As I prepared to write this article about strategy, I couldn’t help but think about God’s ultimate strategy – restoration. God’s goal for all time has been to bring you and me home to him. We had a great start with God. Read the beginning of our story:
Genesis 1:26-28 reads “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.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 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.’”
Being created in the image of God was a great way for the human race to begin! We are the only created being created in the image of the Creator. But sin entered the world when Adam and Eve wanted to be like God and caused the break in the relationship with God. We now live in a “Genesis 3” world – a world where a relationship with the Father must be restored. But restoration has always been God’s great strategy.
Nature reveals God’s passion toward restoration. You know that to be true even in your own body. Have you have ever had a broken arm or leg? You may have had a cast and crutches, but over time it gets better and totally heals. A cut on your hand that can be so painful will heal in a matter of days. I have seen hurricanes devastate an area and in just a few weeks, fields of wild flowers in full bloom lined the highway with color. Restoration.
And then there’s you. And me. Broken from the beginning. God’s great restoration strategy was Jesus. Jesus death, resurrection and ascension was the only way to return us to our original value. Jesus made a way for us to come home; to get back to our Father. The ultimate strategy becomes our ultimate hope!
“God’s ultimate strategy continues even today.”
Let’s look at how the strategy began. When Jesus came to earth as a baby (you know the story), he emptied himself of his divine privileges and became a man. Can you imagine that he who named the stars had to learn to talk? Can you imagine such a strategy? Even though he was fully God, he set aside his deity. Jesus came to restore a broken world to the Father. Jesus had one number one strategy. He reveals his strategy in John 5:19, “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.’” His number one strategy was to watch whatever the Father was doing and do it! In John 17:4, Jesus confirmed, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”
In his humanity, Jesus modeled how life could be lived by one who is filled with the Holy Spirit and intimately connected with the Father. He is our model and the way by which we live this life. Restoration. In his book, Beautiful Outlaw (FaithWords, 2011), John Eldredge writes, “Jesus stands first in the line of humanity that God is restoring. He is not merely a model – that would be unreachable, crushing. He is the means by which God is restoring our humanity. That is what Christianity is supposed to do to a person. This happens as His life invades ours.” God wants his creation restored back to him!
God’s ultimate strategy continues even today. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
At this point, we became a part of the strategy and a messenger of hope. What I see more clearly now is that God’s restoration strategy to bring us to himself is the ultimate plan that impacts all our strategies. Knowing that we lack the ability, wisdom, and stamina to complete the work we have been called to do is a path to humility.
New York Times writer, David Brooks, wrote, “Humility is not thinking lowly of yourself, but accurately about yourself. It is an adequate view of your own nature and a realization you are not equipped to perform the tasks God has asked you to perform.” Thank God for those moments when reality hits and we realize our strategies, our mission are so much bigger than we could ever accomplish on our own. Is there something we could learn about a good strategy from God’s ultimate strategy of restoration? Let’s look at Jesus again.
Jesus reminds us throughout the Gospels of the best strategy to accomplish our goals. Not only did Jesus show us what to do and tell us what to do, but he helps us do it. Again, he is the model we follow and the means by which we can do it. John 15:5 describes how we accomplish our number one strategy, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” This is a familiar verse; maybe too familiar for us to grasp it. We can’t complete a strategy and we won’t accomplish the goal without him. We can do nothing without him. Period.
So, practically how do we plan strategically and yet constantly follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did? It comes down to you. There is no pressure in that statement, only a choice. The thing I love about strategy is that it is intentional, focused and outlines a process to accomplish a goal. The thing I don’t like about strategy is that it can stifle God’s voice and his creativity if we are not deliberately seeking to hear him from beginning to end.
As leaders, our greatest preparation in developing a new strategy or accomplishing the current strategy is choosing to have this vine/branch relationship with Jesus. We study Jesus. Seriously. Have you thought about how smart, strategic, wise and gentle Jesus was even in enemy territory? We choose him. We receive his “no strings attached” love. We spend time with him. We listen and become sensitive to his Holy Spirit so we can identify if interruptions are interruptions or divine moments. We choose a lifestyle that brings glory to God.
Strategy is important in organizational life, but we must remember Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” The most strategic action you can take as leader is simply loving Jesus and allowing him to live his life through you. It is the ultimate strategy.
Phyllis Hennecy Hendry serves as the inaugural President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, a global leadership ministry headquartered in Spartanburg, SC. Under her visionary leadership, the organization has grown exponentially since its founding in 1999, developing and empowering thousands of people throughout the United States and around the world to lead as Jesus led. She is the co-author of the recently released Lead Like Jesus Revisited (Thomas Nelson, 2016). Learn more at (leadlikejesus.com)