The Internet is saturated with information for self-improvement and practical tools and techniques to become a better you. The business sections of bookstores include titles which inform leaders and executives about management skills, vision casting, and team development. Christian markets normally offer the same counsel sprinkled with a few heartfelt stories and accommodating Scriptures. As I grow as a leader, I am convinced that we do not need more tools and techniques about leadership. What we actually need is to humbly, lovingly, consistently, and intentionally engage the hearts and souls of those God has called to leadership.
We need to regularly gift our leaders with the time and space that is needed to pause, rest, reflect, and be present with the Lord without distraction. For to lead well requires regular submission and a humble surrender to God. In his book A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders, Reggie McNeal writes, “The first order of responsibility for spiritual leaders [is] to reflect the heart of God to the people around them…Leaders whose hearts and lives turn out as divine masterpieces help those who are in their sphere of influence become more aware of who God is, understand his engagement with the world, and know how they can participate more fully in his mission of building the kingdom.” Leaders who desire to influence others with integrity over an extended period of time regularly practice surrendering their hearts to God by resting to contemplate long enough to allow themselves to be changed by him. In the quiet moments, God shapes every aspect of our existence as his servants.
He does this by reminding us of his power, while strengthening and using us even in our weaknesses. Because of his supreme power, and not the strength of our efforts, efficiency, giftedness, talents, or those of our team, we can take rest. In the beginning when God spoke his masterpiece into existence, he looked around at the end of the sixth day and acknowledged its perfection. He essentially said, “I have done a great work.” On the seventh day, God finished the work and he rested. From the beginning of time, God himself modeled for us the rhythm of work, appreciating and gaining pleasure from our work, and then resting regularly so that we can go out and work again. For the nature of work—the ability to create, cultivate, grow, and lead— is a part of our divine calling. Just as we are called to work, we are also called to a weekly day’s rest, or Sabbath keeping, acknowledging our human limitations so as not to burn ourselves out, hinder our earthly relationships, or make shameful attempts to usurp God’s authority.