us from attending to our leadership vocation. It’s easy to hear these as bad, perhaps even immoral, diversions. No doubt, morally compromising temptations exist in every leadership setting. But, I’m not sure that’s all that Jesus meant.
Seeds need three conditions to grow: light, nutrients and water. In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, there are plenty of seeds and more than enough sunlight. In today’s text, the question is whether there is sufficient soil and adequate moisture for the seed to flourish. And, soil and moisture seem to be interrelated.
We have been looking at Jesus’ seminal Parable of the Sower in the context of our work as leaders. In my last reflection, I noted that a Christian vision of human leadership is one where that leadership originates as a gift from outside us. More particularly, truly human leadership is a vocation. Someone else – God – calls us to our work and provides us the necessary gifting to carry out that work. In the language of Jesus’ parable, there is “a sower (who) went out to sow (seed).” (Mark 4:3)
Today’s text explores our response.
As we come to the end of another year, I’d like to suggest that it’s a good time for an annual personal review – a chance to reflect in-depth about the past year and to see how God has been and might yet be at work in our life and work. Psalm 32 is a great foundational text for such a reflective process.
As we celebrate this Advent Season, reminded again of Jesus’ coming into the world, I want to reflect on the distinctive vision and driving force behind God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ. What was the mindset that Jesus brought to his work in the world? And, what might that say to us about our work as leaders?
We’ve all done it. Someone does something that offends us and they come to apologize. And, we say something like, “Oh, never mind. It’s ok.” We’re trying to make the other person feel better by saying that what he or she did didn’t really matter. But of course, that’s not really the case. It did matter. At least, it did to us. And, when we take that tack, we’ve missed something important.
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