The Quiet Impact of Christlikeness on the Future of America


The Quiet Impact of Christlikeness
on the Future of America
David Bryant

David Brooks, respected New York Times columnist, acclaimed student of American culture, and a new Jesus follower, wrote a piece titled “The Quiet Magic of Middle Managers” in April 2024.

His analysis of how these millions of unsung heroes of our land are bringing the “magic” of unity and promoting healing and renewal amid our currently fragmented, confused, and demoralized nation gave me fresh hope.

Here’s why:

Brooks’ SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS of these quiet and often unassuming workers, found in every segment of our national life, serve as potent reminders of the more profound power of vibrant, biblical Christlikeness to which all Jesus followers are called.

Exhibiting the fullness of all these seven qualities IS Christlikeness—and doing it as God’s people throughout the Church promises more than the “magic” Brooks talks about.

Christlikeness presents the promise of a way to intimately but significantly impact and transform the very future life of our nation as it advances the gospel and saving reign of Jesus Christ.

Let me show you what I mean. This new “conversation” will give you renewed hope!—because  Christlikeness is at the core of the American CHRIST Awakening for which so many are praying.

Middle managers are found in every sphere of our national life—industry, government, banking, education, religion, etc. Brooks says of them (emphasis added):

Amid a wider national atmosphere of division, distrust, bitterness and exhaustion, these managers are the frontline workers who try to resolve tensions and keep communities working, their teams united and relationships afloat.

. . . I’m beginning to think that these members of the managerial class, spread across the institutions of society, are serving as the invisible glue that gives us a shot at sticking together.

In other words, in many ways, the surviving and future thriving of our currently fragmented, confused, and demoralized nation may lie with these millions of unsung workers, often referred to as “middle managers.”

How do these managers work their “magic,” Brooks asks?

His answers provide an excellent validation of the power of CHRISTLIKENESS to transform the dynamics of life in our country.

What if God’s redeemed people across our land began to exhibit a more fulsome, daily manifestation of a Spirit-injected Christlikeness wherever they go and whatever they do?

What if Brooks’ tally of these seven characteristics of the “magic” of middle managers became the hallmark of every Jesus follower—only on a much deeper and more powerful level because the source and focus of each mark pointed to Jesus’ indwelling life and reign among his followers?

What if American Christians just looked more like Jesus—experiencing what Paul describes in Philippians 1 as “Christ MANIFESTED” in our daily physical lives and routines?

What if believers everywhere “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ” as the early disciples did—first of all, making him more attractive and more compelling to our fellow citizens just by who we are? (See 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.)

What if believers everywhere “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ” as the early disciples did—first of all, making him more attractive and more compelling to our fellow citizens just by who we are? (See 2 Corinthians 2:14-16.)

What impact would all that have on the path America takes throughout the rest of 2024 and beyond?

As I said, the good news is that CHRISTLIKENESS is at the core of the American CHRIST Awakening for which millions are now praying.

Therefore, let me invite the renowned columnist to help us get a sense of the potential here.

Seven Marks of Christlikeness
That Would Impact the Future of America


David Brooks writes to middle managers: “If you help your people become the best versions of themselves, the results you seek on the job will take care of themselves.”

This is precisely what Jesus is doing with each of us daily, as he continues to form us more and more into his image through the Holy Spirit. In the process, we are becoming the best versions of all the Father intended us to be in creating and redeeming us.

To be CHRISTLIKE is to do the same for everyone around us—by helping Christians mature more and more in Christ and by leading nonbelievers to give their lives to Christ so they can begin growing in him.


David Brooks writes to middle managers: “Morally healthy communities habituate people to behave in certain ways and make it easier to be good.”

During his three years of earthly ministry, Jesus set the moral tone for his followers that fortified them to pursue a life of love, godliness, courage, and justice in the ensuing decades of their own ministry for him.

To be CHRISTLIKE is to exhibit a way of life that creates a climate of moral consistency and purity of motives for those around us. This is consistent with the lifestyle that defines those raised with Christ to become instruments of God’s righteous purposes (see Romans 6:11-13).

