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#327 A Flourishing World: Failure is Anticipated

God’s world was beautiful and perfect! It was filled with all the ingredients that would allow flourishing to continue for generations. Yet, while God had created a perfect and flourishing world, He was not caught off guard by the failure of Adam and Eve! As He cursed the serpent, He revealed His plan for ultimate victory, thousands of years before it would happen.  

 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15, NIV).  

Then, after cursing the serpent and the ground, God continues to act in response to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Again, God demonstrates that He was not surprised by their actions.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Genesis 3:21).

God graciously provided leather clothing for Adam and Eve; much more durable than the simple leaves they had used to cover themselves. He put new boundaries in place and provided new direction for Adam to work the ground outside the beautiful garden environment.

Anticipating failure accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

While God did not intend for the first couple to fail, he anticipated it and was prepared for what happened. He could not spare them from the consequences of their sin, but He would provide next steps for them to take.  His intent after their failure was for them to live as fully as possible in a flourishing world. He was ready to help them move past their failure.

In our broken world, we can certainly anticipate failure on a regular basis! Anticipating failure does not mean looking for it in every action or assignment, but it does mean thinking ahead to reflect on what steps may be needed when failure occurs. Serving leaders learn that it is better to be prepared for failure than surprised by it!

 Anticipating failure accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Since the first failure of Adam and Eve, we have had plenty of opportunities to learn from failures! But we are often surprised when we hear stories of leaders who have been caught in a scandal and caught off guard when something doesn’t go as planned.

Many respond to failure with fear and shame. They fear the consequences, the punishment, and the shame of their failure so they cover up failure, deny it or run from it.

Others respond by making failure as their identity. Instead of saying, “I failed” they accept the identity, “I am a failure.” This response provides no productive way forward.

 But serving leaders learn to anticipate failure and prepare well for it. As they do, their teams can flourish. The fear of failure will be replaced by a willingness to anticipate the reality of failure and use it as a part of the learning journey. Serving leaders remind their team that even when they fail, failure is not their identity! Serving leaders anticipate that failure will bring growth to their team.

Anticipating failure accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders learn from Adam and Eve to anticipate failure, first in themselves but also in those they lead. They don’t dwell on failure and don’t encourage it. But they anticipate it and lead their teams to a healthy expectation that there will be failures on the journey. They teach their teams to fail well, not being blindsided by failure and not rejoicing in it but acknowledging it. They lean into failure, design plans to address it and learn from it! By talking about failure and removing the stigma on their team, they accelerate flourishing even in a broken world. Serving leaders cannot recreate the garden of Eden, but as they anticipate failure, they do create a flourishing world in which individuals and teams learn to thrive through failure.

Serving leaders continually cultivate into their leadership all the ingredients needed for a flourishing world. And the result can be seen in the people around them who are flourishing.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has thinking about failure been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization 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 anticipate failure. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to anticipate failure in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll start a new series!

# 326 A Flourishing World: Accountability is Natural

God’s flourishing world included clear standards as we have already observed. God told Adam that there was one tree from which he was not to eat. Sadly, it wasn’t long before that command was broken.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:6-11, NIV).

Adam and Eve knew they were guilty, they quickly hid when they heard God coming. But what would happen because of their action? God calls them and inquires about what happened. The story continues (read Genesis 3:14-24) with God’s response to their disobedience. This exchange between God and the first couple reveals another ingredient God built into His flourishing world, accountability! The standards were clear, and they were held accountable for their actions. Serving leaders learn that accountability is an essential part of their leadership as they cultivate a flourishing world around them.

Accountability accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

At first glance it may appear that God’s intent for accountability was to punish and He clearly explained the consequences of their actions. But His heart was expressed when He asked, “Where are you?” He wanted to restore the relationship that had been broken by disobedience. This restoration could not happen without accountability. By addressing the issue God showed the depth of His love for them and the great value He placed on them. His accountability indicated that their actions mattered! It also showed that His commands mattered! Two-year-old’s quickly learn whether the commands of their parents are followed up with accountability. And when there is no accountability, a spoiled child is the result! Serving leaders create flourishing as they hold people accountable for their actions.

 Accountability accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Since the fall of the first man and woman, we naturally resist accountability. We don’t like to be asked what we did! But serving leaders anticipate a world in which people thrive as they are held accountable in genuinely healthy relationships.  They envision workplaces where everyone understands that their work matters so much that they are accountable. They envision churches where members understand that they are held accountable for expectations. Serving leaders anticipate flourishing as they hold people accountable.  

