April 26, 2022
God’s creation was awesome, a beautiful place filled with life and beauty. People were valued, diversity was affirmed, and work was purposeful. Animals, plants and humans flourished as they interacted freely. In this environment, God added some clear instructions.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV)
God created a world of freedom, but he also created boundaries. He set standards as an integral ingredient for a flourishing world. Serving leaders likewise define clear standards for those they lead.
Defined standards accelerate flourishing by acknowledging the intent.
Why did God restrict the freedom He gave to Adam? Was He trying to limit Adam’s enjoyment of good fruit? This question was at the heart of the enemies’ question which would soon bring the fall of mankind. God’s intent was not to restrict but to reveal boundaries. God wanted Adam to flourish by living within the standards God established. He knew that breaking the standard would bring death, the opposite of flourishing. Serving leaders define standards for the same reason; they want their world to flourish. Their intent is not to restrict freedom but to encourage flourishing.
Defined standards accelerate flourishing by anticipating the impact.
Although our fallen nature resents being told what to do, we also know intuitively that our world flourishes with appropriate boundaries. We have speed limits and traffic rules for a good reason. We have laws against theft that are designed to protect us and our property. We understand that a 2-year-old child will not thrive unless they understand the meaning of “no!” Societies flourish when they uphold common understanding of what actions are acceptable and which ones are not. Yet our culture resists the concept of shared standards. It sounds great to say “Whatever works for you is okay” but the results are chaotic. The same is true in churches and businesses where the standards are not clearly defined. Serving leaders reflect on God’s design and seek to implement clearly defined standards in their own sphere of influence. They envision strong teams flourishing as everyone shares the same standards and is held accountable to those standards. Serving leaders recognize the internal desire that most have to meet the expectations that are set for them. So, they raise the expectations high and expect people to rise to the challenge.
Defined standards accelerate flourishing by accepting the implications.
Serving leaders accept their responsibility to define standards for those they lead. This is often expressed in clearly defined values. Serving leaders work hard to identify the values that will define their organization and then clarify what those values look like in actual behaviors. They talk to the team about what the values mean and tell stories of those who are living out the values. They raise the bar by defining what the standards are and holding everyone, including themselves, accountable to them. Serving leaders do not overlook a violation of the standards. They take corrective action to bring change, preferably a change of behavior. Where there is an unwillingness to change behavior, the serving leader may release that person from the organization. They serve the organization by defining and upholding the standards. As they do so, people flourish!
For further reflection and discussion:
How has the intent of defined standards been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?
Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to live by the defined values or standards. Write at least three reflections.
What action steps will you take as a leader to define values or standards in your home, organization or community? What will you do to communicate these values to everyone? What stories will you tell that illustrate the values being lived out? List 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.
Until next time, yours on the journey,
In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Relationships are Honored