Consider the experience of the church in Thessalonica. Having come to Jesus only six months earlier, this band of believers had already impacted the entire region of Greece and beyond.

How? Paul tells us: “We always thank God for all of you . . . [for] your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). It was the uplifting spiritual climate they created together that empowered their witness to their generation.

Go and be CHRISTLIKE that way!


David Brooks writes this about middle managers:

They are not self-centered but cast the beam of their care on others, making them feel seen and lit up. How you see me is how I come to see myself. If you cast a just and loving attention on people, they blossom.

Remember how Jesus told Simon at the outset that he was changing his name to Peter, “the rock,” because Jesus knew that’s what he would ultimately become for the Christian movement. From that time forward, there was not a moment when Peter was not aware of Jesus’ seeing him, caring for him, challenging him, and developing him. Peter blossomed as a result.

That can be equally claimed about all of us! Jesus saw you and me before the ages began. He then focused on us in his redeeming work, now intercedes for us as he reigns for us, and by the Spirit dwells among us and ministers to us. Talk about “attentiveness!” We are SEEN by the living Savior—each one who belongs to him.

To be CHRISTLIKE is to be similarly attentive toward others—to make sure every person you touch in your journey knows that you see them. Show them you value them, care for them, honor them, affirm them, believe in them, and want the best for them. Why? They are profoundly special to you as someone created in God’s image and for whom Christ died.


David Brooks writes to middle managers:

We like to believe that it’s our fancy pronouncements that have a big impact on others. But what usually gets communicated most deeply is the leader’s smallest gestures — the casual gifts of politeness, the little compliment or, on the other hand, the cold shoulder of thoughtlessness.

Just hours before the cross, Jesus told his disciples to love one another in the same way he had shown his love for them over their three years together. He not only taught them about love but also modeled it every day, which had an equal or even greater impact than just his words on the future of their own ministries.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).” In doing so, he defined another characteristic of CHRISTLIKENESS, which is this:

Every Christian should make it their goal to act and speak to those around us in the same way we imagine Jesus would if he were standing in our place—so that people might have a “model” of what it means to live a life that glorifies God. Seeing is believing; seeing is also receiving. Show them what the Jesus who wants to save them looks like!


David Brooks writes about middle managers: “There comes a time in the lives of many managers when the capacity to guide and foster the next generation is more rewarding than just serving themselves.”

Jesus sent his disciples out on their own to carry out their first preaching mission and then debriefed their experience with them when they returned. That’s what mentoring looks like.

Notice how Brooks’ definition of this way to serve others comes through so clearly time and again in Jesus’ methodology. For example, after washing the disciples’ feet, he told them they should do the same for each other. “I’ve shown you how. Now you try it!”

On a far deeper level, in the outpouring of the Spirit upon God’s people, the Father was indicating quite clearly that he intends to bring us into such intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ that each day could be marked as “being alive in the Spirit” and therefore “walking in the Spirit” (as Paul puts it in Galatians 5). In other words, Jesus’ mentorship has never ceased—even as we see how he mentors the seven struggling congregations of Asia Minor one by one in Revelation 2 and 3.

On a far deeper level, in the outpouring of the Spirit upon God’s people, the Father was indicating quite clearly that he intends to bring us into such intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ that each day could be marked as “being alive in the Spirit” and therefore “walking in the Spirit” (as Paul puts it in Galatians 5). In other words, Jesus’ mentorship has never ceased—even as we see how he mentors the seven struggling congregations of Asia Minor one by one in Revelation 2 and 3.

In the same way, to be CHRISTLIKE is to assume a similar role with individual brothers and sisters in Christ that the Father brings to us. We are to pass on to them everything we have received from Jesus during our walk with him—what we have seen, learned, and experienced through our relationship with him.

This replication is utterly strategic for spreading the gospel. As Paul told Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). This is how the Kingdom advances in a community or nation.


David Brooks writes to middle managers:

If you’re going to last in a life of sacrificial service, you have to treat it as something as normal as doing the dishes. The same humility is observed in the best organizations — the willingness to do the uncelebrated work, day after day.

