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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?
God is mysterious. That sentence is difficult for me to write. Writing that sentence is an act of surrender. It is an admission that I have to let some things be and trust God anyway. I cannot know the answers to all my questions about why God allows some things, yet seems to intervene in others. Apparently, I don’t need to know all the answers if my faith is meant to mean anything at all. The mystery, it would seem, is the habitat in which faith thrives and grows strong.
Oh, how difficult it is to realize we’ve been wrong about something! For so many of us, it’s quite painful to let go of a long-held understanding of one thing in order to make room for a more expansive perspective or (and this is the worst) an opposing viewpoint on one thing or another.
The writer of Psalm 79 envisions God’s future activity along the lines of an action movie. The bad guys are the nations who have conquered Israel, defiling God’s temple, destroying Jerusalem, and slaughtering the people. Yet the Israelites will not pay back those who have scorned them. Rather, Psalm 79 calls out for God to be the hero who pours out his wrath on the nations and saves his people.
It’s harder and harder to trust these days. Partly, this is due to the epidemic of cynicism that plagues our society. But, our cynicism comes as the institutions and individuals we once counted on turn out to be untrustworthy. Yet, even in our cynical age, there is something in us that looks, even yearns for something truly reliable, something that we can truly count on.
With occasional oases of hope, the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah are a desert of divine judgment. But then, beginning with Isaiah 40, the tone changes. Though the Lord is still a God of justice and judgment, emphasis is placed on restoration and renewal.
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