I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Genesis 12:2-3

 

"Rainbow in My Hand" watercolor by Gwen Meharg
Rainbow in My HandCC 2.5 courtesy of Gwen Meharg.

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.

Beginning with today’s devotion, I want to reflect with you on how “Blessed to be a blessing” speaks to those of us who are in positions of leadership. My reflections won’t be exhaustive so much as suggestive. I’m hoping you’ll take time to think and pray about your own leadership in light of the biblical example of Abram.

In Genesis 12, the Lord speaks to Abram, telling him to leave behind all that gave him security and community in order to go to an unknown land. If Abram obeys, the results will be highly favorable. The Lord says, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (12:2-3). If Abram follows God’s directive, then he will be blessed in numerous ways, including being the source of a great nation, having a great name, and receiving God’s protection. Yet, this blessing is not just for Abram and his clan. Rather, he will be a blessing to others. In fact, through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Not just Abram’s kindred, not just the Jewish people, but all peoples on earth will receive God’s blessing through Abram.

Blessing, in this passage, surely indicates divine favor. But it is favor embodied in specific goods, such as a good reputation. When God says to Abram, “I will bless you,” this means that Abram will receive many tangible gifts from the hand of the Lord. In turn, Abram will pass these on to others. Blessed to be a blessing, indeed.

As we reflect on this passage from Genesis, I’d like to encourage you to think about ways God has blessed you. Surely you can make connections to your personal life (family, friends). But, in particular, I’d urge you to consider how you have been blessed in your leadership and how these blessings can be stewarded and shared with others. On Monday, after Sunday’s psalm-based devotion, we’ll continue this conversation.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

How have you been blessed as a leader? What good things has God given you in your leadership?

How are you sharing your blessings with others through your leadership?

PRAYER:

Gracious God, thank you for this wonderful snippet from Genesis. Here we catch a glimpse of your sovereignty and grace. You chose Abram for your purposes, promising to bless him and make him a blessing to others. Through this story, Lord, we are able to look at our lives from a fresh perspective. Help us to see more clearly the ways in which you have blessed us, so that we might be grateful and so that we might be faithful stewards of these gifts as we bless others. Amen.

 

This post originally published on September 12, 2015.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryAbraham’s Faithfulness Contrasted with the Faithlessness of Babel (Genesis 12:1-3)