Category Archives: Articles

The Culture of Christ is the Culture of the Kingdom of God

“There is no justification for a leadership that has strayed into the profane of its culture!”

 

Before we start developing today’s  topic, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/12/11/la-cultura-de-cristo-es-la-cultura-del-reino-de-dios/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited.

JOversetreet-valoresReino-ENGJane Overstreet, the author to whom we have referred in previous articles, mentions that after working for more than twenty years with Christian leaders around the world, she has observed that their leadership style is more like the culture in which each leader lives, than really the culture and values ​​of the Kingdom of God.[1]  And she emphatically points out:

“Each culture puts a slightly different mask on those leadership qualities it cherishes, and all our cultures are terribly broken. Perhaps some are significantly worse than others, but none of them accurately reflect God’s values. The values ​​of the kingdom of God are countercultural to every earthly culture. (Overstreet 2011)

Along these lines and for the purposes of this research, we had the opportunity to interview Tope Popoola, a prominent Nigerian leader and author, who regularly gives lectures and consultancies on topics related to leadership, management, marketing, and entrepreneurship in various countries around the world. For Popoola, when asked, what should a Christian leader do so that the culture of Christ prevails in his actions instead of the culture around him. This is what he replied to us:

“The culture of Christ is the culture of the Kingdom of God. Our call is to make Christ known in all spheres of human existence… We are called to bring heaven to earth, not earth to heaven. When we ask ourselves before taking any action, ‘How would Jesus handle this issue?’ and go ahead to do what He would do, regardless of what may be popular or trending, we enforce the culture of Christ. Whoever does it must necessarily die to himself and die towards popular public opinion. The kingdom of God is not a popularity contest! Those who can’t stand something will fall for anything…I’ve had to oppose my culture regarding various traditions. At first it wasn’t easy, but they came to respect me for my decisions.” (Popoola, Interview on Christian Leadership 2020)

Parallel to this important challenge; and in the same way, for the purposes of this research we also carried out a random survey aimed at the Christian public. 118 people participated, from 21 countries, representing the 5 continents.

By asking them, in one of the questions, to rank in priority the characteristics of a “servant leader” that Christian leaders need to put into practice so that they truly reflect the excellence of Christ; the voting system yielded the following results, among 10 proposed characteristics: “practice spiritual disciplines: pray, fast, read the Bible”, in the first place; and, “act with integrity”, in second place. According to the voting system, these were the characteristics with the highest score and consequently those considered to be a priority for those surveyed.

And these results point to the heart of the problem. If Christian leaders do not walk in intimate communion with God, it will be obvious that we are more likely to walk reflecting our own culture, a culture broken by sin, and not the culture of the Kingdom of God.

As Christian leaders, as sons and daughters of God, whom do we represent? Well, the Word has given us the title of “Ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, our actions must reflect such title; if we represent Christ Jesus, the image of the invisible God, the Creator God of heaven and earth, of the entire universe. What a tremendous privilege! And what an enormous responsibility to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God! Certainly, it would be far from us to act like those ambassadors of the world, who have often been involved in corruption scandals.

It truly causes shame, frustration, and great pain when we see the Church not acting up to Christ; a leadership that has accommodated itself to the culture of its environment, losing sight of the culture of the Kingdom of God.

We live in a postmodern culture, which has sadly compromised its values, has become involved in the profane. As Miguel Núñez says, when we live in a culture like this, if we do not try at all costs to avoid it, its effects will end up contaminating us and then the profane will become normal in our lives.[2]

Today more than ever we need a leadership that turns to the SOURCE, as Popoola says, so that we can recover the values of the Kingdom. This is not evangelical jargon, which is so common at least in Latin America. We think that if we treat ourselves as “brothers”, we say: “Glory to God”, “Amen”, “Hallelujah”, “Blessings”; we are already Christians. But it’s not like that. There is a world that observes and judges us severely and in front of which we have dishonored the Name of excellence of our Triune Creator God, the Name of our Savior.

If indeed one day we have come to Christ, only by turning to His Word and maintaining an intimate communion with Him, we will be confronted and we will achieve that His mark of excellence shines in and through us and allows us to truly be the salt and light that this world needs.

Hands holding Holy Bible over grey background. Sharing the Gospel with youth. Copy space. Christian concept

This is consistent with the Word:

“Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you…Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5)

And this is complemented by the clear challenge from our God:

 

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Only the Word and an intimate communion with Christ, will transform our mind so that consequently we are channels of transformation in our environment.

