John Aden, a veteran Senior Executive of companies like MacTools and Walmart, knows what it’s like to face the pressures of top management and juggle the many priorities competing for his attention. In the early part of his career John struggled with competing priorities and achieving a work life balance.
All this changed when John attended a Christian CEO Conference in Dallas. There John listened to Christian business leaders interact, and he was fascinated by the way they were wrestling with the questions such as “How do we bring our values into the workplace?” Mac McQuiston, the host of the conference, invited John to engage in a study that would help him understand the difference between religion and a relationship with God. During the next thirteen weeks, John worked through a Bible Study that changed his relationship with God: Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God. This Bible Study gave John a roadmap for being in relationship with God as well as knowing and doing the will of God.
Newly inspired by his relationship with God, John started a practice of seeking God every day. It changed his life. Through the practice of abiding in God’s presence, John not only grew in his relationship with God, he gained better understanding of what God expects from his leaders in the marketplace.
You may have heard the word abide tossed around at church. It comes from John 15:7, which reads in the New King James Version: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” That’s a big promise: that we can ask for what we desire and that God will do it! What’s the key? Abiding in God’s presence. But what does abiding mean?
Some translations of John 15:7 use the word remain or stay. To abide in God means to stay with God, to remain in his presence no matter what. This takes deliberate practice. Jesus intentionally isolated himself with God from time to time. He took breaks from his work to be with God. So when he needed God in a moment of crisis, Jesus found Him in the garden of Gethsemane. Abiding also involves keeping God’s commandments. Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10, ESV). If we want to remain in God when a crisis pops up at work we need to practice abiding. Let’s see how Jesus did it.
After calling his first disciples, Jesus prepared his leadership team in the same manner he had prepared himself. There were no short cuts in Jesus’ personal development, and there was none in his team’s development. Their first nine months together were very quiet. After he called them to “come and see,” nothing big happened right away. John’s is the only gospel that records any events during this period of time, and one of them tells how Jesus was specifically trying to lay low. At a wedding in Cana, Jesus told his mother, “My time has not yet come” ( John 2:4).
During these early months of Jesus’ leadership there were no crowds. No road shows. No “success stories.” No large feats. No compelling promises. No momentum. On the other hand, we can imagine there was an ongoing curiosity on the part of the disciples to know more about Jesus and about the God who was leading him day by day. They watched how Jesus invested the time to develop an intimate relationship with God. John later quotes Jesus publicly declaring to the crowds what he privately modeled to John in those first nine months:
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19
The same thing is true of us, by the way. Although many leaders hate to admit it, we can do nothing of eternal value in our companies, in our homes, and in the world unless God shows us. This chapter will show you how to seek God’s mind and heart by following the steps Jesus took to know God.