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Leading a Project when You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

by | Jan 22, 2016

How do you succeed in a project when the stakes are high, you don’t have relevant experience and you are in a context completely outside of your normal environment?

We have all been there. We might have a clear idea of what we want, but there just doesn’t seem to be a logical place to start and we have very little information through which to narrow our focus.

In Genesis 24 we get a picture of how to respond faithfully in this circumstance. Abraham’s servant is tasked to find a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac.

The stakes are high: Isaac is the “child of promise,” the line through which God would build a nation to bless the world.

There is not a clear precedent: how many times had this servant played matchmaker?


And the context and criteria are tough: he is tasked to find the wife among the people in Abraham’s homeland, which just happens to be a long camel ride away in a land unfamiliar to the servant. This potential wife would have to be both of Abraham’s extended family AND willing to leave her family to go to a place she’d never been to marry a man she’d never met.

But (spoiler alert), he is successful. God leads him to Rebekah, who ends up being the perfect wife for Isaac.

So how does he find success here?

  • He gets very clear direction on what success looks like from his boss (Genesis 24:1-8)
  • He prepares for the project immediately (Genesis 24:9-11)
  • He asks God to lead him in a specific way (Genesis 24:12-14)
  • He recognizes God’s activity and gives him praise (Genesis 24:26-27, 52)
  • He gives appropriate respect and honor to all parties involved (Genesis 24:33-51)
  • He stays focused on the result and follows through (Genesis 24:54-58)

While it’s easy to simply read the Genesis narrative as a distant story, it’s important to remember that these are real people in real situations trying to work out their faith in making real decisions. How God moves in these situations provides a window into his character and his ways. How the people in this narrative faithfully respond (or don’t respond) provides a window into our own behavior. We can learn a lot from Abraham’s servant.

What about you? Where have you seen God at work in your difficult projects?

 

Ben Kirksey

Ben Kirksey is the Chief Operating Officer for Workmatters and Director of Workmatters Institute. He is a graduate of the University of Arkansas (2006, Economics and Political Science), and alumnus of Teach for America. He realized a passion for integrating faith and work while at Northstar Partnering Group (now Field Agent™) and subsequently co-founded the Workmatters Institute in 2010, joining Workmatters to lead the Institute full time in 2013.