In closing, we will quote an extraordinary reflection by Dr. Núñez, which will certainly touch the hearts of readers as it has touched the author of this blog:

“…Perhaps one of the highlights of his [Jesus’] life of service, especially considering that He is the Creator of the world, and yet he set out to serve the creature. When one thinks that the God of the universe, the One who sustains everything with the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), was capable of kneeling down to wash the feet of His disciples, this is something that goes beyond what that the human mind and heart can assimilate”. (Núñez, Jesus – the man who challenged the world and confronts your life 2018)

There is no greater example of excellence than this! There is no justification for a leadership that has strayed into the profane of its culture!

 

[1] Jane Overstreet, UnLeader: The Surprising Qualities of a Valuable Leader (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 3.

[2] Miguel Núñez, Vivir con Integridad y Sabiduría: Persigue los valores que la sociedad ha perdido (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016), 40.

Tope Popoola, Interview on Leadership, 2020.

 

The Leader who Promotes the Culture of Christ – Introduction

“More than half (64%) of Christians say integrity is one of the most important traits a leader must have.”

Barna Group & Brad Lomenick

Before today ´ s topic, as always, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/11/06/el-lider-que-promueve-la-cultura-de-cristo-introduccion/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited.

“Ours first!” I remember this phrase with sadness and annoyance. Years ago when I used to work on television as a news anchor; on one occasion, after the news, I was invited to stay to co-host a music program. And one of the first videos to be presented was an Ecuadorian production. Secular music, without any uplifting message, rather the opposite; but when presenting it I did it with so much enthusiasm, trying to promote “ours first.” I was already a Christian. And just a couple of minutes later while behind the scenes I watched the video I had announced myself; I was ashamed and was really convicted by the Lord. I easily promoted my culture, forgetting whom I represent!

In one of the Barna Group publications, “Christians on Leadership, Calling and Career,” it is made clear that concern for leadership seems to be everywhere, in the church and in the culture:

“No matter what is happening in the world, leadership takes center stage. Kim Jong Un is bringing his nation to the brink of war. A group of senators is directing their fellow Senate members to adopt new policies on illegal immigration. People speculate where the new Pope and the new Archbishop of Canterbury will take their respective churches.” (Barna Group 2013)

Precisely, according to a survey conducted by the Barna Group in 2013, more than eight in ten (82%) of Christian adults believe that the United States faces a crisis of leadership because there are not enough leaders.[1]

Barna1-engSo too and according to another survey of Christian adults conducted by the same Barna Group in conjunction with Brad Lomenick, President of the Catalyst conference, which asked: What is the most important quality in a leader? The main answer was “integrity.” More than half (64%) of Christians say integrity is one of the most important traits a leader must have.[2]

And the current panorama of the planet, from a few decades ago, is increasingly discouraging in terms of leadership. There is a long history to go in the world of politics, business and, unfortunately, also in the church. So many leaders have fallen hard from their pedestals and platforms; and the worst thing is that many of them have not managed to get up.

Let’s talk, for example, about Fernando Collor de Melo, former president of Brazil, who is said to have built his prestige by promoting himself as someone who firmly fights against corruption. But in 1992, contradictorily, Collor de Melo, in collaboration with his treasurer, had diverted around 350 million dollars for himself and his family, all this due to influence peddling.[3]

At a private level, for example, in 2001 it became known that the large US company Enron, which at that time had about 2,000 employees, declared bankruptcy. They were accused of bribery and influence peddling in Central America, South America, Africa and in two Asian countries, the Philippines and India. The bankruptcy was calculated at around 63.4 billion dollars.[4]

And what about Christian leadership in the different spheres? Has the scenario been different? Unfortunately, not!

Let us now refer to Ríos Montt, who at the end of the seventies takes a turn in his life, leaves Catholicism and becomes a leader of the Pentecostal church El Verbo. On March 23, 1982, Ríos Montt, along with other officers, carried out a coup d’état, through which he became the leader of a three-person military junta. And in 2013 he was sadly convicted of attempts to exterminate the Mayan Ixils. As the story goes, General Ríos Montt used to say:

“…that all true Christians carried the Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.” (Kinz 2018)

And to the peasants he said:

“If they are with us, we will feed them; if not, we will kill them.” (Kinz 2018)

In fact, the author of “Shining like stars”, Lindsay Brown, refers in her book that she had the opportunity to talk with one of the workers from the time of the Ríos Montt government and whom she approached saying that it was surely wonderful to have a Christian president. But to her surprise, the worker replied:

“Lindsay, it is a tragedy that he was chosen since he does not have a Christian mind. The corruption continues and he gives high positions to his relatives. So, his election has turned out to be a scandal for the Government”. (Brown 2007)

Certainly, tragic, and inconceivable, but unfortunately, nothing surprising these days!

