A CALL TO SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

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In this write-up, we are looking at the call to spiritual leadership, through the example of Moses (in Exodus 3:1-14). We will reflect on the life, and call of Moses- the prophet, priest, lawgiver, and leader.

Moses’s 40-year leadership experience has a lot to teach us today on how God raises, equips, and uses leaders to accomplish his purposes.

This all happened in a context when the people of Israel were facing oppression in a foreign land. The goal is to learn some leadership principles that we can apply in our lives, families, church, and workplaces.

Leadership principles we can learn from the life of Moses:

I. Spiritual Leadership Begins with an Encounter with God

Moses’ call to leadership began with an encounter with God during the burning bush experience (Ex. 3). Moses heard God’s voice and responded to it.  In Mt. Horeb, God revealed himself to him…

God’s call comes with demands. Often God’s call to himself demands that we leave a life of sin, self-centeredness, and pride and cling to God. Moses’ calling involved liberating the nation of Israel in Egyptian slavery.

God begins by working/renovating the heart of the leader. This is an important step in spiritual leadership.

Read: Hearing God Speak

Read Hindrances to Hearing God

II. At His Timing, God Raises Leaders-

God raises/sends leaders at God’s appointed time in history (Read Ex. 3:7-10).

Israelites had cried to God for over 400 years for their deliverance from the tyrannical powers of Pharaoh, but, it took several generations for that to happen. In other words, they had to wait for the revelation of God’s appointed time.

God had- Seen their misery…heard their cries…and was concerned… and had come to rescue them. Even now, God still lives, cares, and delivers…

Moses had prematurely sought to correct an injustice by killing an Egyptian but it backfired, because he was doing it his own way (not God’s way), and at the wrong time.

In leadership, the concept of timing (seasons) is important. David understood this truth when he refrained from killing King Saul, when the right opportunity presented itself. David knew that he had been anointed by God, and although king Saul hunted him down, David knew that Saul’s hatred would not erase God’s anointing over his life. He exclaimed, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” 2 Sam. 24:6

Severally, during his ministry, Jesus sought to maintain secrecy of his work (Mk. 5:43; 7:36; 8:25), and identity (Mk. 1:25,34; 3:12; 5:7). Why? Although he had nothing to hide about his work and identity; Jesus knew that his time (God’s appointed time) had not yet come. God executes his eternal plans at his based on his calendar, not ours.

We need wisdom to be able to understand the timings; and in most cases, to slow down for our own good. It is possible that you may be a God-appointed leader, but you need to wait for God’s timing.  Present failure may not mean disqualification or denial by God, but that perhaps you have to wait, or ask God to prepare you more, or God is calling you now to another assignment.

God plans what we are to do and also, he has organized the right time for us to do it.

As we seek wisdom on God’s timing for us to lead, we need to remember to support those God has presently chosen to be at the front-line.

III. God Raises leaders for Particular Situations

All situations are in God’s hands. In the hands of God who is all-knowing and wise. And based on this, God, in his wisdom and knowledge, raises leaders, and equips them will requisite skillset and ability to confront the situation at hand.

The situation at hand in Moses’s case was the mistreatment Israelites were going through. God raised up Moses through his life experiences to be able to face this task when the time has fully come. God shapes/prepares leaders to be able to handle people, and situations of success and failure.

Preparation period for service took 80yrs, in these years God equipped him for his next assignment. In the household of Pharaoh, he received good education, though pagan. In the wilderness, he must have learned in solitude to conquer self and be a servant (Ex. 2:16-17).

He prepares us by equipping us with what is required in order that his purposes prevail. In the time of Esther, he gave Esther beauty and orchestrated events in order she may be elevated to the palace, so that she may rescue Jews from the danger of annihilation. He gave Nehemiah to administrative skill, and position at the kings court in preparation for the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem.

Remember, that also God can raise evil/pagan leaders! He can use them to judge, or to display his power and purposes (he is the same God who raised up Pharaoh, and Moses).

He raises leaders with a heart for a cause at hand. Often, these leaders have gone the same journey (in one way or another) God is asking them to take others.

