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
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.
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