Whether you own your own business, manage a business for someone else, are a parent, or are involved in ministry in your church, you are a leader. One of the earmarks of a great leader is found in his or her desire to constantly improve. Obviously, Christ’s life provides plenty of insight into leadership, but we can also learn a lot from the life of Moses. His life provides plenty of insight into how to be an effective Godly leader.
From the time that Moses was born, he was destined for leadership. While Pharaoh issued a decree for all Israelite children to be murdered, God supernaturally protected Moses because He knew that the baby would one day turn into one of the most prominent leaders of the Christian faith. While we don’t have a ton of information about Moses’ earliest years, we do have a lot of insight into the kind of leader that he was. With that in mind, we can learn a lot about leadership from studying the life of Moses.
Depending on your personal responsibilities, you may serve in any number of leadership rules. Perhaps you own your own business or manage one for someone else. Maybe you are a parent who is trying to lead your children as they navigate their way through life. Perhaps you serve in a ministry position within your church. Regardless of your leadership position, one of the most important aspects of leadership is looking for opportunities to improve.
Moses proved a lot about leadership, all of which is still applicable today. Regardless of the area in which you lead, you can gleam a lot of wisdom from the life of one of God’s first chosen leaders.
Leaders Endure Pain
Exodus 2:4-6 (ESV)
And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Moses’ life began with a painful situation. As we already discussed, Pharaoh had issued a decree that every male child of the Israelites was to be executed. With that in mind, Moses’ mother sought to protect him the only way that she knew how to. After his birth, she put her son in a basket and set him in the river. Can you imagine the pain that she must have felt? While Moses was too young at the time to understand what was going on, we do know that most of his life was marked by the conflict of his upbringing. He knew that he was an Israelite, but Pharaoh’s daughter who found him crying in the river raised him as an Egyptian.
Leadership involves dealing with pain. While many people envy positions of leadership, they usually do so without fully understanding the amount of pain and sacrifice associated with the position. For instance, many people believe that pastors work for half an hour on Sunday mornings to deliver a sermon, and that is their leadership position. They don’t see the painful hours that their church leaders spend, carrying hte burdens of their congregation, counseling, and praying with people.
In the same vein, people want to be leaders in industry, but often fail to understand the amount of personal turmoil involved. Effective managers take on a great deal of responsibility which has been known to create physical and mental issues. Leadership is a painful proposition.
Understanding the pain of leadership is one of the most powerful lessons we can learn from Moses’ life. While we looked at a painful moment surrounding his birth, most of the rest of his existence was marked by pain and turmoil. In order to be a truly effective leader, you must be willing to deal with the pain associated with the position. It won’t always be easy, but great leaders opt to deal with the pain to fulfill their God-given purpose.
The Need for Community
Exodus 2:11-13 (ESV)
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the main in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely, the thing is known.”
As we briefly discussed, Moses’ life was marked by his identity crisis. He had been born a Hebrew. He knew Hebrew customs, he saw the slavery of the Hebrew people, and he was drawn to them. However, he had also been raised as an Egyptian, and the grandson of Pharaoh. In a sense, Moses was a man without a tribe.
In the story we just read, Moses handled a situation completely incorrectly. Murder was certainly not the answer. However, it further proved the point that Moses was looking for a community to belong to. While he initially did what he did to defend his fellow Hebrew, it wound up creating more division between him and the people he wanted to help.
In the same vein, leadership is lonely. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top.” That is most certainly true. It’s important to understand that leaders are humans, and humans have a natural need for connection. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to create that connectivity when you’re trying to lead people.
While we know that Moses eventually wound up with Aaron and others who he trusted, it’s important to understand that good leaders need community. If you’re leading, make sure that you have surrounded yourself with people who can encourage you and correct you when needed.
Leading With Grace
Exodus 32:11 (ESV)
But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of hte land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?”
Finally, Moses teaches us about leading with grace. This conversation between God and Moses took place while the Israelites were worshiping a statue of a golden calf as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments. God’s anger burned so hot against the Israelites that He had decided to kill them. He was going to spare Moses and make Moses the leader of a new group of people until Moses interceded.
As difficult as the people of Israel were to lead, Moses loved them. Moses truly cared about each and every one of the people, even the ones who sought to kill him every time things started to go wrong. Moses understood the importance of leading with grace.
In the same vein, it’s incredibly important that you approach your leadership role from a place of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. The people you lead are not perfect. Unfortunately, you’re not perfect either. The same forgiveness and grace that you need in order to be an effective leader is the forgiveness and grace that the people you’re leading need from you.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I know that You have put me in the position of leadership that I am in. Help me to exhibit some of the same traits as Moses. I know that I need to surround myself with a Godly community, so please show me the people who I need to rely on. Help me to lead others with grace and forgiveness just like you lead me. Finally, help me to accept that pain is a part of the position, but remind me that I can deal with it through You. I ask these things in Christ’s name, Amen.