So, some leaders are raised to bring healing, peace, manage, justice, expand, and other are raised to punish sin, restore, destroy. God knows when and how to raise these leaders at various seasons. He raised Moses to lead the nation of Israel through wilderness but chose Joshua to settle them in the promised land. He gives these leaders grace to manage, and steer through the challenges of leadership.

These leaders identify a cause/need and within it create their legacies.

IV. God often Chooses the Unlikely-

Men look for qualified people, but God chooses the unqualified so that he can qualify them.

Based on his self-assessment, Moses felt inadequate to lead the nation of Israel. He knew he was not a perfect leader. It was, ‘no way,’ ‘not me.’ ‘wrong address.’ He lacked self-confidence.

He Gave a Number of Excuses (Ex. 3:11-15; 4:1-16)

  • I’m a nobody– ‘Who am I?’ (3:11)- He thought of himself as unworthy and inadequate. He did not have any to appear before; he cannot command a hearing. But God promised his presence (3:12).
  • I don’t have all the answers (3:13)- This was an hypothetical question (suppose…). He imagined people asking him questions about God/theology… in response God revealed his name and that Moses’s role will be of a messenger (3:14).
  • Will they really listen or believe? Fearful or ridicule or embarrassment, Moses wondered if he will win their respect (4:1). But this was also an imaginary scenario of what if… such and such/so and so…. See Lord’s response in 4: 2-4, 6-7.
  • I’m not gifted in speech (4:10)- See Lord’s response- 4:11-12. If you’re here and this is your excuse, then count on God’s power.
  • I’m not qualified as others (4:13)- He was simply saying ‘God send/use someone else.’ I’m from the villages of Midian; I’m busy; there are many others who are qualified; nani (Swahili for so and so) has grown up children; nani has a degree/or is a consultant in that area; nani did that program before; I have never gone to a bible college etc Here, God accommodated Moses’ desire (4:.14-17) but Aaron later became a snare to Moses(Ex 32:4; Num. 12:1-2). Moses didn’t need Aaron but God himself.

Gideon also felt inadequate like Moses. He was fearful and certain that he did not have any influence over his family, clan, tribe (Judg. 6:15). So how could he lead the entire nation? But just like to Moses (Ex. 3:12), God promised him his presence (Jdg. 6:16).

As Paul puts it, God chooses the “weak of this world” to accomplish great things for his glory (1 Cor. 1:26-29). He raises the inadequate so that they can depend on him. He chooses the humble so that he can, in his own ways, raise them up in a way that confounds many.

Today, we have wronged concluded that a leader has to be persuasive, have good looks/voice, dynamic, well-polished accent, TV type, and with high social media following.

Leaders who feel inadequate (who feel they need God or else they fail) end up being the best leaders ever.

AW Tozer wrote, “A true and safe leader is likely one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and by the press of the external situation.”

They are willing to lead after God. Such leaders lead with spiritual understanding of themselves, people, work, and God.

V. When God Raises Leaders He Also Raises Helpers-

In Moses’ case, God raised Aaron and Miriam. He raised people who can complement Moses in his gifting, abilities, and personality.

In the life of Paul, God raised ministry associates like Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus etc.

But be cautious suggesting other people to God because a calling is an individual matter. Moses pushed God to a compromise, and as a result he was given Aaron who later became a thorn in the flesh.

From time to time God brings along our way people to support the God-given vision entrusted to us.

We may not all be leaders at the frontlines, but we need to support those the Lord has anointed at a particular time.

Concluding Thoughts

God still raises spiritual leader even today! But sometimes, sadly, we trash God’s choice and enthrone our own!

Raising of spiritual leaders in every generation is a sign of God’s faithfulness to his people.

May we rely on God and seek his guidance as we suggest and elect leaders to lead God’s church in our generation.

Spiritual leadership is God-appointed, not self-assumed.

Have you ever felt that God was calling you to do something beyond you? I.e. be a BS/SS leader, to church council/board? Consider the life of Moses and be encouraged to assume the task.

Related Leader as Shepherd 

Also read: Leader as Servant 

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THE POWER OF THE TONGUE

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In any conversation, engagement, and communication, use of words is inevitable. We use words to express our ideas, emotions and feelings. We use words to cause an action or reactions. We tell a story using words. Words have meaning, influence, and impact. More importantly, we communicate the gospel message using words.