Now, what about pastors and church leaders? The situation is not different sadly; and over the last few decades, so many leaders have shamefully fallen from their pulpits.

We will refer then to a dramatic story, “inside doors”, told by Jane Overstreet, in her book “Unleader – The Surprising Qualities of a Valuable Leader,” who in dialogue with one of his students who for days had shown a hostile attitude; while they had a coffee, she managed to penetrate to the intimacy of his heart. To make a long story short, when asked by Jane about his father, the boy replied that he didn’t know him very well because his parents had divorced and added that his father had been a pastor. Having entered confidence, he expounded:

“Well, actually all of my parents are pastors. My mom has been married five times, although she is currently divorcing her last partner. Yes! I have been a pastor’s son in five different churches, with five different dads. I think I’ve broken the record! True?” (Overstreet 2011)

The author then reflects and asks herself some questions, just as we are surely asking ourselves right now, reading this devastatingRight is right story. Overstreet claims that she has met many young people who have grown up in the evangelical church but have no respect for her. Is it because of everything they have seen in the church? Is it because the divorce rate of Christians in the United States is as high as that of non-believers? Or is it due to the loss of integrity? All these questions and even more, which certainly lead us to meditate deeply on the decline of leadership, and not just in the United States, but around the world.

Coming up: The Culture of Christ is the Culture of the Kingdom of God! Very soon!

[1] Research Releases in Culture & Media, “Christians on Leadership, Calling and Career,” The Barna Research Group, https://www.barna.com/research/christians-on-leadership-calling-and-career/

[2] Research Releases in Culture & Media, “Christians on Leadership, Calling and Career,” The Barna Research Group, https://www.barna.com/research/christians-on-leadership-calling-and-career/

[3] Miguel Núñez, Vivir con Integridad y Sabiduría: Persigue los valores que la sociedad ha perdido (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016), 20.

[4] Miguel Núñez, Vivir con Integridad y Sabiduría: Persigue los valores que la sociedad ha perdido (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016), 23.

From Lord to Servant – From Heaven to the Cross

“[Christian leadership] seeks to serve. Encourage and inspire. Respect rather than exploit others. He reflects, prays and acts according to the words of Jesus Christ…”

Anthony D’Souza

Before one develops today´s topic, as always, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/10/09/de-senor-a-siervo-del-cielo-a-la-cruz/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited.

Anthony D’Souza, in his book “Developing the Leader within you” states that when discussing leadership skills and people management we must remember that Christian leadership implies service. And that in fact when considering the Church or para-church organizations, this concept of service is more easily assimilated. However, when it comes to corporations and businesses in general, the term “service” is seen as out of place.

D’Souza expresses that part of the confusion may stem from a lack of understanding of the true concept of leadership. And he emphasizes that for many, leadership implies power, authority, honor, prestige, or personal advantage. And of course, none of that constitutes Christian leadership, he stresses.[1]  And, in fact, he describes it this way:

“[Christian leadership] seeks to serve. Encourage and inspire. Respect rather than exploit others. He reflects, prays and acts according to the words of Jesus Christ: ´…but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your servant; as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:26-28)”. (D’Souza, Developing the Leader within You 1994)

Here it is worth noting that while servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by renowned author Robert K. Greenleaf, in his essay, “The Servant as Leader,” essay that was originally published in 1970.[2]  In that essay, Greenleaf stated:

TE-Souza-eng“A servant leader focuses on the growth and well-being of individuals and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform at their best.” (Greenleaf, Center for Servant Leadership 2016)

If servant leadership as a phrase was coined and spread since the 70s; its concept, its very essence is tremendously older; in fact, timeless as Greenleaf has said. And it is that more than 2,000 years ago, servant leadership was actually modeled, practiced and spread by our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, it was He who taught leadership to his disciples, both with the exposition of his Word and through his works. Ultimately, empowered leaders, says Anthony D’Souza, are those who challenge the status quo and forge new paths. In fact, Jesus taught his disciples to be leaders who change attitudes and traditions, as shown in Matthew 23: 1-36 and Mark 7: 9,13.[3]

