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Leadership 101: Handling A Transition In Responsibility

            And we’re back!  

 

            After taking a hiatus last month to recommend the book, “A Tale of Three Kings”, we’re ready to get back into our study of Moses, one of the all-time great examples when it comes to the category of godly leaders.   

 

            When we last studied Moses, back in May, he was going through a transitional time in his life.   Even though he was still Israel’s leader, his roles were changing.    No longer would he carry the day-to-day responsibilities of solving every individual problem in the Israelite community.   Taking the advice of an older mentor, he appointed judges to do that.    Having made that change, Moses was now free to carry out his new responsibilities as a leader:  Teaching the people how to live in relationship with God. 

 

            However, before the people of Israel could even start developing a relationship with God, start building the Tabernacle, or begin the new system of worship, there were a few basic facts they needed to understand.   Because he was the leader, it was Moses’ job to teach them.    We see God laying these responsibilities out for Moses in Exodus 19.  

 

1.         Moses needed to teach the people WHO THEY WERE.

 

            “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 19:3-6) 

 

            Notice the words used here to describe God’s view of His people:

 

            “treasured possession”

 

            “kingdom of priests”

 

            “holy nation” 

 

            Notice how similar these words are to the way the church is described in 1 Peter 2:9-10:

 

             “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

 

            In both the Old and New Testament, God views His people in the same way.  

 

----He sees them as separate from the other people of the world, a remnant set apart for Himself.  

 

---He points out that He initiated the relationship.  In the Old Testament, He was the One Who miraculously brought them out of Egypt, made them a nation, and drew them to Himself.   In the New Testament, He called us out of darkness and into His light. By extending us mercy, He made us a people.  It was all His idea, His choosing, and Him Who made our calling possible. 

 

---In both cases, it is clear that because God has called us to Himself, we are no longer our own---we belong to Him.   This is made clear by the new titles He gives His people. 

 

---“Treasured Possession” and “God’s Special Possession” means that God’s people would be God’s valuable property and distinct treasure set aside for a marked purpose. 

 

---“Kingdom of Priests” and “Royal Priesthood” signifies that all of God’s people were to play a corporate role in worship, intercession, and ministry. 

 

---“Holy Nation” shows that God has “set apart” the church for His use.  

 

---“Chosen People” stresses God’s loving initiative in bringing the church to Himself.     

 

            All of these new identities carry with them the responsibilities.  This was the 2nd fact that Moses needed to teach the people:

 

2.         Moses needed to teach the people about THE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT WENT WITH THEIR CALLING. 

 

            Take a second look at Exodus 19:5, “Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant,”

 

            Now take a look at 1 Peter 2 and see that once again, a direct shift is made from telling the people who they are to teaching them their responsibilities to live godly lives even in a corrupt, pagan society.   (For the sake of space, we won’t insert the passages, but check it out for yourself and see that the rest of 1 Peter explains how we should live based on our new identity in Christ.)

 

            So what does this have to do with leadership? 

 

            Everything. 

 

            You see, Moses had to teach the Israelites what it meant to be God’s people and the responsibilities that went with their new identity.

 

            The leaders in the early church had to teach new covenant believers the same principles.

 

            Now, over 2000 years later, it is still the responsibility of every leader to teach their followers the same things:  what it means to be the people of God, and the responsibilities that go along with that identity.   

 

            What responsibilities do the people of God have?

 

            God’s people are responsible to follow God’s commands and principles as they are taught in the Bible.  

 

            You may be thinking, “Sure, I get it, pastors and Bible teachers need to teach these things to people, but that’s not me.   I’m a Dad leading my family, a community leader, or a leader at my place of employment.   What does this have to do with me?” 

 

            Again, everything. 

 

            You see, as we’re reminded in this passage, it isn’t just professional ministers that are chosen, called, and set apart by God, but it’s all of God’s people---including you.   If you happen to find yourself being both a leader and one of God’s people, then it’s your job to be leading, teaching, and motivating the people following you in this direction.  

 

            Let’s make this a little more practical:

 

            If you’re a man leading your children, than it is your responsibility to teach them what it really means to be a follower of Christ.  This includes teaching them that they are called to live in the world, but not according to the ways of the world.  They need to understand that as Christians, blending in is not an option.  That’s not who we are---we’re called to be separate and live our lives differently.  

