A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. This is the title of a book that I read many years ago. The title has forever captured my attention. Its because its not about being flashy, popular, or fast (which are all values in our culture). The book is about getting up each and every day, even when we are knocked down by our own mistakes or by others. Its about continuing to do the same thing over and over again in the same direction – the right direction.
Men, my overarching question is this: As leaders who are often discouraged and wonder if we are making any impact, how do we get up each day and continue to lead in the same right direction?
One reason I like watching sports is the way it compresses so many of life’s questions into a two hour period:
- How well did you prepare?
- How well do you adjust to new situations?
- Can you control your emotions in the middle of a tense situation?
- How do you respond to winning/losing?
- How do you react to fatigue?
- What happens when you get knocked down, make a bad play or decision, or get penalized?
Few sports compress these questions into a shorter period than boxing. Some refer to Tyson vs Douglas in 1990 as the greatest upset in boxing history. Tyson was the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion. In Tyson’s previous fight, he knocked out his opponent in 93 seconds. Douglas was physically impressive, but experts considered him soft and a waste of potential.
Douglas knocked out Tyson in round 10. Notice that Douglas got back up just before the bell. I wonder what kind of regrets Douglas would have had if he didn’t stand up.
“In a round that most thought Buster would pack it in, He comes back showing the heart.” – Jim Lampley, HBO Announcer
“The main thing I wanted to do was express my joy for my Father – He’s my Hero..to fulfill a dream, not only for myself but for him – is the most rewarding thing in the world.” – Buster Douglas
As we keep these things in mind, lets turn attention to Noah. If any leader ever showed: “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” – it was Noah.
Noah – Genesis 6
In Genesis 6:9, we see “Noah walked with God.” This is such a perfect description of long obedience. Walking with God is the Goal & Destination. We don’t walk with God to get somewhere. Walking with God is somewhere. We don’t use God to get to heaven. God is the goal.
In Buster Douglas’ own words, “The main thing I wanted to do was express my joy for my Father.” Of course this was about his earthly father, but can we say this about our heavenly father? For Noah, thats the destination. Expressing joy – walking with God.
Question: How would you characterize your relationship with God? What is your destination?
In Genesis 6:5-7, we see the culture in Noah’s day. This is the culture Noah had to walk with God through: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Noah’s culture is so wicked that its causing de-creation. All the good that God created in Genesis 1 is going backward. The desire for the knowledge of “good and evil” leads only to evil. Sin always has a consuming effect. Men, this is a WARNING for pornography. One look can lead to being consumed.
In between Genesis 6:22-7:1 is 120 years. Think about that. Think about being Noah: Everyday for 120 years he answers the bell. He gets up and does what God commands.
Consider how many times he must have gotten discouraged by his surrounding culture. I wonder how many times he got knocked down, was called a fool, or wondered if all his work would eventually be worth it? For 120 years, Noah exercises a “Long Obedience in the Same Direction”.
Genesis 7:1 highlights Noah’s leadership. One blog I read said “Noah wasn’t a very good leader in his time because he couldn’t persuade anyone else to get on the Ark beside his family.” What is your reaction to that?
Here’s my response: When you think about your leadership, don’t imagine a stage, a powerful spotlight position, a title like: President, CEO, General, or Boss. Instead, think about influencing your family or a small group (like 3 couples). That’s enough to start an avalanche of influence. Remember, Jesus decided 12 was a good number.
Fathers have a great influence. Noah had a lasting influence on his family; he was able to lead them inside the ark.
Recently, I was listening to a business podcast about hiring. Here is what the expert said:
“I’ve learned not to hire people who have unresolved issues with their Fathers because those issues will show up in the workplace and I don’t want to spend time unwinding them.”
Fathers, consider the power of your influence in your family. Just from leading your family well, you can start a “Trophic Cascade”.
1. How would you characterize your relationship with God? What is your Destination?
2. What’s your greatest challenge in getting up every day, getting up from being knocked down and continuing to live in: “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction?”
3. Single or Married: What did you learn about leadership from your Father? Married: What are your challenges as the leader of your family?
Friends and Brothers,
Pastor, Christ Community Church