Accountability accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders recognize that if they are to hold others accountable, they must first be accountable. They accept responsibly for their own actions and ask for forgiveness when they fail. Then they also make it clear that others will also be held accountable. They are not afraid to ask what happened. They are quick to provide opportunity for the relationship to be strengthened through accountability. And as people realize that their actions matter, they step up and flourish! Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by establishing accountability.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of accountability 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 be accountable. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to implement accountability in your home, organization, or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Failure is Anticipated

# 325 A Flourishing World: Growth is expected

A significant part of God’s flourishing world was the marvelous and diverse animal kingdom. God quickly gives Adam an assignment in relation to the animal world.

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals (Genesis 2:19-20, NIV).

The assignment God gave to Adam is profound in so many regards. It sets him apart from the animal world and prepares the stage for God to create a companion suitable for him. It demonstrates God’s expectation that Adam was not a bystander; he was to rule over the creation. This assignment also reveals that God expected Adam to grow and develop. There was work to do and God expected Adam to learn and grow. Scholars and scientists debate over the actual number of animals that Adam needed to name and it’s not likely that he had to name all of the currently known 1.2 million species of animals. Nevertheless, the task was not an assignment for a few minutes or a couple of hours! Serving leaders observe that the expectation of growth is an essential ingredient for a flourishing world.  

Expecting growth accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God brings the animals to Adam and expected Adam to name them. God had created Adam with the capacity to name the animals but now Adam had to grow into this potential and come up with names! God could have given the names to Adam and asked him to memorize them but He wanted Adam to grow. Growth is baked into our DNA and is a natural expectation. We enjoy the clumsy efforts of infants as they learn to walk but we expect them to grow and mature. We anticipate the advancement of knowledge and maturity that comes as children progress through their formal education. And this design for growth is intended to continue our entire lives. Serving leaders acknowledge God’s intent for human growth.  

 Expecting growth accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

God must have smiled as He watched Adam thinking and then speaking out a name! And He imagined a world filled with men and women each stretching and growing, learning to master their domain. But sadly, many people today simply show up at work for a paycheck, not expecting to change or grow. They join churches expecting only to attend meetings and be inspired. Serving leaders look at those they serve and not only see who they are now, but see what they could become. They anticipate the growth of the entry level worker to become a manager. They expect the newest member to grow into a future leader. They dream of their organization being filled with people who are fully alive, learning and growing in their capacity to shape their world.

Expecting growth accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders also realize that God has placed them in a position of leadership to accelerate the process of growth. They first make sure that they are growing themselves, continually seeking to improve and learn. Then they observe that God deliberately gave Adam an assignment to help him grow. Serving leaders take responsibility to serve those they lead by giving challenging assignments that will stretch the capacity of their followers. They encourage, mentor, coach and guide others to reach their full potential. And, like God must have done, they watch with a satisfied smile on their face as they observe others growing and flourishing around them.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of expecting growth 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? In what ways are you growing yourself as a leader?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to expect growth. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to expect growth in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Accountability is Natural.

# 324 A Flourishing World: Relationships are honored

God created a lovely world that was flourishing, alive, and good in every regard. But then, for the first time, something in this world was described as “not good.”

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, NIV).

What was “not good” in the world? Man was created with intrinsic value since he was made in the image of God. Adam was good. But it was “not good” for him to be alone. He was created for relationship with others. We often see this principle as the foundation of marriage since God created a woman to meet this need. But it also points to something much deeper in God’s design, our need for relationships. God was so intent on making sure that we recognize this ingredient for a flourishing world that He allowed a glimpse of what was not good, a person alone! Serving leaders reflect on God’s plan for honoring relationships as a part of His flourishing world.

Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God’s intent was for relationships with others to be a defining characteristic of being human. The first man and first woman were brought into relationship with each other as well as into relationship with God. He designed us to live, work, and walk together with others. Even the most introverted person needs others! It’s not a surprise that solitary confinement is considered one of the most severe punishments or even torture. We are not created to be alone! God’s intent was for each of us to find meaning, value, and purpose in relationship to others. In our families of origin, He designed relationships in which we form identity, a sense of belonging, and value. As we relate to others, we are able to build capacity for deep, authentic relationships that bring joy and meaning to what we do.

 Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Sin brought so much pain and brokenness to relationships that many have concluded that it may be better to be alone. And some cultures value independence over interdependence. But serving leaders recognize that honoring relationships is a part of God’s design. They see their business, church, family, and community as places that God intends for people to thrive with strong, healthy relationships. They envision a world in which strong teams work together in harmony to accomplish great things.

Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders acknowledge that there are many leadership implications to honoring relationships. First, they seek to enter into and maintain strong healthy personal relationships. They seek out authentic friendships and resist the temptation to isolate themselves from others. Then, they seek to lead those they serve into healthy relationships. They build teams and lead them through the process of discovering how to balance honesty and kindness.  They look for the person isolated outside the circle and seek to pull them in. They encourage the quiet people to speak out and find their voice. Serving leaders acknowledge that accomplishment of the vision will only happen when relationships are honored. So, they encourage time not just to accomplish tasks but also to build relationships. Serving leaders look for results, but they don’t overlook relationships. They create environments in which people flourish together in strong, healthy relationships.

Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by honoring relationships.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of honoring relationships 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 honor relationships. What is the current level of health in relationships on your team? Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to honor relationships in your home, organization, or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Growth is Expected

#323 A Flourishing World: Standards are Defined

April 27, 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Relationships are Honored

#322 A Flourishing World: Work is purposeful

April 13, 2022

God created a flourishing world abounding with life and beauty. He created abundant plants and all kinds of animals and then added humans made in His own image. God assigned specific roles to the man and woman.

 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 1:28, 2:15, NIV)

God assigned Adam and Eve work that was purposeful. He told them to “fill the earth,” to “subdue” and “rule over” the creation, to “work it” and “take care of it.” God designed work with meaning and purpose as an ingredient for a flourishing world. The fall recorded in Genesis 3 distorted this design and added sweat and struggle to Adam’s work. Serving leaders work to restore God’s original design in the places they lead by helping those they lead find purpose in their work.

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God’s intent was for Adam and Eve to develop and shape the world He had created. They were to bring forth food from the earth. But they were also to imagine and dream of ways that the creation could be shaped to bring forth more beauty and productivity. God gave man the responsibility to investigate, invent, plan and develop the world. There was gold and minerals in the earth that needed to be discovered and shaped into useful products. And they were to do all this as God’s representatives. Their work was an extension of His work!

Serving leaders recognize that God put a desire for meaningful work deep in the DNA of every person. No one enjoys work simply to pay bills and survive. Every business idea, every invention, every discovery made by man is intended to add value to God’s world and to help people flourish. And because of this, the work of each individual should be filled with purpose.

 Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Many people see work as a necessary evil or just a means to make money but God’s design was far higher than this. People are not just money-making machines. They are created to contribute their gifts and passions to help create a world that flourishes.

Serving leaders imagine companies, communities and homes in which every person contributes their part to a meaningful whole. They imagine a workplace where people bring their whole selves to the task at hand, where people contribute ideas for improvements and where their opinions matter. They envision a company where even the person doing the lowest job understands that their work is making a difference in the world. In this flourishing world creativity is released, imaginations are inspired, and great value is added to the world.  

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders acknowledge that purposeful work is not the norm. They realize that they will need to work hard to make their world flourish. They begin by clearly defining the great purpose for which their organization exists. They shift the focus from the production of a product or service to the change they will bring to the world. Then, they work hard to communicate this purpose to everyone in the organization until each person understands how their work contributes to the purpose. They share stories of the impact the business or organization is making in the world. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by filling work with purpose.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of purposeful work 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 for work to be purposeful. Write at least three reflections.

Think about the organization you lead. What is its purpose? Do you have a clearly defined statement of why you exist? Do the people you lead understand why their work matters in the world? Do you talk as much about the purpose as you talk about finances?

What action steps will you take as a leader to bring purpose to the work in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Standards are Defined

#321 A Flourishing World: Diversity is Affirmed

April 6, 2022

A second ingredient in a world that flourishes is that diversity is affirmed. God created a world that was beautiful and flourishing…and diverse!

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)

From the beginning God created all people in His image giving them immense worth. All were created in God’s image; but not all were created identical. “Male and female he created them.”  God’s creation was built with diversity and in His design flourishing happens when this diversity is affirmed.  

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God created them “male and female.” What was His intent? Why didn’t God simply duplicate the man? Why did He instead create a different person and at the same time, a distinct gender? Take a moment to imagine a world filled with only men. Now imagine a world with only women. What would these worlds be like? It doesn’t take an advanced degree to realize that either option would not lead to flourishing! God built differences into His design to help us realize that we are not complete as individuals. The unique value of each individual could not be fully expressed if every person were the same. Diversity is needed. God built diversity into His universe so that we recognize our need for others. This is part of the reason that all humans long for community and relationships with others. When we enter into relationships with others we more fully reflect God’s image and our diversity produces a flourishing world. Serving leaders affirm God’s design for diversity and acknowledge that they will not be complete alone.

 Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Our world is filled with diversity, but we often let differences divide rather than complement. We allow differences to become points of tension and conflict instead of strengths. Wars are fought between different tribes and nations. People more often fight over their differences than celebrate them. Different groups fight for their rights. Different personalities stir up division and separation instead of cooperation and unity. But serving leaders look to God’s design and imagine a world in which diversity is affirmed. They dream of homes where both men and women are equally valued and appreciated. They envision organizations where healthy teams bring their diversity to the table and join hands to work together to accomplish much more, much better and much more quickly than individual efforts could produce. And serving leaders dream of this flourishing cascading from one family to the next, from one church to the next and from one business to the next.

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders recognize that action is needed for diversity to be affirmed. They don’t simply tolerate diversity; they welcome it! They first acknowledge their own need for others. They understand that there are no well rounded leaders, but there are well rounded teams. So they invite others to their team who are complementary but very different. They work hard to affirm and appreciate the unique perspectives and contributions of each individual. They focus on the unique strengths each person brings to their team and serve by helping them find the right place for those gifts to be expressed. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by affirming diversity.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of affirming diversity 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 affirm diversity. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to affirm diversity in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Work is Purposeful

#320 A Flourishing World: People are valued

March 16, 2022

The first ingredient in a world that flourishes is that people are valued. God created a marvelous world, filled with animals, plants and amazing beauty. All His creation had value. But the people He created had infinitely more value.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  (Genesis 1:26, NIV)

God’s design set humans apart from the animal kingdom and He gives them a place of authority over the rest of creation. The value He placed on people created a flourishing world and leaders reflect deeply on how valuing people impacts the way they lead.  

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

The Genesis account reveals the profound intent of God when He created humans, “Let us make mankind in our image…” He created humans with His own image stamped into their DNA. A library of books could not fully explain His intent. But God placed people at the pinnacle of His beautiful creation and gives them intrinsic worth and purpose. His image is reflected in the creativity of humans, their sense of justice, their capacity to love, their ability to dream and plan and communicate. Their value is a part of who they are, it is not simply related to their physical appearance or ability to produce or contribute. They have value because they are human! Leaders who look at their people and value only what they will produce for the team miss the value of their team as humans. Serving leaders look at people and see a reflection of the image of God in each one. They see the potential and worth of each individual no matter their status or rank.

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

What would a world look like where every person was seen as a unique and valuable person as God intended? Serving leaders envision a world in which people bring their best selves to work every day, fully engaged, passionate about what they are doing, thinking about ways to improve, engaging in healthy exchange of ideas, and able to use their best judgement to make decisions. We can scarcely imagine the productivity and potential that would be unleashed in even one organization where this was true. And what would a community look like where there were many companies, churches and homes that were truly valuing people?  Serving leaders envision this world and lead in ways that value people more than production or profit. Serving leaders imagine that their church or business can be a place where people are valued as God intended from the beginning and they see the ripple effects flowing into families and nations.  

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders accept the challenge to value people and seek first to live into this reality in their own leadership. They stop and talk with the person cleaning the floor. They get to know those they lead as real people who have names, families, children and dreams. They encourage people to be creative and call forth the best in others believing that there is hidden potential in every human being. Serving leaders are willing to take a risk to hire a worker that has been rejected by society because they see the value in every human. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by valuing people.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How has the intent of valuing people been distorted in your context? In what ways are people devalued? 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 value people. Write at least three reflections.
  • What action steps will you take as a leader to value people in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Diversity is Affirmed

#319 A Flourishing World: God’s Design

March 3, 2022

God designed our world to flourish. Not to simply exist or survive, but to thrive! He created a flourishing world.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:1, 20, 31, NIV)

What an amazing picture of the world! There was provision, abundance, thriving, multiplication, life, health, harmony and beauty. It was filled with luscious green trees, beautiful flowers and was teeming with life, it was a flourishing world!  This was the design of the creator.

In this series we’ll look at the ingredients serving leaders cultivate to create a flourishing world. First, they reflect on the significance of God’s design for flourishing.

