A note from Kelly King: God definitely accomplishes His purposes through leaders who are obedient to some “out of the box” directions He gives. I love how guest writer Gayla Parker includes some of these examples in today’s article about leadership. The line that says, “out of the box obedience led to out of the ordinary victories” is a reminder that our leadership is found first in following a creative and perfect God. If you’re a leader looking for an out of the box learning experience, register today for an upcoming You Lead event.
Coaches, advertisers, and even doctors have all said, “It is time to think outside of the box” at least once in their careers. Have you ever wondered what exactly that means? For the coach it might mean a trick play. For the advertiser it could be using social media or talking animals. For the doctor it may translate into adding elements other than medication to a patient’s treatment. Wikipedia states, “it is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. The term is thought to derive from management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s…This phrase can also be found commonly in dance, as encouragement to move creatively, beyond simple, geometric box steps and their basic variations, to literally step outside the box into more complex patterns of expression.” As a former dance instructor, the dance illustration really resonates with me. There is nothing more harmonious and beautiful than two dancers dancing in complete trust, harmony, and unison with one another taking dance to an entirely new level outside of the box, creating all things new.
The metaphor may have been used for the first time by management consultants, but the idea has been used since the beginning of time by the very One who created the universe without a box—God. The best out-of-the box thinkers (leaders) are perhaps the faithful followers of God that are seen throughout the Bible.
- Gideon defeated an army of thousands with an army of three hundred (Judges 7).
- Joshua destroyed a city wall by walking around the wall rather than placing dynamite around it (Joshua 6).
- Nehemiah built a wall in 52 days using amateurs rather than professionals (Nehemiah 6:15).
- Moses used a rod to part the Red Sea rather than building a bridge (Exodus 14:21) and to bring water from a rock rather than digging a well (Exodus 17:6).
- A little boy gave his few fishes and loaves to Jesus to feed 5,000, and there were leftovers (Matthew 14:13-21).
How did they come up with these out of the box ideas? They were obedient to God’s call on their lives. Their out of the box obedience led to out of the ordinary victories. They “danced” outside the box in complete trust, harmony, and unison with God.
When Joshua took over as leader of the Israelites, God gave this instruction: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
Innovative thinking is not about thinking outside the box. It is trusting the One who has no box to lead you as you “dance together” in complete trust, harmony, and unison with HIM. New ideas, bold moves, and risks are all scary things. But if they are Spirit led, they are the only safe thing. Perhaps you have“stayed at this mountain long enough” (Deuteronomy 1:6) for comfort and familiarity, and now it is time to be bold and courageous and “take possession of the land that the Lord promised” (Deuteronomy 1:8). I promise, and even more so God promises, He will be “with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Are you ready to step “outside the box” and dance with God like never before? Those watching will “all be amazed and glorify God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” (Mark 2:12).
Gayla Parker has served for over 30 years in ministry in various roles. This fall she will be joining the staff of Ouachita Baptist University teaching Women’s Ministry. She is the author of two books and a contributing writer for the revised The Devotional for Women coming this fall. She loves being in God’s Word, sharing Jesus, running, and spending time with family and friends.