Essentials of Spiritual Leadership Part 1: Seek His Face

by Dr. Clarence Bradbury | 

What famous person do you dream of seeing in person, or even on facetime?

Maybe a famous athlete, author, preacher, actor, scientist or musician?  You probably know someone who would eagerly expend enormous energy just to get a 10-second selfie with a celebrity.  I know a family with a pre-teen daughter who is desperate for a ticket to see Taylor Swift LIVE in concert at Rogers Centre, Toronto this November. Her mom says she needs a ticket so bad! Well, after dishing out money for a 3,200 km roundtrip to Toronto, plus hotel and meal costs, she’ll have to lay out another $2,017 at least for a nosebleed seat that’s 350 feet from Swift!

Ten years ago when we lived near Toronto, we flew our grandson Josiah from Winnipeg to Toronto to see his favourite NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, and QB Matt Ryan, kick off against the Buffalo Bills. For 12-year-old Josiah, that was EPIC!

Grandfather and grandson take in the Falcons game in Toronto

If you had a wish-come-true, whose face would you most like to see? Now, I’m sure it’s not just me, but during the big upheavals of the past few years, it was very difficult to maintain focus.  The lack of face to face interaction with people, and our reliance on all things virtual often left us adrift and isolated. My wife Linda and I now crave more and more to interact and form deeper relationships with a widening circle of people.

During recent years, I’ve had a growing conviction that God invites us, in these tempestuous times, to seek His face and favour. 

As 2024 dawned, I was drawn to 1 Peter 1: 10

The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Establish is my theme, and it is dominated by God’s persistent and compelling call to seek His face.  I wonder, What does it mean to seek and see God’s face?  Is it even possible? And if I saw it, what would I in fact see?  

About 5 years ago psychologists at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, showed to 511 Christians many pairs of photos and asked: Which face looks more like God – this one or this one? This one or this one? The university study found that, out of all the Godlike mug shots, the aggregate result looked like this.

Our perception of the face of God

The results hint that our views of God reflect our own identities and biases. That is, we want a God that looks and thinks and feels like us.  We want a deity that is fashioned after our own likeness. I invite you to close your eyes and imagine with me, whose face, countenance or presence serves to point you to the face of God?  Whose life and example ushers you into God’s presence?

I think of my own family tree and the generations of God-chasers whose spiritual legacy laid the foundation for our Christian family.  How grateful we all are for those individuals who, through their inspiring example and teaching, lead us into the very presence of God.  

We routinely pray about many things – material provision, healing, comfort, wisdom, guidance – believing that God knows our need and desires to provide for us. We sometimes refer to these requests as seeking the “hand of God”, what God can do for us or give to us.

But there is a deeper relationship God desires to have with us. This is found through seeking the “face of God”, not primarily because the bible tells us to do it, but because God Himself wants to be known by us. Scripture is profusely clear on the matter:

“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me” (Proverbs 8:17)

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:24, 27).

Mary Lathbury’s song-prayer holds timeless relevance…  “Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee, Lord; my spirit pants (yearns) for Thee, O Living Word.” 

In Essentials of Spiritual Leadership 2, Facetime with Kavod, I will explore the question, “What is the nature and leadership implications of seeking God’s face?”

As we pursue the theme of God’s manifest presence in life and ministry, join me in prayer:

Eternal Father, we enter your holy presence with thanksgiving and praise. Thank you for calling us to seek your face. We ask you to grant us a fresh revelation of who you are and how much you love us. Show us Your face, and the light of your favour. Reveal Your heart and mind to us. Attune our ears to Your voice. We lift up our souls here and now, seeking Your presence. We are hungry for You. More of You is all we desire. Father, we seek You, not on our own merit, but only in the name of Jesus, who is the exact image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Holy Spirit, breathe life into our spirits and minister the heart of the Father to each one of us. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Author and Completion of our faith! Amen.

Dr. Clarence Bradbury