John Lommel, Senior Director of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness at LeTourneau, considers the biblical place of assessment in God's Kingdom. In Part 2 of a three-part series, he describes the difference between many business assessment models and the Shalom-centered assessment described in the Bible.
The previous article discussed how assessment practices and understanding depend on one’s telos, or understanding of the good life and human flourishing. The Christian understanding of the “good life” rests within the Story of God revealed in Scripture, the gospel, and how people fit within that story. This telos is the vision of God’s Kingdom. This vision is accomplished through obedient discipleship that partners with God’s redemptive work throughout creation. The Kingdom vision of the “good life” creates a Hope-filled, Shalom-centered, Love-inspired assessment practices.
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is declaring that the new creation has begun with its consummation in God’s fulfillment of a new heaven and new earth. Hope has its eyes fixed on the New Heaven and New Earth where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Moltman, 1993). This hope never allows Christians to settle for the current reality or accept the world in its present state. In fact, we are designed to be agents of the transformation of this earth, “anticipating the when, as we are promised, ‘the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Wright, 2008). As Holy Spirit empowered people, we are to fulfill our purpose to govern over creation and be a blessing to others, so that the Kingdom becomes realized. Hope in the Kingdom of God shapes the image of the goals, vision, planning, and purpose we have for assessment. No longer does assessment center only on compliance, efficiency, or resource accumulation. Assessment centers on developing Shalom.
The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of Shalom. “To dwell in shalom is to find delight in living rightly before God, to find delight in living rightly in one’s physical surroundings, to find delight in living rightly with one’s fellow human beings, to find delight even in living rightly with oneself” (Wolterstroff, 2004, pg. 23). This vision of just relationships filled with delight is the vision of the Kingdom of God and the telos of people. My colleague, Dr. Luke Tallon, states “Shalom is shorthand for the accomplishment of God’s purposes in the world.” Shalom-centered assessment frames everything in terms of how you and your business are advancing the redemptive work of God in the world. The process should reveal practices that promote shalom and practices that hinder shalom within the lives of employees, customers, neighbors, and the world. The desire to achieve shalom comes from the love we are to have for God and others.
Our love for God, based on His love for us, should inspire participation in his redemptive work in the world as we await consummation of God’s Kingdom. This participation means we work to develop righteous relationships with God, with others, with creation, and within ourselves. God’s love allows us to be called children of God, who then practice righteousness as children (I John 3:1-10). The love of God leads us to love others (I John 4:7-21). Love for others means that we serve them so they can flourish, or achieve their created purpose. As we have seen, human flourishing only exists within God’s kingdom and will. Therefore, love is the active work to see the shalom come to fulfillment in the lives of our employees, co-workers, supervisors, family members, communities and churches. Shalom-centered assessment leads to love-infused decisions and modifications for our supervisors, employees and world so that they and we may experience the flourishing of the Kingdom of God.
This vision of assessment differs from the many business assessment models as it may lead to activities which do not maximize profits. However, this version of assessment is prophetic. Prophetic assessment critiques the current visions of “the good life,” while providing a vision of the promised Kingdom of God (Brueggemann, 1978). However, hope-filled, shalom-centered, love-infused assessment is not natural, but requires deliberate practices and discipline to achieve.
Brueggemann, W. (1978). The prophetic imagination. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
Moltmann, J. (1993). Theology of hope. Minneaplois, MN: Fortress Press.
Wolterstorff, N. (2004). Educating for shalom: Essays on Christian higher education. Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Wright, N.T. (2008). Surprised by hope: Rethinking Heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. New York, NY: HarperOne.