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Biblical Lessons in Leadership

Biblical Lessons in Leadership

A pastor's personal connection with the story of Moses and how it relates to feeling doubt and reluctance, but getting the job done anyway.

"A small step of faith is always better than a large step of doubt."

Although this author has been a pastor for nearly twenty-five years, I still remember the first Bible class I was ever asked to teach. It was a Wednesday night class for 3- and 4-year-olds at the church of my youth.

My friend, Wally, and I were recruited (or volunteered) to teach a thirteen-week class on famous Old Testament characters. These were the all-stars of the Old Testament: Abraham, Joseph, Noah, Moses, and David, among others.

After the first night, when much of our time and energy was spent on crowd control (a losing battle), Wally looked at me and asked, "What if we screw this up? What if we accidently tell them that Moses built the ark and they live the rest of their lives believing Moses actually built the ark instead of Noah?"

"You mean Moses didn't build the ark?" I quipped. We both laughed, but with an immediate awareness of our obligation to tell the stories accurately. We knew it was unlikely that any of the kids would remember either of us, but we both hoped they would remember the faith of Abraham and the courage of Esther.

Those Old Testament characters have found their way into many of my sermons and classes. As a leader, I have found myself returning to one story in particular: the story of Moses. This godly man is a living picture of the kind of leader God seeks. Far from perfect, Moses begins like many of us (reluctantly), stumbles along the way, and tries to finish well.

Of the 66 books in the Bible, Moses is mentioned in 32 of them. When Moses came into leadership, the Hebrews had been in Egypt for 430 years and had grown to over 2 million people. Imagine the challenge Moses faced: To lead a group of people that he did not want to lead in a task for which he had never volunteered.

How did Moses respond to God's call? "Lord, send someone else" (Exodus 4:13).

Even though Moses had been selected by God to lead God's people, Moses still had to accept the task of leadership. Being selected by God does not always lead to enthusiasm or eagerness; in fact, it can often lead to reluctance.

Have you ever dreamed of doing something, but haven't because you felt inadequate or unprepared? Then you and Moses might have more in common than you think. What makes the leadership story of Moses so compelling is this: God can use us even when we think we're not ready to be used.

Despite every objection that Moses threw at God during the burning bush conversation, the bottom line was God's people needed a leader and God was asking Moses to be that leader. Rest assured, there will be times when God calls us to accept a challenge for which we don't feel prepared.

When God calls you to a task, he is willing to use his mighty hand to help you succeed. He promises to go with us:

But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I am has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:11-14)

We learn from Moses that to be effective, we must take our eyes off our weaknesses and focus on God's strengths. At some point as a leader, you have to move from operating out of doubt to operating out of faith. The good news is: a small step of faith is always better than a large step of doubt.

As Moses neared the end of his life, he had a successor, Joshua, stand before him and all of Israel. His words reflect a man who had grown considerably as a leader from his first conversation with God over a burning bush:

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)

Through ups and downs, Moses had learned the most important principle of spiritual leadership: When God is on your side, you do not need to be afraid or discouraged.

May each of us live to see Moses' prayer answered in our own lives: "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us yes, establish the work of our hands." (Psalm 90)

KEN HENSLEY is senior pastor at Mountainview Christian Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. He has led churches in San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Denver. He serves on the Board of Directors for Church Planters of the Rockies.


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