Managing Up God

I was in a meeting a couple of weeks ago. Conversation was occurring and I elected to add my perspective for consideration. I suggested that “managing up” is a sound principle that may assist with some of the expectations we have that we’ve not expressed to those in positions that are more elevated. As I reflected upon that engagement, the Holy Spirit slipped in and shared that I haven’t been using my “managing up” tactics with God. Like for real, that’s what we’re doing?! So okay. The Holy Spirit jumps in and performs a redirect. Let me gather myself. So, managing up is a practice that subordinates often use with their manager. Simply put it is developing a workable relationship with your boss. It involves communicating, sharing, providing detail and learning your boss’ style of leading and their expectations. Told y’all I wasn’t ready. Then the Holy Spirit directed me to several key scriptures to emphasize the message. As the songwriter pinned, “Buckle up buttercup!”

Are we ready to live in the truth that the ownness of managing up both in God in life is heavily reliant upon the subordinate? The essence is skewed toward relationship. We cannot begin to fathom how the Lord moves and what pleases God when we’ve not attempted to be close. Romans 5:8 reads, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That was the beginning of the relationship. Understandably so, we can never do anything that counters the love Christ had for us, but we can reverence the action such to the extent that we supplement with loving God in return. Our love won’t look like God’s. It can’t. Yet it begins and is sustained with our recognition of Jesus assuming our sin and in exchange wants nothing but our imperfect, biased, filthy expression early and often. Second, we must trust God to be God. We must assume His trustworthiness at face value. We cannot wait for God to do something in order for us to believe in His faithfulness. As we trust God, we. come to rely upon His wisdom. Proverbs 11:14 reads, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” God possesses the abundance of our counseling and He has positioned others around us to carry out this promise. To what extent might we trust God to be God, minus manipulation?! Third, we must work in such a way that reflects the One who hired us, the One who called us. Evidence found in Colossians 3:23 affirms, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Are we in these streets attempting disastrously to impress people? When we work as unto God, we are demonstrating a posture and practice of honoring the Holy One. And allow me to interject a secret here. God responds to what we do to honor Him. Fourth, God desires for us to act with wisdom. Ephesians 5:15-17 declares, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Whether at work, in the sanctuary, with our family, in high or low places, God expects us to use what He’s deposited. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come all at once, but as we are granted the gift of wisdom, might we be empowered to use it accordingly.

At first glance, it would be presumptuous of me to assume I could manage anything as related to God. Yet again, the temperament of one who manages up is essentially managing their own behavior in relation to the one who manages them. If I am doing essentially what I need to do, I needn’t worry about the response of someone else. Managing up requires relationship, trust, a posture of good work and wisdom. I wish I could tell you that this combination works perfectly in such a way that you can anticipate great results on behalf of your earthly manager. Sadly, I cannot grant you a guarantee; but in relation to the One who manages from heaven, I can offer that following what the Holy Spirit directed here is again more for us. It allows us to nestle in the business of acting and moving in such a way that glorifies God. It allows us to be active in what we desire God to actualize. Does managing up always get us what we want? Sadly not in life, nor in God. Yet again, does managing up release us from guilt that we’ve done all we can with what we’ve been granted? Absolutely. It allows us to manage ourselves. In the things of God, we can manage ourselves through prayer, worship, following the Word of God and operating in a spirit of forgiveness. Each of these practices collectively usher us into relationship, trust, a posture of good wok and wisdom, which sets us up for the attention of God, not because of performative measures but because we are demonstrating our response to the God who responds to His Word.

Afterthought: The Holy Spirit directed me to examine the hour glass in the photo to remind me that even in managing up, I am not in charge of the time by which God responds. Bruh, seriously?!