In “Empowering Leadership,” another of author Anthony D’Souza’s books, he clearly states:

“With the power of Scripture, with the persuasion of vivid parables, and with the poignancy of example from his own life, He [Jesus] taught [his disciples] how to lead his people.” (D’Souza, Empowering Leadership 2001)

No one could deny that Jesus’ style of leadership was unique and unusual. Let’s look at a few instances, during which Jesus provided leadership:[4]

  • Jesus healed the leper – He really cared and responded to the needs that were presented to him.
  • He evicted the merchants from the temple and cleansed it – He confronted an entire institution.
  • He conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well – He broke down the barriers.
  • He visited the house of Zacchaeus, the publican (tax collector) – He provoked the dialogue.
  • He defended the woman whom the Pharisees wanted to stone – He bravely argued and defended his case.
  • He washed the feet of his disciples – He set the example for him.
  • He was hung on a cross – He gave his life in sacrifice, to become a reconciler.

For the purposes of this study, we will take a closer look at one of the above cases. And we will focus on the one related to the woman who was about to be stoned by the Pharisees, whose story we find in John 8:3-11.

Robert K. Greenleaf, in his essay, “The Servant as Leader,” discusses Jesus’ leadership in this passage from the following perspective:

“A leader must have more of an armor of confidence in facing the unknown — more than those who accept his leadership…a very firm belief that in the stress of real life situations one can compose oneself in a way that permits the creative process to operate…Jesus sits there writing in the sand…In the
pressure of the moment, having assessed the situation rationally, he assumes the attitude of withdrawal that will allow creative insight to function.…And a great one came, one that has kept story of the incident alive for 2,000 years —  ‘Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone.'” (Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader 2008)

Who could have resisted these words? Who could have refuted them? As Greenleaf says, Jesus could have delighted the crowd with rational arguments about the superiority of compassion over torture. He could have presented a good logical argument for it.[5]  But he did not! And rather, with authority and knowledge he raised the challenge already stated, and then the crowd stepped back, one by one:

“But they, hearing this, accused by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest to the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman who was in the middle.” (John 8:9)

Jesus was a leader; he had a goal and that was clearly to bring more compassion into people’s lives.[6]

“Jesus straightened up, and seeing no one but the woman, he said to her: Woman, where are those who accused you? Did no one condemn you? She said: None, Lord. Then Jesus said to him: Neither do I condemn you; go away and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

Clearly Jesus, as a servant leader, demonstrated in this episode his total compassion for the brokenhearted and even sinners. As true as this woman had sinned, it was also true that she had been publicly humiliated; and Jesus responded immediately in her defense and protection, safeguarding her dignity; without this meaning that He has tolerated her sin. On the contrary, as her Word says, Jesus did not condemn her, but he was emphatic in directing her to a life that does not contemplate sin as an alternative.

And so, continuing with our analysis of servant leadership, the renowned D.L. Moody raised the following reflection:

“The measure of a man is not how many servants he has, but how many men he serves.” (Núñez, Jesús, el hombre que desafió al mundo y confronta tu vida. “Jesus, the man who challenged the world and confronts your life” 2018)

It should then be noted that Jesus, the image of the invisible God; in fact, the very Creator of the universe was seen in different and many instances, as a servant. It is inconceivable, as stated by Dr. Miguel Núñez, that the Creator of the world was seen serving the creature. That he who sustains the universe (Hebrews 1: 3), would kneel to wash the feet of his disciples (John 13: 1-17).[7]

But Jesus, throughout his earthly life, left us, without a doubt, a model of service and humility. And to support what has been said, let us analyze how from the incarnation of Jesus to his death, this was a tremendous reality. For this purpose, we will refer to the extraordinary study presented by Miguel Núñez, in his book, “Jesus, the man who challenged the world and confronts your life.”[8]

  • Jesus, from before the creation of the world, existed in the form of God, but he did not considerSilhouette of catholic cross and sunrisehimself to be equal to God. He humbled himself, was obedient and obedient until death on the cross.

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

  • Entering this world, he does so in a manger, devoid of everything; only with the company of the earthly parents of him.

