Over the past few months, we’ve been following our friend, Moses, on his journey toward learning to delegate. As with all lessons in God’s kingdom, Moses new adventure had both a purpose and a plan in God’s grand design for both the life of His leader and the journey of His people. As we turn the page in the Bible and look at Exodus 19, we begin to see exactly why Moses had to leave his daily responsibilities as the people’s arbitrator and pass that role on to others. God had a new job for Moses that was just beginning to unfold.
Let’s take a look:
“Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.
On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’” (Exodus 18:27-19:6)
I find it interesting that before Moses could move into the new role that God had for him as Israel’s leader and representative, he first had to say “goodbye” to something. He had to say “goodbye” to his current responsibilities of micro-managing the people’s daily disputes and he had to say “goodbye” to his own advisor and friend, Jethro.
Maybe this lesson is hitting home just a little extra hard with me this month as we’re studying it, because in my own life, I’m learning that there are times in every leader’s life when God says, “It’s time to change directions. It’s time to say ‘goodbye’ to this area, and move into the new adventure I have for your life.” Sometimes it’s unexpected and you say “goodbye” without really knowing where God is leading. Other times, the new adventure and the new journey are completely mapped out in front of you. Either way, it’s scary and exciting and just a little sad all at the same time. While you’re going through the change it feels like a major life disruption, like something must be desperately wrong to create such upheaval. Still, even though it feels this way, nothing could be further from the truth.
Reality is that change and new adventures are a normal part of God’s kingdom. Growth, change, and moving forward are the norms in His world. It is never His will that His people or His church remain stagnant. Instead, His goal is to constantly be stretching us, pushing us, and trying to get us to grow into the people He wants us to be to do the work that He wants us to do. God wants growth in His people and His kingdom. Change isn’t abnormal to Him---it’s status quo and expected.
Don’t believe me? Then look at what happened directly after Moses said “goodbye” to his old job and his father-in-law, Jethro.
Exodus 19:1-6 shows us that God took Moses to a new place and gave him a new set of responsibilities. The new place was Mount Sinai. If you’re familiar with the book of Exodus, you know that this was a very significant spot. In fact, it was the beginning of an entirely new phase of life for the Israelites.
Here is where Moses would meet with God and receive the Ten Commandments and God’s other Laws for how the people should live. It was at this spot that God would give Moses the plan for erecting the Tabernacle, and the concept of properly worshipping God would begin. It was at this mountain that Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel would literally see the glory of God and begin to understand His holiness.
Literally, everything changed for the Israelite community when they arrived at Mount Sinai. That’s why there had to be so many changes in the life and responsibilities of Moses prior to their arrival at Mount Sinai.
You see, as He always does in the lives of His people, God had a plan mapped out ahead of time for the children of Israel. He wasn’t playing it by ear or winging it as they moved forward. Instead, He had an orchestrated order of events designed to remove His people from Egypt, teach them how to live as His people in the desert, move into their promised land, and ultimately fulfill their destiny of being a kingdom of people that would usher in the Messiah and offer redemption to all mankind. It was a big plan and the move to Mount Sinai was the next step in God’s order of events.
That’s why Moses’ responsibilities had to change from the leader who brought the people out of Egypt to the spiritual leader who taught the people God’s Laws and God’s ways. Moses’ new responsibilities were clearly presented to him twice.
First, Jethro tells Moses, “You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. Teach them His decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.” (Exodus 18:19-20)
Now in Exodus 19:3-6, we see God telling Moses what his new responsibilities are to be: “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Essentially, these were Moses’ new responsibilities:
1. Moses was called to teach the people who they were. They were God’s treasured possessions, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
2. Moses was to teach the people the responsibility that went along with their calling.
3. Moses was called to teach the people about the holiness of God.
Wow! How’s that for a new job description!
I mean, let’s be honest here. This new job was going to be A LOT harder than Moses’ original task of leading the people out of Israel and making sure that their basic needs for protection, food and water were provided. Compared to the tasks that were lying ahead of Moses, the days of confronting an angry Pharoah, crossing a sea, seeing water come from a rock and bread fall from the sky must have seemed like the good old days! Because let’s face it. Although these tasks were difficult, all Moses had to do was obey God and lead the people as God did all the heavy lifting and worked miracles to set His people free. (Not that Moses’ courage and leadership was nothing---but really, God was doing some pretty amazing things!)
However, in the days that were to come, Moses’ job was changing from Hero to Teacher. From Physical Deliverer to Spiritual Guide. His new tasks included changing the hearts and minds of a million people who saw themselves as rabble and slaves, whose minds were ingrained with the customs and culture of godless Egypt, and teaching them how to live as God’s people following God’s Laws because they revered God’s holiness.
Oh, the times, they were a-changing. And Moses, as God’s leader, had to be the first to change so that he could lead the people in the change that God had for their lives.
That’s the lesson that I’m learning from Moses this month: If God has called you to be a leader, whether it be in your family, in your circle of friends, in your business, or in your church, then you need to accept that following God fearlessly through change will be a regular part of your life. You see, just like God had a well-orchestrated plan for the children of Israel, He also has a well-orchestrated plan for your life and the lives of the people that you are leading.
Because He has a plan, He has created a path to achieving that plan. Many times, that path includes change. Change of venues, change of strategies, changing the way we always did things and trying something new to achieve a different result. Sometimes our responsibilities change. Other times one group of people leave our lives only to have another group arrive. God’s plan is organic---it’s always growing, changing, shifting, and expanding. As leaders, we need to be willing to go with His flow and make the changes that He wants to make in our lives and the lives of the people we are leading.
Think about it in natural terms. No parent ever expects that the life they have with a baby will continue when that child becomes a toddler. A good parent expects the child to learn and grow and change. As the child changes, the parent/child dynamic grows and changes. There comes a point when a parent om says “goodbye” to diapers and bottles and embraces school books and soccer balls. It’s natural, it’s normal, and it’s very healthy.
The same things that are true in the life of a parent are true in the life of a leader. Change and growth, even goodbyes, are natural, normal, and healthy. The lesson that we need to learn from Moses this month is how to embrace the change and new responsibility and follow God fearlessly into whatever lies ahead.
You see, one thing that I think we often forget about people in the Bible is that they were human. They had emotions, opinions, and a free will just like us. One thing we have to admire about Moses is that whenever God presented him with a new plan, Moses choose to obey God and go with His new plan. I mean, theoretically, Moses could have said, “No, I don’t want to let go of my old responsibilities. And I definitely don’t want that new job---do you have any idea how difficult it’s going to be to get these rebellious stubborn people to think and act like God’s people? No thanks, let’s pass that one off to someone else.”
But he didn’t. And God’s plan and God’s purpose for the Israelites was able to progress because their leader was obedient and willing to follow God through whatever changes in venue or responsibility came his way. The question now is, “Do you have the same heart as Moses?”
Are you willing to say “goodbye” to the places and responsibilities that you love in order to follow God’s plan for your life and the people you’re leading?
Are you open to releasing control of your pet project or program to move into the new area that God has for your life?
Will you embrace the adventure of following God fearlessly even when the task ahead seems overwhelming or frightening?
Are you willing to follow Your Leader as He leads you into new territories for the sake of His kingdom?
These are questions a good leader needs to be willing to face and answer. What will you choose?