We can learn much about leadership by studying the lives of Bible characters. Previously in our “Leadership Lessons from the Bible” series we have learned from Jesus, Joseph, Nehemiah, the Apostle Paul and David. Today, we’ll look at leadership lessons from the life of Moses. Like all leaders, Moses had success and at times faced opposition. Here are 7 leadership lessons we can learn from him.
- Leaders are called. I would consider myself a reluctant leader. As an introvert, shy and lacking in confidence, I would never have chosen leadership as my calling, but that’s exactly what God chose for me. In Exodus 3, we read about God’s calling of Moses from the burning bush. He tells Moses that He has seen the affliction of his people in Egypt and heard their cry. He knows their sufferings and has come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3: 7-8). And, God has chosen Moses to lead his people.
- Leaders can resist the call of God. Perhaps you have felt the call of God to be a leader, but you resist that call of God because like me you lacked confidence, were shy and terrified to speak in public. This was the initial reaction of Moses, who told God that they would not believe him or listen to his voice because they would say that the LORD had not appeared to him. Moses also told God that he was not eloquent, and was slow of speech and tongue. God told him that He would be with him and teach him what he should speak. Still, Moses pleaded with God to send someone else, which angered God. (Exodus 4:13-14).
- Leaders supplement their weaknesses with other’s strengths. We all have areas of strengths, and also areas in which we are not as strong. Perhaps you are good at developing vision, but are not effective at communicating the vision, and thus influencing others to follow you. Moses told God that he did not have the good communications skills to be a leader. God knows that Aaron does have good communications skills. He tells Moses to speak to Aaron and put the words in his mouth. God will teach them both what to do, and Aaron will speak for Moses to the people. (Exodus 4:15-16).
- Leaders will face opposition from the outside. Leaders, in whatever field they are in (business, sports, politics, churches, etc.), are going to face opposition from others outside of their organizations, be it for money, success, votes, wins, size of congregation, etc. Moses and Aaron faced opposition from Pharaoh, when they came to him in Exodus 7 and told him to let God’s people out of the land so that they could serve him. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and brought on ten plagues. Eventually, Pharaoh did let them leave, but then he pursued God’s people to the Red Sea, where God did a tremendous miracle. We read that when Israel saw this great miracle, they feared the LORD and believed in Him and in his servant Moses (Exodus 14:31).
- Leaders will face opposition from the inside. Unfortunately, leaders will also face opposition from within their organization. Have you ever felt that your own leader didn’t have your best interests at heart? Perhaps they were jealous of your success and growing influence. Or perhaps one of your own team leaders was undermining you to others on your team. Moses faced opposition from his own team as well. In one instance, we hear of the people grumbling against Moses and Aaron about hunger, feeling that they would be better off back in Egypt than dying of hunger in the wilderness (Exodus 16:2-3). Later, while Moses was spending forty days up on the mountain receiving God’s law, the people below were getting anxious and didn’t know what had become of Moses. The people approached Aaron to make gods for them to follow. Sadly, Aaron did just that, corrupting themselves and turning aside quickly from the way that God had commanded them (Exodus 32:7).
- Leaders need to hold their followers accountable. Unfortunately, there will be times when performance problems need to be addressed. If not addressed, they will not go away, but will continue, and probably get worse. Some leaders just want to be liked by their team members, and as a result, are reluctant to hold them accountable. Not Moses. When he came down from the mountain, we are told that his anger burned hot. He threw the tablets he had received from God and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf, burned it with fire, grinding it into a powder, scattered it on the water and made the people drink it. Then, he addressed Aaron, asking him what the people did to him that he had brought such a great sin upon them.
- Leaders will sometimes not be able to carry their vision through to completion. For a variety of reasons (a move, retirement, moral failure, etc.), leaders will not always get to see their vision come to completion. That was true of Moses. We said above that God had given Moses a vision to deliver his people out of the hand of the Egyptians and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But he did not get to enter the promised land with his people. We hear that the people again opposed Moses, quarreling with him, asking him why he brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness to die (Numbers 20: 3-5). God tells Moses to take his staff and bring forth water out of the rock for the people and their cattle. But Moses, instead of speaking to the rock, strikes it. As a result of his disobedience, God tells Moses and Aaron that because they did not believe in Him, they shall not bring the people into the promised land (Numbers 20: 12).
Moses was one of the great leaders we read about in the Bible. There are many more leadership lessons we could learn from him. I’ve listed only 7 of them. What would you add to my list?