Being (or not being) Moses

I don’t know if I could have been Moses.

Not because I don’t think I could go and talk to Pharaoh, or because I am afraid of a staff turning into a snake, or because I don’t think I could lead a group of people who grumble all the time. I don’t think I could be Moses, not because of the typical stories we associate with Moses, but because of a lesser known story; his interaction with Jethro.

If you don’t remember the story, let me take a minute to refresh you.

Moses had become the sole arbitrator of tension and conflict among the Israelites. Moses would wake everyday, take his seat as the judge and the arbitrate till evening. People would line up and mill around all day hoping Moses would get an opportunity to hear their case. When Jethro saw this he pulled Moses aside and said, “Your going to kill yourself! Pick out some people you trust to do what you are doing.” Jethro proceeded to outline a system for Moses to put in place so that he could serve solely as the judge between God and the people.

No longer would Moses be the sole arbitrator of the people.  No longer would he be looked to for all the decisions.  No longer would he be seen as the guy with all the answers.

That’s where it would be hard for me to be Moses.

It would have been hard because the moment Jethro would have rolled out his idea I would have known he was right. I know it would have made complete sense and it should be done.

And that’s when the voices would start.

“You idiot! Why didn’t you think of that?!?”

“How can you expect to lead the people if you couldn’t see that obvious solution?”

“Am I fooling myself in thinking I am the one God has chosen for this role?”

Much of my identity has been rooted in how well I perform. It isn’t just about performing well, but it also about being better than others. I have to be honest and say there is an inherent competitiveness to much of what drives me. The competitiveness naturally leads to a winner and loser. And if I am not the smartest, if I don’t come up with the solution, if I am not the strongest chain in the link then I am the loser. My identity then is based on how well or how poorly I perform.

This has devastating consequences on leadership. I have always been told that the best leaders surround themselves with the best people possible. But if you are going to do that, then you better be secure in who you are. Because if your identity is based upon being the best, then you aren’t going to put the best people around you lest they outshine you and dethrone you as the best.  Our anxiety has a profound impact on how we operate in the world.  More acutely, our anxiety can influence us to not make decisions that should be made because of our need to preserve a false identity we believe about ourselves.

I have yet to meet the person who is not allowing themselves to be defined by a false identity.  What do I mean by “false identity”?  As I noted above, my identity was often based on how well I performed.  But that’s not who I am.  I am not how I perform.  That is a false identity.  I am an adopted son of the most high God.  I am the brother of Jesus.  I am someone who was created for a unique purpose in the world.  That’s the identity that should shape me.  That’s the identity that should dictate and drive my actions in the world.  Far too often I forsake my true identity for the false identity, and when I do, my leadership becomes as effective as a flashlight against the sun.

The only way I could be Moses and accept Jethro’s advice without hearing those demeaning and demoralizing voices is if my identity is found solely in Christ.  Only then can I be who God has created me to be.  Only then will I lead out of who I am rather than out of fear or anxiety.

And here’s my guess, the effectiveness of leadership laws or tactics or steps will pale in comparison to leading out of who God has made me to be.


One thought on “Being (or not being) Moses

  1. I think we most often way underestimate what happened in the fall of the 1st Adam, and the nature we inherited because of that fall. After all, it was so cataclysmic that it took God’s direct intervention to undo the damage . If I remember correctly, it was the most beautiful Lucifer’s desire to take God’s “image bearing” creature to the same place where he himself had chosen to go………… be in competition with the creator of both of them, to be equal or at least “not under” this creator.
    Down inside most of us is still a strong desire to not be “under” or at least not be too common. Interesting struggle for us who call ourselves Christ followers, after all, wasn’t it Christ who stooped the lowest, willingly humbled Himself to the greatest degree? I am sure this a struggle we will fight most every day of our earthly life if we wish to persevere as true followers of Christ. I think it is never beaten completely down as long as the fight between the “new nature” and the “old nature” remains in us. The good news is that we do have a holy spirit which dwells in us, and we do have the ability to win that battle on a daily basis. Fortunate for us Christ has ultimately won that battle for us in God’s court.

    All of that to say I have never known a pastor (in the U.S.), who did not have the issue to deal with that you mention in this blog. The problem I have witnessed is that some don’t see a need to struggle with it, they just think it is their “right” to feel that way because after all, don’t all these other humans look up to them for all of their wisdom and cleverness ? To “struggle” with it at least means it is acknowledged, and hopefully confessed to God, asking for His help in dying to it.
    I know a Christian leader who has admitted this to be his greatest struggle in being a Godly leader, he starts every day by confessing the need to God and asking for deliverance from it on that day.
    For those of us who have never had the “audience”, the “platform” etc… being a nobody is a very freeing place to be. Usually just our wife who must put up with our “platform”, ” need to be right” issue on daily basis. Ultimately it is about being satisfied with the overwhelming fact that we are called sons of the living God, the God who knew us in our mother’s womb, the God from whom nothing is hidden, including the really ugly of who we are. He chose to love us even after the great fall. Maybe we are not overwhelmed enough by that fact !

    Keep thinking, keep fighting the fight , keep persevering !

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