“I have revealed you to the ones you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6)
These are among Jesus’ last words on the night before he was arrested. He is praying to the Father, asking that he protect the disciples and observes that he has revealed the Father to them through his teaching, his miracles and the example of his life. He had earlier told Phillip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Just as Jesus saw his responsibility to reveal the Father to his disciples, so too do we have a similar responsibility to reveal the Father to the people God puts in our lives. This certainly includes our spouse and children for whom we have a special responsibility, but it also includes friends and colleagues. With respect to our children, we have a teaching responsibility similar to Jesus. The Church assists us in this effort through religious education, Sunday school and sermons.
With respect to our spouse, friends and colleagues, the primary way of revealing the Father is through the example of our lives and in our actions of love and service.
I am reminded of a former boss, colleague and friend who passed on a few years ago. Tom was General Counsel of Mobil’s worldwide marketing and refining operations. I reported to him in various assignments over eleven years.
Without ever mentioning the words God or Jesus, Tom revealed the presence of the Father in his life by his example. He didn’t talk much about his faith, but he lived it in the daily actions of his life. While demanding the highest quality of legal services from the lawyers and staff he oversaw, he was always fair and truthful in dealing with people and what was best for them in their career development and training.
He never winced from speaking the truth to management on controversial legal issues. Once he was convinced that the legal work of his staff was correct, he fully supported that work with senior management. Tom’s leadership of our legal group reflected integrity, excellence and a special respect for all people.
When I think about Jesus’ words and example of revealing the Father to his disciples, and the example of Tom’s life, I am prompted to reflect on whether my actions and words have been revealing the Father to the people God has put in my life. In the Parable of the Talents, we see that God expects us to be good stewards of the talents, time, and possessions he entrusts to us. (Matthew 25:14-30) This also includes the people he puts in our lives – our spouses, children, work colleagues and friends.
Richard Blackaby in his book, Spiritual Leadership, says the primary goal of spiritual leadership is “taking people from where they are to where God wants them to be.”
Are we helping the people in our lives come to know the Father and be where he wants them to be?