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So what has been forgotten and lost? What can we learn from an older, biblical vision of human work? In today’s text, Paul picks up the original creation story imagery of human work as gardening. While Paul didn’t work in an actual garden, he saw his gospel work imaginatively within that framework.
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.
Meaningful engagement in institutional life – being part of a marriage, a family, a local congregation, a company, a charitable organization, a local community, a city, a state, a nation – is some of the most challenging work we do as human beings. And yet, as today’s text reminds us, that is where God’s word is to be inscribed, “on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.”
What in your journey might you use to recollect who you are and what you are called to do in your work of leadership? Perhaps it’s a photo, a piece of artwork, a book, or a saying. How might you find a place in your workspace for such a reminder?
Our task is to give witness to Jesus as Lord in the midst of the public square. As today’s text reminds us, despite our track record, abandoning the public arena is not an option for faithful disciples. In the context of each of our leadership responsibilities there is a public dimension to our faith. How are we to live it out?
Leadership, for those of us who take the Bible seriously, means connecting our voice with our touch. What we say and how we act are meant to be congruent with one another. Today’s text reminds us that the commandment to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might,” is intended not only for us but for those who follow us –
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.
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