Over the last six years or so, my reading focused decidedly on leadership and “strength finding.” Leadership is a hot topic. Ask anyone in the business world. It has become a whole industry. Just as popular are books about finding and using your strengths in order to work within your “sweet spot.” Books like Good to Great, The Tipping Point, The Dip, and the Strengths Finder series have made swamis out of people like Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, and Marcus Buckingham. I learned a lot from these books and found them fascinating. Yet, amazingly, we are now in the midst of a season where the dirth of leadership could not be more obvious, and despite attempts to move people to work from a place of passion and service, it seems we are more self-centered than ever.
What is the disconnect? I’m not sure I know. But I do know this. After a little time and distance from these books, I’m discovering one significant missing piece. In a wonderful book called When People are Big and God is Small, author and professional counselor Ed Welch focuses on this passage from 2 Corinthians:
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Welch goes on to write
This means that the essence of imaging God is to rejoice in God’s presence, to love him above all else, and to live for his glory, not our own. The most basic question of human existence becomes “How can I bring glory to God?”—not “How will God meet my psychological longings?”
By extension, we might add that the basic question is also not, “How can other people or my work meet my psychological longings?”
This understanding of ourselves as servants of God is practically a foreign concept, perhaps especially in the United States where the “pursuit of happiness” is seen as a right to be fought for to the death–even when we trample others to do so! In truth, our purpose is not about pursuing happiness but about pursuing God–to love him with heart, soul, mind, and spirit, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Obviously, I love to write. But when people ask me, “What do you want to write?” I’m stumped. I don’t have an idea for a great novel. And blank paper freaks me out! But I know this—whether I’m writing the next great character novel like A Prayer for Owen Meaney or writing content for a website, my purpose is to find ways to allow the glory of God to spill over into the pages and into every relationship with every reader, client, or co-worker. When I believe that my purpose and passion are to love God and bear his image through love for others, it plays out in everything I do. And it matters not whether I am using my strengths to lead as a communicator, marketer, and writer—or operating from a point of weakness (bookkeeping!) where I must lean wholly on God to make it through. As Welch says, “Ultimately, the awesome responsibility and glorious privilege of image-bearing is expressed in simple acts of obedience that have eternal implications.”
© 2009 L. Kay Johnson, L is for LaNita. All rights reserved.