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The Challenge to Define Reality By R. Scott Rodin

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.

~ Max De Pree

We may agree that defining reality is good advice, but it may be more difficult. How does a leader define what is real for their organization? The need to define reality assumes that a host of alternatives are counterfeit, deceptive, or misleading. As a leader looks at his or her organization, at the challenges and at the future, how do we discern truth from deception?

The task can be more challenging as steward leaders because we have an enemy whose primary media are lies and deception. Nothing delights the enemy more than when we fixate on things that are more illusion than true. It takes us off course, wastes resources, and focuses us back on ourselves rather than on Christ. So, how do you, as a steward leader, define reality for your organization?

Distorted Views

Over the past seven weeks, I learned a lesson about what is real and what is illusory. Following my total knee replacement surgery on January 6th, I was put on a heavy dose of strong narcotics to eliminate the pain so I could engage in the rigorous physical therapy needed to rehab the knee. It was an odd and disorienting five weeks. While my body was truly in pain, my brain was tricked into believing that I was feeling better than I was. The cost of this was a constant fog, I called it living in my ‘castle on a cloud’. It sapped my energy, kept me from being able to engage in relationships, and fed me misinformation about my well-being. While the deception was planned and for my best, it was not a pleasant state. Neither was coming off of it and returning to the reality of drug-free life.

I reflect back on these last few weeks realizing that my definition of reality was significantly skewed. I wonder if the same happens to us as steward leaders? The challenge, of course, is whether we choose to define reality for ourselves and our organizations in light of kingdom values or not? Do we assess our present situation and future prospects in light of human wisdom and secular business metrics, or are they modified by God’s promises and the values of his kingdom?

Discerning Questions

Is reality the challenging state of your finances or the promise of God‘s abundant provision for you and the work He’s called you to?

Is reality your sense that you never have enough time to do everything you need to do or is it the promise that God always provides enough time to do the work for which He commissions us?

Is reality our sense of inadequacy to meet the challenges and demands of our work, or is it God’s promise that his strength will be made perfect in our weakness?

Is reality the sense of hopelessness we can feel when the challenges of the world and work overcome us, or is it God‘s promise that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness?

 Kingdom Lenses

As steward leaders it is certainly our job to define reality. The question is whether that reality is based on what we see and do or on what God is doing and promises to do in our midst?

My prayer is that as steward leaders we view our life and our work through the lenses of God’s promises, that our sense of reality would be shaped solely by the values of God‘s kingdom, the sovereignty of his power and the overwhelming presence of his love. If we can define reality always in these kingdom terms, we will bless our organizations and all the people we serve.


Scott Rodin  is president of The Steward’s Journey and Kingdom Life Publishing. He also runs Rodin Consulting, Inc. He is a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and is past board chair of ChinaSource and the Evangelical Environmental Network.

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