 

            As all parents will know, teaching your children this lesson will be a constant challenge as day by day you’ll be presented with situations where you need to lead your children in choosing to live according to God’s principles and standards, rather than simply go with the flow and follow the anti-God culture in our world.    As if that weren’t challenging enough, as a godly parent/leader, it’s your task to impart a sense of passion to your children that helps them understand that we don’t live differently because we “have to” but because we “want to” out of gratitude to our Heavenly Father Who loved us, chose us, and called us His own.    What a challenge to live this leadership lesson in your own life!

 

            Of course, I know there are men out there saying, “Well, that’s all well and good but I don’t lead in a “Christian” environment.  I’m a leader in my community or at my job, and there’s no way I can go in there preaching about being a “royal priesthood” or a “chosen people” while I push my moral agenda on them. 

 

            That’s true---to a point.  

 

            Yes, it is easier to lead people to their true identity and their true responsibilities within a Christian environment.   However, being a leader in a secular environment doesn’t negate your responsibility to lead people toward these truths.  

 

            Matthew 5:13-16 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 

            You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

            So, how can you, a man of God, lead people in a godly way within a secular environment? 

 

            First, you can lead by example. 

 

            Own your identity in Christ as set apart, chosen, loved, and called to live your life to bring glory to God.    Also, own your own personal responsibility to follow the laws of God’s kingdom and incorporate them into your place of leadership.   Essentially, live your own life above reproach and lead in that manner. 

 

            For example, be a leader who is committed to honesty and integrity, and let it be known that you expect the same from those who are following you.

 

            Treat people with dignity and respect, knowing that all people are created in the image of God with souls that will last forever.   Don’t humiliate people or abuse them.  Treat people the way God treats you: as a valuable treasure with something to contribute toward the greater good.  Gain the reputation of being the leader that everyone wants to work for because you love as Jesus did and treat people well.             

            Live a pure lifestyle.   Let it include all areas of your life from the way you talk, to the way you dress, the activities you involve yourself in, or the conversations in which you do or do not participate.  Whether you’re married or single, let it be known that in your own personal relationships, you are committed to following Biblical standards.    Lead by example, and let it be known that this style of dignified, un-offensive conduct is expected from those under your leadership. 

 

            Be a kind, fair, and courteous leader.  Avoid gossip, backbiting, slander, and using people for your own personal gain.   As a leader, reward those who do the same in their relationships with others, seeing the value in the sense of fair play, loyalty, and integrity.

 

            The truth is that you can lead by God’s principles in a secular environment.   The key is that you don’t preach about living right, but you model right living.  

 

            Lead your people in doing the right things, and expect them to live up to a high standard of conduct.

 

            If someone asks you why you’re so committed to integrity, tell them, “It’s because I have a personal relationship with Jesus, and I’ve seen that following His principles and doing the right things lead to success in life.”   Who knows?  Maybe this will give you the opportunity to lead someone toward finding their identity as a follower of Christ.   Still, even if no one ever asks, simply making the choice to lead your group in choosing to do the right things in life will be following Moses' example to lead people in obeying God’s commands.

 

            You see, it doesn’t matter if you find yourself leading in a secular or Christian environment, inside or outside of the home, or even if you have a large or small number of followers. This leadership lesson still applies to you because you are a Christian in leadership.  As a Christian, you are called to be a different kind of leader, with different goals.   No matter what your environment, your true calling is the advancement of the Kingdom of God.   This is true because YOU are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 

 

            This means that you, just like Moses and the leaders of the early church, are called to help people understand their true identity in Christ and the responsibility that goes with that identity.   There’s also one more lesson you’re called to communicate to your followers: 

 

3.         God is Holy.  

 

            We’re going to talk more about that lesson next month, but for now, I want to challenge you to follow Moses’ example in Exodus 19 and determine in your heart that:

 

1.         You are going to own your true identity and live by the responsibilities that come with it.

 

2.         Begin determining your identity and responsibilities should affect your style of leadership. 

 

3.         Based on this new knowledge, start teaching and leading your people to reach their full potential and fulfill their own responsibilities to follow God’s principles just as Moses did in Exodus 19:7-8:

 

            So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak.  The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

 

           With that presentation to the people, Moses' new role as a leader began. 

 

           Now it’s your turn to make a decision.

 

           Are you ready to follow his example and start your own new leadership adventure?

  

           Are you ready to be the leader you were called and chosen to be?    

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