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)

  • When it came to serving, Jesus never asked his disciples to do anything that he hadn’t done before.

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15)

  • In his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, at the time of being acclaimed as King, he does so on a donkey and not on a horse as was usual for royalty.

“And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’”  So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.”  And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.” (Luke 19:28-35)

  • Jesus in his first coming, brought a message of peace and not of war, with the sole purpose of reconciling man with God. Therefore, to fulfill this purpose, the only way was the cross.

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—everyone—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:6-7)

  • For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

With all of the above, it is important that we as servant leaders understand this profound teaching so that our leadership reflects the character of Jesus and replicates his model of leadership. Núñez sums it up this way:

  • “There is no exaltation without humiliation: the incarnation first and the glorification later.
  • There is no glory without suffering: the cross and then the glory.
  • There is no crown without a cross: first the service and then the coronation”. (Núñez, Jesus, the man who challenged the world and confronts your life 2018)

And he magnificently adds:

“In a single sentence uttered by Jesus it is shown the model of his leadership: ‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve’ (Matthew 20:28). His life of service so honored the Father that, in Philippians 2:9-11, the apostle Paul says that the Father gave him a name above all names ‘ so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’” (Núñez, Jesus, the man who challenged the world and confronts your life 2018)

Extraordinarily, the Lord of lords humbled himself as a servant, left his throne in heaven, stripped Himself of His royalty and still did not spare being equal to God; and He came to earth with only one purpose, to reconcile the sinner with God, giving His life as a ransom for many; He humbled Himself to the utmost and was obedient to the point of death on the cross! He died so that through His death we sinners may have life and life to the full!

[1] Anthony D´Souza, Developing the Leader within You (Singapore: Haggai Centre for Advanced Leadership Studies, 1994), 4-5.

[2] Robert K. Greenleaf, “The Servant as Leader,” https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

[3] Anthony D´Souza, Empowering Leadership (Singapore: Haggai Institute, 2001), ix-xi.

[4] Anthony D´Souza, Empowering Leadership (Singapore: Haggai Institute, 2001), x.

[5] Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader (Westfiel, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2008), 29.

[6] Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader (Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2008), 29.

[7] Miguel Núñez, Jesús, el hombre que desafió al mundo y confronta tu vida (Nashville, NT: B&H Publishing Group, 2018), 37.

[8] Miguel Núñez, Jesús, el hombre que desafió al mundo y confronta tu vida (Nashville, NT: B&H Publishing Group, 2018), 38.

The Servant Leader as a Reflection of the Excellency of Christ – Introduction

“God, through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, has redeemed their distorted and feeble attempts to portray His image. The effects of the fall are being reversed…”

Richard D. Allen

While I had the privilege of studying for my master’s degree in South Korea, I also had the privilege of meeting so many people who impacted my life tremendously. One of them, Dr. Sang Bok David Kim, who was one of my teachers. I remember that after two years of study, I became critically ill; however, I attended classes normally, although on several occasions, I felt very, very weak, that I could hardly concentrate. Suddenly, while I leaned back on my desk for a while, I felt a hand patting me, followed by words full of sweetness, like a father speaking to his sick daughter. That was Dr. Kim, who stopped teaching his class, to come to my place and lift my spirits, amid the pain I faced.

Dr. Kim, a recognized leader in South Korea and beyond. President Emeritus of Torch Trinity Graduate University, Pastor Emeritus of Hallelujah Community Church, Global Ambassador of Transform World Network, among other important leadership positions; but, above all, a servant leader who reflected the character of Christ, leaving his academic platform and bending down to lift the heart of a student weakened by illness. A leader with a father’s heart!

But before one develops today´s topic, as always, it is important to mention that the English version of this article has been translated from the Spanish version of Towards Excellence (https://hacialaexcelencia.org/2022/09/11/el-lider-siervo-como-reflejo-de-la-excelencia-de-cristo-introduccion/); not necessarily from the original texts and works of authors here cited.

Thus, after this extensive but very necessary journey, it has been discovered and verified that the Triune Creator God is certainly the God of excellence. His character and His creation evidence so.

Therefore, this extensive previous study has allowed us to lay the foundations for the following analysis and discussion, and which will focus on what concerns Christian leadership, whose actors are certainly bearers of the image and likeness of God, and consequently are challenged to be an example of excellence in their sphere of influence.

