The single most important work we do as steward leaders is to seek to know God’s will and pursue it with obedience and excellence. If you agree, let me ask you how many times you have thought or said out loud, ‘If only we knew for certain what God wanted us to do in this situation.’ How can we be certain we can truly know God’s will for us as we seek to lead faithfully?
The Apostle Paul in Romans gives us a rather surprising answer.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~Romans 12:2
I say it is surprising because Evangelicals have a tendency to subjugate the workings of the mind to the passion of the heart and the product of the hands. Yet Paul points directly to a renewed mind as the vehicle through which transformation takes place in us. It is also through this renewal that we can discern God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. Paul creates a stark juxtaposition between the way of thinking that conforms to worldly patterns and the mind that is being renewed in Christ. In other words, when we are thinking correctly, when Spirit-led renewal is dominating our attitudes, perceptions and cognitive faculties, our worldview will look strikingly different than the prevailing way of thinking we see in the world around us.
Conformity is a subtle siren. In our recent book, The Choice, Gary Hoag, Wes Willmer and I proposed that faithful leadership takes a person down what we called the Kingdom Path rather than the Common Path. We were suggesting that the Common Path is synonymous with conformity to the patterns of this world while the Kingdom Path would commit leaders to the ongoing process of the renewing of the mind through the Holy Spirit.
Some have questioned whether this means that we were opposed to measuring outcomes.
I would respond that it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘how’. We must always measure outcomes, but we must do so according to kingdom standards. When our measurements revert to ways of thinking that we have adopted from non-biblical sources, we must raise the question of conformity. The Greek word for conformity is ??????????????? which means ‘taking a shape that identifies you with’ the world. This is a warning that our thinking not become shaped uncritically by the way the world thinks, nor conform unquestioningly to its values, attitudes or norms; including its measurements of success.
Instead, our minds are to be under the continual influence of the Holy Spirit. This word ‘renewal’ is the same word used in Titus 3:5 where the author tells us Christ, “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” The same Spirit that saved us continues to renew us, and that includes our minds as leaders.
If our transformation to the image of Christ comes through such ongoing renewal, and through that renewal we are able to discern God’s will for us and our organization, then perhaps we need to ask some rather unique questions.
- What does it mean for me to have my mind continually renewed by the Holy Spirit?
- Am I seeing this renewal taking place in me? Are others seeing it?
- What old viewpoints, attitudes and beliefs am I holding on to that belie a conformity to the world’s way of thinking?
- How do I put myself in the posture of surrender where the Holy Spirit can do this work of renewal?
- How do I help my team develop practices that keep us open to this ongoing renewal?
Dr. R.Scott Rodin has been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.
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