Christian leadership can be described in many ways. It is servant leadership. It is Christ-centered and it is Bible-focused. Some will say it needs to be meek, gracious, or based on love. But there is one phrase that I seldom hear used in describing Christian leadership. That phrase is Eternal Perspective.
Maybe it is just not a familiar term to most people. Maybe the thought itself is somewhat foreign. Or maybe we have just gone so far to the extreme in our immediate-gratification culture that this idea of having an eternal perspective doesn’t even cross our mind.
Either way, I think this is a serious oversight.
In my last couple of posts, I have been attempting to describe Christian leadership. I started in the first post by explaining how it really just boils down to influence – borrowing a quote from John Maxwell – and that we ALL are called to be Christian leaders in our circles of influence. In the next post, I told you how I believe Christian leaders must be intentional.
Today, I want to dig a little into this idea of an eternal perspective and tell you why I believe it should truly be a foundational part of effective Christian leadership. I hope you will come to understand this idea a little better as a result.
First, let’s describe what I mean when I say eternal perspective. Basically, having an eternal perspective means that as we make decisions or take actions, we consider how they will impact us and others in eternity.
Rather than thinking about how a decision will look in 30 days, we think about what it will look like in 3,000 years (and beyond). When trying to decide how to run our business or allocate our resources, we do not merely look at how it will affect our retirement, but also how it will impact eternity.
Whenever possible, I want to go to Scripture to get our direction. Let’s look at Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7-8.
Rather, train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
…The Life To Come
Notice how Paul acknowledges that godliness has benefits for our present life in this world while also for the life to come! This is the perfect example of having an eternal perspective. Training the body also has benefits here, but not so much in the life to come.
So if Paul is recommending this kind of eternal perspective mindset to Timothy, why would it not work in the business world? Why would it not make sense for us to think the same way as we approach every aspect of our lives today – work, school, church, etc.?
Eternal Perspective In Business?
I think it does work. As an example, it is natural for a business owner to think about employees as critical to the success of the business. When viewing it from an eternal perspective, the thinking changes. No longer is an employee ONLY critical to the success of the business. Now the employee is also a soul that needs to find a relationship with God in order to spend eternity with Him.
I do not think this should result in forcing employees to believe in Jesus (won’t happen!). Instead, you can simply provide the resources that would allow (even encourage) it. Resources such as a chaplain program or regular lunch & learn Bible studies could be part of your efforts. Not only will your employees be impacted for eternity, there are productivity and other benefits here and now.
Critical To Following Jesus
I am convinced this kind of thinking from an eternal perspective is critical. In fact, I do not believe we can effectively follow Jesus Christ and think otherwise. For us to attempt to truly follow Jesus while only thinking about the short-term results of our actions or decisions may just be impossible. I think Luke 9:62 fits here:
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
The difficulty in this thinking from an eternal perspective – and I promise you there is difficulty – is that the world does not think this way. Because of this, the rewards of this world often come to those who think short-term. In this context, short-term is any time-frame on this side of eternity.
I tell you this not to discourage you but to set realistic expectations. Do not begin applying this eternal perspective to your work and expect worldly success as a result. They are not connected.
Eternity In Our Hearts
Instead, recognize that God put eternity into our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and that is how He expects us to think. The more we think from an eternal perspective, the more our decisions and actions will reflect it. When that happens, the rewards will come in God’s way (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Does the eternal perspective make sense to you?
When do you find it the most challenging?
What victories can you name as a result of this thinking?