Starting from this premise, we now consider it appropriate to quote Genesis again:

Gen1-28_eng“Then God said, ´Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.´ So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ´Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.´”

Erickson, taking the above passage as a reference, highlights that the human being has a unique place in creation; and not only that, but he has been placed above it; in fact, he has dominion over it. He also adds that our value as humans is great, because we are the highest of creatures except angels.[1]

On the other hand, Richard D. Allen, in his book “The Genesis Principle of Leadership: Claiming and Cultivating Your Created Capacity” states that each person possesses in equal proportion the attributes imparted by God in the incredible act of creation; and that leadership characteristics emerge from God-given attributes. Therefore, as each human being, men and women, is created in the image of God, this means that they possess equal capacity and full potential for effective leadership. Thus, when we human beings reflect the created attributes of God, then we are leading.[2]  And Allen further emphasizes:

“Your call to bear the image of God has a profound impact on the way you approach the task of leadership. As His image bearer, God commands him to be a leader. ´Rule!´ From the very creation of the world, you have been commanded to exercise dominion, to lead over all creation…You must lead God’s creation but only in a way that is consistent with His character – His attributes” . (Allen 2008)

And continuing with this interesting study of Allen, it is appropriate to highlight that God’s mandate, His commission since Genesis, has not changed at all. His mandate is in effect to fill the earth with His glory and rule over it. Now, there is a great obstacle that has appeared in the way, and that great obstacle is sin. It has wreaked havoc, impeding our ability to faithfully fulfill God’s command. It has perverted the pure and righteous attributes that God entrusted to humanity since creation. And it seems that everything reached a point of hopelessness. Fortunately, as Allen says, the biblical story does not end there, with the fall of man, condemned to a futile and hopeless struggle to be the bearer of the image of God, without any success. We see rather that a great door is opened, and God’s created attributes are redeemed![3]   So Allen specifies:

Man strive hand to a God

“God, through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, has redeemed their distorted and feeble attempts to portray His image. The effects of the fall are being reversed…Through Christ, you have been reinstated, newly commissioned to be God’s image-bearing leader…You are to fill creation with the glory of God reflecting His righteous government through leadership that you exert on your corner of creation.” (Allen 2008)

With this in mind, and understanding that as God’s creation, all human beings have received the call to rule over creation; consequently, to lead; it is important now that we focus on the study of Christian leadership, the focus of this research. Thus, stay tuned!

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), 512-513.

[2] Richard D. Allen, The Genesis Principle of Leadership: Claiming and Cultivating Your Created Capacity (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, 2008), 23-24.

[3] Richard D. Allen, The Genesis Principle of Leadership: Claiming and Cultivating Your Created Capacity (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, 2008), 44-45.

A Heart Marked by the Excellence of God

“Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals…by his reason and intelligence.”

St. Thomas

Very happy to share with you a new article in the series on the “Excellence of God.” Enjoy it!

Having understood that the mark of God’s excellence is the image of Him impregnated within the soul of the human being; and even more so, having understood that Jesus is the living image, the exact reproduction of God the Creator Father; the precise path has been traced to elucidate how the heart of God is reflected in the heart of the human being.

Let us consider here the reasoning of St. Thomas, which reads as follows:

“Man is said to be after the image of God, not as regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, Let us make man in our image and likeness, it is added, And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea (Genesis 1.26). Now man excels all animals by his reason and intelligence; hence it is according to his intelligence and reason, which are incorporeal, that man is said to be according to the image of God.” (Piper, Desiring God 1971)

St Thomas

John Piper, in his study “The Image of God”, shares the following support in this line:

“The early church fathers were quite agreed that the image of God in man consisted primarily in man’s rational and moral characteristics, and in his capacity for holiness.” (Piper, Desiring God 1971)

Thus, God has deposited in the heart of the human being a part of His being, establishing a great difference between the creation of man and woman; and the other created beings, such is the case of the animals, who do not carry within themselves the image of the Triune Creator God.

