Exploring the Divine Connection with Humanity

Thirty-plus years in camp, church, and non-profit ministry have a way of showing you how little you know—or at least that has been my experience.

Have you ever wondered, “What is God’s intent for humanity?” and why do we struggle so profoundly to live in it? Why do people treat each other the way we do? And why do we struggle to step more fully into all God is calling us to be and do? These are the questions that have sparked my curiosity and led me on a quest for answers.

Some questions turn into a quest, leading to research, reflection, and, for me, writing. Some books begin with a knowing. My books began with a wondering—and, if I am honest, with seasons of listening and lament. 

A Theology of Thriving grew out of one such a season.

I opened my Bible to read through it systematically, looking for God’s heart for humanity, and 15 years later, I was still in Genesis 1. In the creation account, we find at least three important and overlapping elements of what it means to be human. In a departure from the literary rhythm of the other creative acts, verse 26 begins, “Let us…make them.”

We are created from conversation. We are created from and invited into fellowship. We are designed to Belong.

The passage goes on to describe how we are made in the image of God, fingerprinted by the Divine and yet, each with our own unique fingerprint.

We are created to become our true selves. We are designed to Be.

And finally, we are given a phenomenal mandate—to partner with God in the work He is doing in stewarding the earth. We are designed to Contribute.

Yet sadly, many people, much of the time, feel alienated, putting on a false or shadow self to try to fit in or pretend they don’t care. Many people struggle to find what they are wired to bring to the table uniquely. The answers to these deep questions are not simple, but I truly believe that they are ultimately found in the restorative work of Christ and worked out in partnership with the Spirit.

The BRAVE Way also began with a question:

If the stats are true and women’s confidence peaks at age 9, hindering many, even deeply godly women, from stepping into all God is calling them to be and do, what can we do about that?

When subsequent research revealed that healthy teams of men and at least 30% of women are much more likely to see organizational and community transformation, I was hooked. Ten years later, a massive reading list and countless cups of tea were in focus groups in various countries, and themes began to emerge.

Moral Courage. Resilience. Action and Advocacy. Voice. Expanded Perspective and Influence. BRAVE.

God has blessed us with Brave groups of girls and women in Australia, New Zealand, and communities in northern and southern Ontario, BC, and Saskatchewan. We are now ready to release a Brave Leaders: Thriving Together program training facilitators to assist men and women to, as the name suggests, thrive together in the church and workplace.

Isn’t it amazing when God brings the threads and the questions of your life together?

These resources, and others, are available through the Briercrest Leadership Centre, which exists to help leaders, organizations, and communities thrive. We’d love to chat about whether we can assist your team in any way. 

Ellen Duffield

Ellen is Coordinator for the Paul E. Magnus Centre for Leadership Studies at Briercrest Seminary and an affiliate of Leader's Village. She is also the author of The Brave Way (2019) and blogs at bravewomen.ca.

theology faith & fellowship