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.”
The next time you’re in a bookstore (yes, they still do exist, especially at airports), I’d encourage you to wander over to the business/leadership section and glance through some leadership books. There will be plenty. I guarantee it. In these books you’ll find lots of different qualities that are considered essential for a leader, such as vision, integrity, wisdom, persistence, experience, guts, and so forth. At some point you may want to ask yourself what you look for in a leader. What are the traits and capabilities that you value most of all in those who assume leadership?
As any gardener knows, while we can plant, fertilize, weed and water, there is another sense in which a garden grows entirely independent of us as human beings. Gardening reminds us that God is the one who is the author and sustainer of life. While we can participate with God in the work of the garden, no gardener I know has any illusions that they “make the garden happen” by themselves.
“Dust you are and to dust you will return.” To me, that’s one of the most familiar lines in all of Scripture. I’ve said this very thing to individuals at least 2,000 times throughout my life. Now, if you’re not familiar with Christian practices related to Ash Wednesday, it probably sounds odd to you. Why would anyone say such a thing to people, not to mention thousands of times? But, if you have participated in an Ash Wednesday service, you realize that when I said to people, “Dust you are and to dust you will return” is in the context of imposing ashes on the foreheads of worshipers.
Cain’s response to God’s question regarding Abel’s whereabouts was troubling for so many reasons. Obviously the murder of one brother by another was a violation of God’s order (as he would later outline through the law). Yet there was another subtle and destructive concept that was played out here… selfishness. After committing a transgression against his brother, Cain essentially declares, “What do I have to do with my brother’s well-being?” or put in another way “Not my problem”. What a bold assertion from a person who had taken the life of another person, even his own brother.
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.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on Jesus’ statement in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath” (CEB). Today, I want to look back at the creation of the Sabbath, focusing on a short passage from Genesis 2.