According to the analysis of David Casas and Russell Fuller, in their article “God’s Image – The Difference Maker,” when examining how man is similar to God, it is excludeH of course the physical body since God is Spirit (John 4:24). And, on the other hand, creature limitations are excluded since God is infinite, eternal, and immutable in all His attributes (Psalm 90:2; Malachi 3:6; Jeremiah 23:24). On the other hand, man resembles God by having a free, rational, and personal spirit, which includes, say the authors, a conscience with the law of God written in his heart; therefore, man can rule over nature in a similar way as God reigns.[1]  Let us quote Romans 2 here to support this truth:

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16)

Therefore, the heart of the human being is not only marked by the image of God, but the very law of God has been written in it. And this, without exception, all human beings, men and women; boys, and girls; healthy and sick; without socioeconomic distinction. Absolutely all of us are bearers of the image of God; and we all carry the law of God written in our hearts. In the same way for both believers and unbelievers. All human creation, without exception!

The fact that man resembles God, that his heart bears God’s mark of excellence, has at least three profound implications.

According to the study by Casas and Fuller, the following are said implications,[2]  which we will detail one by one.

1. The Image of God Establishes Human Dignity

Here it is possible to expose the atheistic and the pantheistic thought. According to the cited authors, by denying the image of God, atheism diminishes human dignity and reduces man to a fortuitous or casual event, as if he were an evolutionary product of matter, or a simple animal. Pantheism, on the other hand, denies the image of God and instead diminishes human dignity by exalting all of nature as a manifestation of God.

The Scriptures, however, testify to the dignity of man. Being created in the image and likeness of God, he is positioned above all nature. For this purpose, let us quote two very appropriate passages:

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beingsand crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5-6)

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

2. The Image of God Establishes the Sacredness of Life

The authors point out that atheist cultures reject the sacredness of life while devaluing the lives of the born and unborn as state policy. However, the Word of God protects the sacredness of life in its laws. And with respect to this subject, what is stated in Genesis 9:6 has been sufficiently discussed before (in previous articles). God decrees that if someone commits murder, the murderer must still lose his life, because man is made in the image of God. The authors here emphasize that the crime is really a direct assault against God. In fact, in a situation, such as the one exposed in Genesis 9:6, God will personally search for the murderer and will hold him responsible.

Along these lines, it is interesting how John Calvin observed that because man is the bearer of the image of God, God considers Himself “violated in his person”, in other words, “the victim”. Therefore, he says, you cannot harm another human being without harming God Himself.

The authors conclude that God created the sacred life of man. If this life is destroyed, there is no other way than divine judgment.

3. The Image of God Establishes the Necessity for God’s Redemption

If man would not have the image of God in his being, in his heart, the plan of redemption simply would not exist. It should be clarified that the above does not imply that possessing the image of God entitles sinners to redemption, but redemption requires that sinners have been created in His image.

It is tremendously interesting how Casas and Fuller explore this topic. And they say that God’s purpose for sending His Son in the likeness of man was to renew the image of God in humanity through the Gospel. Let’s examine Ephesians 4:

“and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24)

In fact, Christians have been known and predestined to conform to the image of His Son, according to Romans 8:

“For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29)

Thus, the gospel, once received, renews the image that was marred both by Adam’s sin and by our own sin so that the believer can “bear the image of the heavenly”:

“Thus, it is written, ´The first man Adam became a living being´; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit… Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45,49)

Image of beautiful young couple drinking coffee while walking by

Because God created us in His image, thus being crowned with glory and honor, and because of His infinite grace toward us undeserving sinners, God sent His Son to redeem us.

As human beings, we are tremendously privileged because our hearts have been marked with the very image of the invisible God. He has bestowed upon us dignity and holiness. He has instilled courage in us, regardless of our condition.

And not only that, but in the midst of our sinful condition, a condition that separates us and breaks communion with our Creator; and because of this, we are judged, singled out or discarded by our environment; it is amazing to know that He Himself has prepared the way for our redemption and restoration. Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, is such a way. And here it is worth quoting 2 Corinthians:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

Thus, for all the above, it is clear that Jesus is the image and fullness of God; therefore, human beings reestablish the image of God in their hearts, in His being, while Christ becomes the very center of their lives.

The excellence of the heart of God was definitely impregnated in our heart, now it is we who must expand the heart of God wherever we go.[3]


[1] David Casas and Russell Fuller, “God´s Image – The Difference Maker,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/are-humans-animals/gods-image-difference-maker/

[2] David Casas and Russell Fuller, “God´s Image – The Difference Maker,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/are-humans-animals/gods-image-difference-maker/

[3] Cecilia Yépez, “Excellence Stems from the Heart – Part 2”, Blog “Towards Excellence”, https://towardsexcellence.org/2017/04/10/excellence-stems-from-the-heart-part-2/