If I may be honest, as a leader, I struggle with leading by faith. I don’t always mind the faith trials that are just between God and me. At least in these scenarios, my losses are directly tied to personal calculations that I was willing to absorb—I knew what I was getting into. Leading by faith can feel overwhelming because the decisions we make in faith have very real impacts on the people who follow us.
Recently, my Life for Leaders devotions have been focusing on Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32, what I’ve been calling “The Prayer of a Humble Leader.” So far, we’ve seen Jacob’s admission of his unworthiness to receive God’s love and faithfulness, that which has allowed him to flourish in his life and leadership. Yesterday, we reflected on Jacob’s honest confession of fear and how this encourages us to be more honest with God. Today, I want to focus on two other aspects of Jacob’s humble prayer.
In the previous devotion, I focused on the first part of Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32:10-12. There, he acknowledged before God that he was not worthy of the love and faithfulness that God had shown him (v. 10). The foundation of humility for a leader is an awareness that what we have has been given to us because of God’s grace.
In Genesis, Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, became a wealthy man with a large family. He accomplished what men in his day yearned for: progeny, possessions, and honor.
For the last few days, I’ve used a passage from Genesis 28 to reflect on God’s presence in our workplace. Even as Jacob was impressed by God’s presence in a place he did not expect to find it, so it can be with us in our offices, shops, classrooms, and boardrooms.
Today, I want to continue reflecting with you on Genesis 28:16, “Surely the LORD is in this place – and I did not know it!” In the previous edition of Life for Leaders, I suggested that the language of God “showing up” in special ways runs the risk of implying that God is not present in ordinary times and places. We who think this way may need to recognize, along with Jacob, “Surely the LORD is in this place — and I did not know it!”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we examined the story in Genesis 28, in which Jacob has an encounter with the Lord in an unexpected place. After this experience of God, Jacob says, “Surely the LORD is in this place – and I did not know it!” (28:16). As I reflected on this verse, I suggested that one place God surprises us with his presence is our workplace.
Have you ever been surprised by God’s presence? Has God ever “shown up” when you didn’t expect him?
As I step back from the particular story of Isaac and Rebekah’s incompetent leadership and its sorry results, I’m struck by the fact that God used this family, warts and all, in his plan and purpose. God acted in and through their mistakes and misdeeds to accomplish his will. How amazing! How gracious!
Genesis 27 painfully reveals a case of leadership gone wrong. One might say it’s an example of a lack of leadership. Leadership happens in this passage, but it isn’t good.