God as the Leader Who Defines Reality

April 18, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

One of Max De Pree’s most frequently quoted lines comes from the opening pages of Leadership Is an Art: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.” (p. 11).
 
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” If you’re not familiar with Max’s work, don’t worry. He’s not some New Age guru who thinks we can create our own reality by thinking happy thoughts. For Max, a faithful Christian, our ability as leaders to define reality is shaped and circumscribed by the ultimate definition of reality by God.

All that Good Stuff

April 17, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

Sometime in the last decade or so I started hearing the phrase “all that good stuff.” I think it happened first when I was ordering dinner at a restaurant. The waitress summarized the menu briefly, ending with “and all that good stuff.” Then I heard a television talk show host use the phrase. Pretty soon, it seemed as if a cultural dam broke and torrents of “all that good stuff” came pouring out. Even my dental hygienist used “and all that good stuff” to describe what she was about to do to my mouth. (For the record, I don’t consider any part of getting my teeth cleaned as “good stuff,” expect for the free toothbrush at the end.)

That’s Pretty Good!

April 16, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

After finishing a major project, have you ever stood back, taken in what you have accomplished, and said to yourself, “That’s pretty good”? I’ll admit that I have on numerous occasions, especially after mowing the lawn.

Hearing the Voice of God in Jesus

April 15, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we were reminded to listen to the voice of God, the voice that called creation into existence. Today, I want to reflect upon how we do this in a distinctively Christian way.

Even More Powerful Than E. F. Hutton

April 14, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

In the 1970s, the brokerage firm of E.F. Hutton ran an unforgettable series of TV commercials. The set up was always similar. Two people in a crowded public place are talking about financial matters. One shares the wisdom of some broker. The other person responds, “Well, my broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says . . . .” At that moment, the surrounding crowd is immediately quiet. Everyone leans forward eagerly to hear what E. F. Hutton says. The voiceover explains, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Even as a teenage boy with no interest in financial markets, I learned that E.F. Hutton had a voice worth hearing, a powerful voice, indeed.

God the Worker

April 13, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

Given how familiar I am with the creation narrative in Genesis 1, I find it hard to step back and see it with fresh eyes. Perhaps you can relate. But if I use my imagination, I can gain some perspective. I imagine, for example, how else God might have been introduced to us. We could glimpse a vision like that of Revelation, with God seated on the throne and myriads of heavenly beings worshiping before him. Or we could meet God as the Good Shepherd caring for his sheep. There are so many other possibilities. (If you want a theological wild ride, check out the Enuma Elish, the ancient Babylonian creation account. You’ll see just how different Genesis might have been.)

You Have Resurrection Power

April 12, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

If you’re a Protestant or Roman Catholic Christian, you might worry that my calendar is a week off, since I just offered you the traditional paschal (Easter) greeting. For Christians in the West, last Sunday was Easter. If you’re an Eastern Orthodox believer, however, today is Easter Sunday for you. Throughout this day, you’ll hear the greeting, “Christ is risen!” and respond with “He is risen, indeed!” or “Truly, he is risen.”

But, we might say the paschal greeting is appropriate any day of the year, since we are to live our whole lives in light of the resurrection of Jesus.

So You Think You Have Power?

April 11, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

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.

Will Creativity Empower Me to Be the Master of My Own Universe?

April 10, 2015By Mark D. Roberts

Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, celebrates creativity. The school’s posters proclaim: “Nobody puts creativity in a corner” and “When creativity is a state of being, there are no limits.” A promotional video explains, “Creativity is our foundation.” In another clip, a Lesley professor adds, “Creativity really empowers people to be the masters of their own universe.”
 
I realize that much of this is intentionally exaggerated, but such rhetoric reflects a common tendency to exalt human potential in a way that might actually limit it. Allow me to explain what I mean.