If you’ve been hanging around Christians for very long, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Blessed to be a blessing.” It’s the sort of thing that Christians say when they realize just how much God has given to them. The phrase shows up on posters and trinkets in Christian bookstores. It is sometimes bandied about on Christian television and radio. “Blessed to be a blessing” seems almost cliché, a phrase not to be used by thoughtful believers. But, not only does this phrase come to us from Scripture, from Genesis 12:2-3, to be specific, but also “Blessed to be a blessing” epitomizes a crucial truth of the Christian life . . . and also Christian leadership.
Have you ever heard the name Herman Miller? Chances are you have. Herman Miller is the name of one of the most successful and influential furniture manufacturers in the world. Based in Zeeland, Michigan, Herman Miller serves customers in over 100 countries. The company is well known, not only for its furniture but also for its exceptional commitment to its employees as well as to the common good.
All of us engage in work each day, whether or not that work receives financial compensation. We sell products, build houses, teach students, mow lawns, govern cities, supervise staff, preach sermons, carve sculptures, and change diapers. Why? What motivates us to do our work . . . really?
I mentioned yesterday that when we think of living coram deo, some of us immediately think of our sin and how we displease God who looks upon us. This is one part of what it means to live before God. But I would suggest that an even more important and powerful aspect of living coram deo has to do with delighting God, giving God pleasure through what we do.
According to classic Christian theology, we live our lives coram deo, literally, “before God.” God is present with us, not just in our religious activity or our private lives, but everywhere. Our entire lives, including our work as leaders, are coram deo, “before God.” Thus, we have a choice about how we will live coram deo.
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.
In today’s reflection I want to suggest a practice that will enrich your leadership. I’m calling it “walking with God on the balcony.” Yes, this is a classic mixed metaphor. But I think it might bring together two practices that are essential for leaders.
This week, we’ve been examining Genesis 6:9 from the perspective of leadership. In particular, we’ve been asking what God looks for in a leader, since God chose Noah for a crucial leadership task. Presumably, Noah exemplifies some of what God values in leadership. So far, we’ve seen that God wants a leader whose relationships are shaped by God’s own priorities (“righteous”) and who is a person of integrity and wholeness (“blameless”). Today, we focus on the third attribute of Noah that fit him for godly leadership.
Today, we move to the second quality that God valued in Noah, and which accounts for Noah’s promotion to senior leadership in God’s kingdom. According to the NRSV translation of Genesis 6:9, Noah was also “blameless in his generation.” He stood out from all other people in being “blameless.” But what does this really mean?
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began to consider the question: What does God look for in a leader? A succinct answer can be found in Genesis 6:9, in a description of Noah, to whom God will assign one of the most important leadership tasks in all of human history. According to this verse, the reason that Noah “found favor in the sight of the LORD,” and therefore was chosen to save the creatures of the earth, was this: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God.”
Today, I want to focus on what it means that Noah was a “righteous man.”