Leadership Devotion- April 2017
As I write this devotion, we find ourselves in the season of Lent. Apart from Sundays, this penitential time traditionally lasts forty days. Those forty days recall both the time Jesus spent fasting amid temptation in the desert, as well as the forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness—between captivity in Egypt and new life in the Promised Land.
Reflecting upon Christian leadership during this traditional period of self-examination and repentance, I am reminded of Moses’ leadership—along with the challenges he and those early Israelites faced as they sought to navigate an austere landscape, a fearsome present, and an uncertain future. And while there are many lessons we can draw from Moses’ leadership experiences and the ways his parallel our own, I’d like to share with you just a few key highlights that stuck out to me:
- The Call and Moses’ Excuses (Exod 3-4): Moses was called by God in a powerful way, to an incredible undertaking. But surprise, surprise, he wasn’t so sure he was up to the task! How many times have we heard the Spirit calling us to bold and ambitious leadership, only to be held back (or worse yet, dismiss that call outright) due to doubts and fears? Not only does Moses’ example offer reassurance that God will provide the help we need, but it also reminds us just how much we benefit from exercising the necessary humility and openness to accept the help God (and others) provide(s).
- The Golden Calf (Exod 32:15-20): Just like us, Moses often became frustrated—angry even—as he sought to remain faithful himself and lead the community on a godly path. This was a particular challenge given the doubts and anxiety that were rampant (and at times, arguably justifiable) among that early community of faith. Moses regularly prayed and pleaded with God: Ultimately he and the community he led could depend upon God alone to not only forgive, but to aid and accompany them on their way.
- The People Complain (Num 14:1-14): Let’s face it, over the course of that long and arduous journey, the going often got tough, tensions ran high, and stress was hardly in short supply. That said, Moses listened to lots of grousing and complaining as he strove to serve God and a sometimes faithless and stubborn people. Moses, though a great leader, even gave in to grousing and complaining himself! Over the course of his own leadership journey, he learns patience and a love for the people he serves. But his story reminds us these things take time to learn, and even for great leaders can represent frequent struggles! Further, when we find ourselves grousing or blowing off steam, it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to stew in our frustrations or become overwhelmed by them. Instead, we prayerfully strive to trust that God goes with us and that it’s all part of the journey!
- Moses’ Death (Deut 34:1-12): Moses spends nearly an entire lifetime leading the Israelites toward the Promised Land, but he never gets there himself! Just as we are, Moses was part of something much larger than he—God’s grand work of loving, saving, renewing, and reconciling all creation! There can be something really energizing about this if we are able to “keep our eye on the prize,” but we can admittedly get sucked into the little stuff and lose sight of the larger goal. At the end of Moses’ life, there are fruits of his labor he will never know. Yet, what he has achieved and experienced by God’s power is somehow enough. And as leadership passes to Joshua and the judges (and eventually to kings, prophets, Jesus, the disciples and so forth), we can take heart that God’s mission continues far beyond what we can see or achieve on our own!
I pray these reflections give you boldness and courage as you strive to faithfully lead—in whatever way God is calling and empowering you to do it! Blessed journey,
Pr. Rich Sheridan, Nebraska Synod Evangelist & Leadership Development Table Staff Liaison