Clearly, it is in Jesus that we see what true humility involves—both in its purity and in its power. After all, the greatest act of humility the world has ever known was displayed when the eternal Son of God emptied himself of all prerogatives as God and was found in human flesh as a baby—born to give his life that we might be saved. “He who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Imagine what would happen in this nation—or just in your community—if all true Jesus followers would respond to Peter’s exhortation to CHRISTLIKENESS: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Even before we try to share the gospel with those around us, what if we Christians were known generally as people with humble, servant hearts? It’s one of the ways Brooks says middle managers succeed. But our servanthood would be a level higher because we are empowered in that lifestyle by the Spirit, who, in humility, has become a servant to us. What if that was our reputation as Christians in every part of American society? How would that change the way Americans interact concerning critical national issues—like our politics, for example?


David Brooks writes about middle managers:

We assume we are being judged on our competence, but mostly we are judged on our warmth. Ethical leaders communicate joyfulness in what they do and attract followers in part by showing pleasure.

In many places, the Bible declares that all Jesus followers are to “rejoice evermore” and “rejoice without ceasing.” Why did the outcasts of Jewish society not only feel accepted by Jesus but regularly invite him to join them in their festivities, to eat and fellowship with them. Surely, at least in part, it was because he was winning them over to himself by the joyfulness he found in always serving his Father.

Remember that moment when the disciples were excited about how successful their missionary trip had been? We read in Luke 10 that Jesus’ response was all about joy. He said (Luke 10:20-21, NIV):

“However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” At that time, Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have . . . revealed [these things] to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

Above all, Hebrews 12 tells us that the joy Jesus felt about what his death on the cross would ultimately accomplish for all of God’s people and all creation for all ages to come emboldened him to walk the path of suffering with resolve.

There’s nothing more CHRISTLIKE than spending every day overflowing with joy in who Jesus is, where Jesus is headed, what Jesus is doing, and how Jesus is being exalted—joy in how fully God has placed every believer in the very center of all of that!

From the day of our salvation, we were meant to be “filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Consider what Brooks claims from his research about the fundamental changes that joyfulness displayed by the manager can bring about in an organization. How much more could Christians transform the world around them if we were marked by a contagious “joy in the Lord,” our reigning redeemer, celebrating all we have in him day by day.

Conclusion: Christlikeness and the Future of America

At the close of his column last week, David Brooks applied the critical need for these marks of middle managers to where our nation finds itself right now, writing in his conclusion:

America’s founding fathers understood that when private virtue fails, then relationships fail and the constitutional order crumbles. The crucial struggle of our time is not merely the global macro struggle between democracy and authoritarianism; it’s the day-to-day micro-contest between the forces that honor human dignity and those that spread dehumanization.

If his analysis is correct, then never has CHRISTLIKENESS been more needed in believers—of all denominations and persuasions, of all races and ethnicities, whether Democrats or Republicans or Independents—as we engage in this lifestyle as our greatest contribution in what Brooks calls the “micro-contest” going on right now for the soul of our nation (although to many of us, it feels more “macro,” frankly).

Any astute observer of American culture today would have to conclude that we as a nation are coming apart at the seams in many ways. Tragically, the American Church is exhibiting this unraveling as dramatically as any other segment of our society.

For the sake of the future of our nation, even more for the sake of the future of the church’s mission in our nation—and above all, for exalting the name and fame and reign of our Lord Jesus Christ—we urgently need a whole new level of widespread, pervasive CHRISTLIKENESS, fashioned and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be displayed by millions of Jesus followers from coast to coast.

Not only is that at the heart of what we ask for when we pray for a God-given American CHRIST Awakening, but it would itself be a genuine form of a Christ Awakening!

Of course, these seven marks are only the beginning of all that a CHRISTLIKE life looks like. But thanks to our Christian brother David Brooks, they provide a very promising starting place.

Let’s go for it together!

FOLLOW-UP: View this 65-second video: “You Have a Place in God’s Plan for

About the Author

Over the past 50 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ Awakening movements. Download his widely read ebooks at Enjoy hundreds of podcast episodes. Watch his weekly vlogs at David Bryant REPORTS. Meet with David through Zoom or in-person events through David Bryant LIVE!


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