Welcome to Leadership 101! So you’ve decided to accept the challenge to become a godly leader? Welcome to the most adventurous, exciting, exhilarating, exhausting, inspiring, frustrating, infuriating, baffling, and rewarding roller-coaster of your life! Are you motivated yet?
What? You don’t like my description? Yeah, me neither. But I have to be honest. Because even though it is an honor and a privilege to answer God’s call to lead people, there are also times when leadership is really, really hard. We can’t go into it thinking its all gum drops and candy canes. The truth is that many times being in leadership is comparable to attempting to get a screaming toddler to eat their veggies. It’s frustrating, noisy, and just plain messy.
In fact, dealing with messes is right at the top of the job description for leaders. Here are some more descriptions of what it means to be a leader:
A leader is one who carries the responsibility.
The one who says, “The buck stops here.”
The one who works the hardest, dreams the highest, and carries the responsibility for the final decision.
A leader is the one who is called to stand and give an account before God.
It’s a leader’s job to count the cost---financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
A leader is called to be an example.
It is a leader’s responsibility to hear all sides and opinions, pray, hear the Holy Spirit, and then lead others in the direction the Holy Spirit is leading
The truth is that being a leader isn’t a game---it’s serious business and it’s hard work. That’s why every leader needs to get one thing straight right from the start of their leadership journey. It’s the first thing that Moses had to learn, and it’s the first thing that we must learn if we are going to be capable leaders:
To Be a Good Leader, You Must Know Who You Are Following.
A few months ago, when the Holy Spirit began leading me to study the life of Moses to learn about leadership, I started in the book of Exodus. Growing up in the church, I was pretty familiar with the story of Pharaoh’s daughter discovering baby Moses in a basket, adopting him, and raising him as her own son in Egypt’s palace. Many times I’d read about Moses growing up and trying, based on his own natural skills, training, and abilities, to make himself a leader to the Israelites.
Like many of us who have tried to put ourselves in positions of leadership before it was God’s time or place, Moses’ efforts failed BIG TIME. Instead of becoming a hero to his people, they responded with rebellion and said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14)
Moses’ next move was out of the palace and into the desert where he got a chance to be a leader---just not of people. No, good old Moses, the prince of the palace, now spent his days leading sheep. Exodus 2:23 tells us Moses’ new job lasted for ‘a long period of time’---40 years to be exact.
However, it was during this 40 year period that Moses was learning many life lessons that he would need when he stepped into his destiny as leader. This included the biggest lesson of all---that it wasn’t really about Moses at all.
It wasn’t about Moses’ impressive resume, his amazing training, or his connections in the Egyptian government. Let’s get real---after 40 years---none of this amounted to diddily squat. From his position as a lowly shepherd (one of the most despised occupations in all of Egypt---Genesis 46:34) there was no way Moses could do anything to help his people. The hot shot prince of Egypt was gone---replaced by a humiliated sheep herder.
That’s when God stepped into the situation and said, “Now let Me show you what I can do.”
You see, even though Moses’ plan to help his people had failed, God’s plan was just beginning. Exodus 3:23-25 says, “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”
God heard, God remembered, God was concerned.
Do you see how the story shifts from centering on Moses to centering on God and His plan to deliver the Israelites? Think about it---Moses is out in the desert chasing sheep. He’s got no power at all. Then God calls Him and says, “Come work for Me, I’m about to deliver My people.”
Do you see the shift?
It’s not “your” people or “our” people, from this point forward, they are God’s people. God is delivering them. God is calling the shots. God is in charge and Moses is nothing more than God’s humble servant being used to carry out God’s plan.
From the burning bush, God said, “I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7-10)
Okay, at first Moses didn’t get it. Look how he reminds God, “Uhhh—I’m not exactly qualified for this job anymore. Have you seen my resume lately?”
“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11)
God’s answer---This isn’t about you---it’s about Me. “And God said, ‘I will be with you.’” (Exodus 3:12)
Moses still isn’t sure. “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.’
God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, the name you shall call Me from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:13-15)
Then God laid out His entire plan to Moses in Exodus 3:16-22. As you read it on your own, look over some of the phrases that God uses to describe the work He is about to do.
---God appeared to Moses and said, “Tell the Israelites….”
---God watched over and has seen what has been done in Egypt.
---God promised to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey.
---Notice that it clearly states that the king of Egypt wasn’t going to listen to Moses until ‘God stretched out His hand and compelled the king to bend and release the people.”
---God says that He will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when they leave they will not go empty-handed.
As we look closely at this Scripture we see that from the very beginning God made it clear to Moses Who was in charge of the show. This was God’s plan, God’s deliverance, and they were God’s people. Moses was simply a messenger and a servant.
No matter what platform, what privilege, what title, or what responsibility a position of leadership may bring, in the core of our being we need to firmly remember that it isn’t all about us---it’s about God. Whatever we do, we do it for the honor and glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. It isn’t about displaying our talents, our abilities, our knowledge, or our strengths, because like Moses, in ourselves we really are nothing. Being a godly leader means that we seek God, learn His plan, follow God’s plan, and rely on God’s strength to fulfill our role in God’s plan.
Ultimately, the first requirement necessary to being a godly leader is becoming a God-follower. You can’t follow God and promote your own agenda at the same time. It wasn’t possible for Moses and it isn’t possible for us.
Beyond just being a God-follower, if we truly want to become godly leaders, we need to become God-lovers. Our hearts need to be so completely passionate about loving God and advancing His kingdom that following His will becomes our very heartbeat---that His causes and the cry of His heart become our causes and our heart’s cry. It’s then that we won’t be tempted to lead out of selfish ambition, promoting ourselves, but instead, we will be willing to suffer any injustice, any offense, and any inconvenience for the sake of His cause.
Let’s face it---the road to leadership is paved with injustices, offenses, inconveniences, burdens, and heartaches. When you study the rest of Moses life, these words described what he experienced over and over again.
The people loved him; the people hated him.
He was the conquering hero; He was the buffoon who led them all into the wilderness to die.
How did Moses keep his perspective and continue being a godly leader through the highs and lows of the Israelite’s roller-coaster of emotions?
He knew Who He was following.
He was a whole-hearted God-follower and God-lover.
He knew it wasn’t about Moses---It was about God.
God’s will, God’s purpose, God’s plan was all that mattered to Moses.
That’s what made him a godly leader. It’s the first lesson we need to learn if we are going to be godly leaders. It isn’t about me---it’s about God. That is Leadership 101!