God’s design accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

The flourishing world God created was soon fundamentally changed when sin entered the picture, but His intent did not change. His design was built into the DNA of the universe! Just as God created an environment designed to produce life and growth, leaders who understand God’s design partner with Him in restoring this flourishing world. Serving leaders acknowledge God’s intent as they create and shape and environments that reflect His design for flourishing.  

God’s design accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

What does a flourishing world look like in a business, a church, a factory, or school? When people are flourishing, they stand taller and straighter. They walk with more confidence and take appropriate authority over the work that is in their domain. They understand the significance of their work. They find pleasure and satisfaction in what they are doing and increasingly contribute more of the unique gifts they possess. They think of ways to improve and freely share their ideas. They grow and become more fully alive. The impact of this flourishing extends far beyond the workplace, it reaches into the homes and communities where they live. Around them, they encourage others to grow and flourish.  Serving leaders anticipate the difference flourishing would make in those they serve and do all they can to create an environment that will encourage them to flourish.

God’s design accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

What does God’s design imply for leaders? Serving leaders look for and expect flourishing in their organizations. Numbers and statistics are not their ultimate goal; flourishing is! They measure success by people who are standing taller and growing. Serving leaders also accept their role in the process. Just as God created an environment that produced flourishing, leaders are responsible to create and shape a similar environment. Leaders are like farmers that add nutrients to the soil so the seeds will grow well. Serving leaders accept their role as the ones who will focus on the “soil” in their organization and keep adding nutrients until everyone is thriving. What are those nutrients? We’ll examine one ingredient in each of the issues in this series. 

Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by understanding God’s design.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the first chapter of Genesis seeking to grasp the beauty of God’s design. Then answer the questions below.
  • How has the intent of God’s design 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 follow God’s design. Write at least three reflections.
  • What action steps will you take as a leader to implement God’s design in your home, organization, or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then 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,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at the next ingredient of a flourishing world: People are Valued

#318 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “What are you doing to finish well?”

 February 16, 2022

Serving leaders reflect on how they will finish to keep their own focus on the right areas. But they quickly turn to serve those they lead by also encouraging them to think about finishing well. Although leaders are often further along in their own life journey than those they lead, they consider the implications of Paul’s words for those they lead as well.

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV).

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the cost in mind.

“I am already being poured out like a drink offering…” Paul does not hide the cost of serving leadership, it is a giving up and pouring out. Leadership is costly. But his focus on finishing well makes the cost worthwhile. Serving leaders want the best for those they lead so they ask for a high level of commitment. They call others to personal and professional growth as well as higher levels of responsibility. But they acknowledge that more responsibility will require more discipline, effort, and focus. While they understand that not everyone is willing to pay the price, they invite those who follow to be willing to pay the costs by asking them to reflect on the long term instead of the short term.  

Serving leaders remind those they lead that the cost they pay today will bring benefits tomorrow.    

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the end in mind.

 “The time for my departure is near.”  Paul was aware that the time he had was short. But he was confident that because he had lived well, he would also finish well. He lived his entire life with the end in mind. He nearly lost his life several times when he was stoned, beaten and shipwrecked.  He may have been surprised that he lived this long! Because he lived with the end in mind, he did not fear the end. Serving leaders help those they lead to keep the end in mind. While there are current tasks that need to be done, serving leaders ask questions about the future. “Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?” “What will it look like if you keep developing your strengths for the next 10 years?” “What are you doing now to ensure strong family relationships in the future?” Questions like these help followers to focus not only on the tasks for today, but on the targets for tomorrow.  

Serving leaders remind those they lead that long term gains are more important than short term successes.

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the rewards in mind.  

“There is in store for me the crown…”  Paul was able to look ahead at the prize that was the reward of a life well lived. This perspective made the pain of being “poured out” worthwhile. He was able to finish well by keeping the rewards in mind.  Serving leaders do not ignore the need for short term rewards. But they serve those they lead by helping them focus on the long-term rewards of finishing well.

Serving leaders remind those they lead that the most significant rewards come at the end of a life well lived.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What costs am I asking those who follow me to pay? Have I been open about what it costs to grow as a leader? How can I encourage those who are growing to reflect on the long term instead of the short term?  How do I respond to those who are not willing to pay the price of growing?        
  • What am I doing to help those who follow to focus on long term gains? What questions should I be asking those I lead to help them gain a long-term perspective? When will I talk with someone about this?
  • Has my leadership focused on short-term rewards or long term? How can I keep the needed short-term rewards but help those I lead focus on the rewards that come from a lifetime of living well?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a new topic.