Depending on how we use them, words can build up or tear down; incite, encourage or discourage. The tongue is small but has a great power. Therefore, it is important to learn from God’s word how we can handle the power of the tongue.

Text: James 3:1-12

Warning and the Danger of Words (v.1-2):

  • James warns that not many should presume to be teachers. Why teachers? It is because teachers use words as tools just as a carpenter uses a hammer…
  • But is this a danger exclusive to teachers? In verse 2, the danger is to ALL; “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” All of us in one way or another use words, and so the danger is real.

The Power of the Tongue (v. 4-12). The Tongue has:

I. Power to Direct (v.3-4)– James gives us two examples of a bit and rudder.

  • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, it makes it possible to turn the whole animal.
  • A ship, although large and driven by strong winds, is steered by a rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
  • The bit and rudder are small, but they provide direction to the horse and ship respectively. They offer direction and control.
  • With seasoned words we can direct people’s lives in the right path.
  • II. Power to Destroy (v.5-8) – Two examples are given here- fire and animal (v. 5-8).
  • The tongue is like the small spark that sets a great forest on fire- It should not be underestimated; just like a small crack in a ship.

Words have capacity to destroy families, fellowships, communities, and bring splits and divisions. A small slander can cause a big harm to a fellowship.

The tongue is a fire. You know that fire is good when it is under control; it can warm people, give light, and cook food. But when it is out of control it can create massive destruction. It can burn, consume and destroy what we value.

Like a drug, it is something good that within it has the capacity to be poisonous. It can corrupt the whole person, and set the whole course of his life on fire…

Our words can start fires and destroy what took ages to build; and can also quench fires.

So how can you control/put into check this fire?

  • Like all kind of animals and birds, the tongue needs to be tamed. And it is good to know that it can be tamed. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

III. Power to Bring Life or Death (v.9-12)

The tongue has power to pronounce curses or blessings. Out of the same mouth can come blessing or curse. The tongue is powerful, right!

A positive or negative word said to a person may have a life-long impact.

Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21).

The Challenge Today: In churches, fellowship groups, families, communities, and nations many people have not learned to control their tongues. They do not even understand the impact/power of their words.

So how can we control our tongues and channel the power of the tongue rightly?I. Determine Who is in Control

  • Who is at the steering wheel of your life? Is Jesus enthroned in your heart? If he is not enthroned in your heart, then he is not enthroned in your speech.
  • Since it is difficult to perfectly tame the tongue, we need help from God.
  • When Jesus Christ is the Master of the heart, then He is the Lord of the lips too.
  • Always guard your heart (Prov. 4:23); knowing that Satan can also use our tongues.
  • David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let me not be drawn to what is evil…” (Ps. 141:3-4a).
  • II. Choose How to Use your Tongue
  • Will you use your tongue to bless or curse? The choice is yours.
  • We can choose to use our tongues to: slander, swear falsely, gossip, curse, blaspheme, boast, destroy, tear down, discourage.
  • But at the same time, we can choose to use our tongues to: praise God, exalt Jesus, encourage, build up.
  • Guard what enters into your heart- “garbage in garbage out” principle is also biblical. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).
  • In the final analysis, you cannot be both a fresh and salty spring. You only can become one. You cannot be a fig tree and bear olives; or be a grapevine and produce figs. We recognize spring by its water and tree by its fruit.
  • A double-tongued person is a poisoned tongue (praising God at one time and hurling unprintables to the brother/sister. Choose to bless with your tongue.

III. Resolve to Control Your Tongue

  • It is possible that you make a resolve to speak what is truthful-in love and in a way that builds up.
  • Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).
  • Resolve to reason before you talk. Learn to control what you say.
  • Revolving to speak words of life. Fill your heart and mind with the word of God.
  • (Realize that I’m not saying you zip up your mouth or speak less).
  1. Develop Your Fellowship with God
  • When we have fellowship with God we will definitely talk what is true.
  • Continually Learn to practice what we preach, say, sing.
  • As you submit and surrender to God, He will fill your mouth with eternal words.
  • Spiritual maturity requires tamed tongue.

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