Ownership - Leadership Prayers
It’s yours, God. It’s not mine.
Do not be afraid! . . . For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15
Leaders are stewards of God’s purposes and resources in human lives and history. Too easily we act as if we were the owners. Too easily we try to play God. We do not work miracles for God. He does them for us.
THIS is my one incessant prayer to you, hour by hour, day upon day: It’s yours. I am not fighting this battle for you, God. It’s your battle, and you are fighting for me. It is all yours, and I want whatever you have for me in this situation.
It is not my organization, it is yours, so I depend on your Spirit to show me what to do. These are not my people. I chose them and organized their efforts, but they do not belong to me. You entrusted them to my leadership, and they agreed to follow me. They deserve more and sometimes expect more of me than I can give them. What they really need is enormous. If I take their needs and hopes and fears on myself personally, I will be crushed instantly. They are yours.
So much depends on me, yet all I have for this task is whatever health and energy you give me— my eyes, ears, back, heart, lungs, knees, hands, feet, voice. I eat carefully, rest, exercise, and think positive thoughts, and still this wretched lump of clay fails me. You have creator’s rights on my body. You formed every miraculous part. What you take away is your business. I will do what I can with whatever physical capability you give me. It’s yours.
Yours is the kingdom, but we never seem to have enough resources! We are always lacking something, our dreams always mocking our reality, our vision always dancing around our poverty. You own everything, so what we need must seem small to you. Show me where to look for it, how to know it when I see it, how to get it, how to use it best, and especially how to be content with it. It is all yours.
Time crawls relentlessly, mercilessly onward. The days end as the years end, with never enough time for all the good that could be done, only just enough for your priorities, if I get them right. You created time, and it does not limit you. But I do not have a thousand years today, God. I have only now.
I choose and organize people, but they do not belong to me.
So this day is yours; I am yours; these people are yours; the resources are yours. The challenges we face are yours, as is anything we hope to accomplish.
It’s yours, God. It’s not mine.
A university colleague once explained what he thought was the key to the dramatic success we were witnessing. His view was that I had made the university mine, that I had taken personal responsibility for its destiny.
In one sense I understood his meaning and could agree with him. But the experience of freedom and creativity I enjoyed as president was possible precisely because the university belonged—humanly and legally—to the board of trustees and the church, not to me.
I had the privilege of proposing things, knowing that it was the board’s job to stop me whenever they saw that I was about to dive into a pool with no water. I had the liberty to try things, knowing that if I failed, the board could choose to hire somebody else in my place. That freedom made me a better leader.
I could practice my stewardship of university leadership with a light, creative spirit because I did not have to bear the ultimate burden of ownership. It was not my job to make everything work out. Like leaders everywhere, my job was simply to follow the owner’s desires and lead, helping to build great people by attempting something difficult and significant together.
In a spiritual sense, for both the trustees and me, every event, relationship, or decision ultimately belongs to God. Constantly practicing God’s ownership liberates us for creative leadership. We just lead. All the rest is the Owner’s business.