When a leader prays, “Thy will be done…”

Man praying

Used with permission.

Do you ever stop to think that some day you and your staff will be together in heaven and you will have no power or authority over them? They will not be obligated to you, in fear of you, or in any way bound to you as a leader. Does that have implications for how you lead your staff now? It should!

The ideal

In God’s kingdom, we know from Galatians 3:28 that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gender, ethnicity and power will not be divisive factors in heaven. My race, education, gender, and any other human attribute I have, will not give me any right to assert power or authority over anyone else. We will all stand before God as equals, the only variation in our position being whatever rewards we receive for faithfulness while living here on earth. That’s the way it is in the kingdom of heaven. That’s the way it is when God rules, when his will is done.

The challenge

Given that, I find it an awesome thing to pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” because I can just imagine God’s natural first response to my prayer being, “Well, John, let’s start with you.  How well are you doing my will? Does the workplace over which you ‘rule’ look like the kingdom over which I rule?”

Oops! I can’t very well say, “Actually Lord, I was thinking of everyone else.” As a leader, I need to remember that “to whom much is given, much is expected” and that as a leader, I have the power and authority to actually ensure that the organization I lead exemplifies God’s will.

So how godly an atmosphere do we have at CCCC? How godly are our relationships with other ministries, suppliers and those in authority over us (such as our board)? If Jesus were to return now for a few years to serve as an employee at CCCC, would he fit in with our culture and way of being? Would he be able to say of my leadership, “John reminds me of myself?” Would Jesus be willing to stay under my leadership or would he soon be looking for some other ministry leader to share his talents and gifts with?

And then, what about when we all get to heaven? I wonder, with millions and millions of people in heaven to spend time with, will my staff members find any time at all in the endless eons of eternity to voluntarily spend a few minutes with me? If new teams are formed in heaven, would my staff want me as a teammate?

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Download discussion guide

Moving toward the ideal

If I am really praying that God’s will would be done on earth now as it is already being done in heaven, then I should make sure that all relationships are based upon godly character, including love and respect, and a desire to serve and bless.

Thoughts like these led me to write a leadership philosophy in 2004 that I still agree with today. It draws upon a Trinitarian theology in which, according to many leading theologians, the inner workings of the Trinity are a model for relationships between members of God’s people.

The CEO is not over the team but part of the team, on the same basis that every staff person is part of the team. Just as the three Persons of the Trinity are all equally God, so every staff person is equally a team member. And just as each member of the Trinity has distinct roles and functions, so each member of the CCCC team has distinct roles and functions. The reason for distinct roles and functions is that, to get work done effectively and efficiently, specialization is needed. Work is assigned in order to take advantage of how God has equipped individual team members. But whenever there is specialization, there is also a need for direction so that order is maintained. The specialty work must be integrated into the work of the whole team and coordinated with the work of other specialists. Someone must take responsibility for directing the team’s work and thus there must be, even among peers, some form of hierarchy. This does not lessen the fact that team members are peers and, as Paul wrote, fellow-workers. The Greek word for ‘fellow-worker’ is synergon (syn means ‘with’, erg means ‘work’, on signifies ‘person’) from which we get our English word ‘synergy’ which means we accomplish more working together than we do working separately.

This Christmas, as I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I remember that he came to inaugurate God’s kingdom and that the best way I can honour Jesus is to allow God’s rule to govern my life. I am honouring Jesus when my “rule” at CCCC exemplifies God’s rule and life in the kingdom.

What a blessing it is to have the teammates I have who can work with me and together share in the accomplishment of our mission.

Merry Christmas!

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