Have you ever started something new (new job, new marriage, moving into a new house, etc.)? At first, there’s the excitement of having that idea which inspires you, followed by the process of making it a reality. Invariably, once the real work has begun and the rush of enthusiasm which always accompanies new beginnings has passed, you are faced with a crisis of commitment. In other words, something happens that leads you to ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Is it really worth the trouble?”
That is exactly the kind situation which faced Moses after God called him to return and lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Though initially unsure of himself, Moses would learn to stand firm on the course God had set in motion. God knew what Moses had to do. He had to get Moses to do it, train others to do what he did, and then get them into the Promised Land and turn them loose. But first, God had to mold Moses’ character through the following four steps:
- A change in Moses’ perception of himself.
- A change in Pharaoh’s perception of God and Moses
- A change in the Egyptian People’s perception of God and Moses
- A change in the Israelites’ perception of Moses.
God had to take Moses through a crash course in leadership training. You and I, in our own ways, must go through this same process if we are to become leaders where we’ve been planted. As you read this lesson, which comes from my course Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses, ask yourself this question: “When did I go through a process like this, and how did it change me?”
- A Change in Moses’ Perception of Himself
Sometimes, movies help us see things we otherwise might have missed. In the animated movie, The Prince of Egypt, Moses sees the writings of the Egyptians about how they killed all baby boys under the age of two back at the time Moses had been born. It is at this point that Moses realizes everything he thought he knew about himself was a lie. As a result, he runs away and spends 40 years in the wilderness, herding sheep.
When God comes to Moses at the burning bush and commands him to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of bondage, Moses says no – he just doesn’t believe he has what it takes to do that. You see, God had left Moses in the wilderness for 40 years, stripping away his pride and arrogance that went with being a Prince of Egypt so that Moses would be willing to rely only on God for success.
Has anything like this ever happened to you – have you had a job, or some position of authority, that led you to develop an arrogant, “I’m better than other people,” sort of attitude? But then, you lost your job, or some other crisis happened that caused your perception of yourself to change from someone who knew everything to someone who was unsure about everything in life? That’s what happened to Moses. When Moses’ view of himself changed, God gave Moses a second chance. He had Moses work with his brother Aaron to go to Pharaoh to bring their people out of Egypt.
- A Change in Pharaoh’s Perception of God and Moses
When Moses and Aaron first approached Pharaoh, the Egyptian Monarch didn’t give an inch. In Exodus 5:2, Pharaoh said: “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Not only that, he punished the Israelites, who in turn complained to Moses and Aaron, blaming them for making their lives worse.
Moses was crushed, and cried out to God about getting him into this mess! Even though Moses wanted to quit, he didn’t. God sent him and his brother Aaron back to announce a series of ten plagues. The first couple of times, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the miracles Aaron performed without much difficulty. However, during the second plague of frogs, Pharaoh asked Aaron and Moses to “pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.” For the first time, Pharaoh acknowledged that the God of Israel really did exist. Starting with that event, Moses, not Aaron, began to perform the miracles of God.
When someone starts a new project, onlookers usually have one of two general comments which hinge on whether or not the person in question gives up and quits, or preservers. If the person quits, they might say something like: “Knew it. Always knew that guy wouldn’t finish what he started.” If the person keeps going and then succeeds, what did people say? Maybe something like: “The guy surprised me; I never knew he had it in him!” How we respond to adversity affects the way others perceive us.
- A Change in the Egyptian People’s perception of God and Moses
Starting with the third plague of gnats, Pharaoh’s magicians were unable to match the miracles of God. Each plague affected the Egyptian people worse than the last. At first, they had believed completely in the power of Pharaoh, but with each new plague, they came to fear Moses and his God. Then, in the seventh plague of hail, Moses warned the Egyptian farmers to bring their livestock home from the fields and shelter their animals before God sent the hail. In Exodus 9:20-21, we read that those who listened to Moses saved their animals. The animals of those who did not listen died. And so, Moses, the one who told God at the burning bush that he was “slow of speech” and couldn’t convince anyone, began to change the minds of the Egyptian people. They, in turn, would cry out to Pharaoh, who would then listen to them, and let the Israelites go.
There’s an important principle here. If you are debating someone on a point of principle, you probably won’t get THEM to change their minds. However, if you can get their supporters to give your point of view a fair hearing, you can begin to change their minds. They, in turn, will begin to change the mind of your opponent. This is especially true in the political realm.
- A Change in the Egyptian People’s perception of God and Moses
At the beginning when Pharaoh had increased the burden of the Israelites after Moses first came to him, they were ready to have Moses lynched. But, once the Egyptians started to beg Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go, they realized that Moses was the man they should follow. In Exodus 12:35, we read that the Hebrews requested from their former masters gold, silver and clothing. Amazingly, because “the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians,” the Egyptians gave them what they asked for.
Notice it was the people, not Moses, who had found favor with the Egyptians. God had built Moses up into a servant leader, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the people. They realized that Moses had their best interests at heart – he wasn’t there to make a name for himself, or to get rich off of them.
In your sphere of influence, do people recognize that you have their best interests at heart – or do they see that everything you do is designed only to build yourself up at their expense? In the end, this will determine if people will not only follow you, but will want to participate in what you do and replicate what you are doing, to the benefit of others.
A careful study of the life of Moses reveals that God led Moses into in increasingly difficult situations. At every step, Moses could have quit and said it was just too hard. But, by persevering, Moses gained confidence in God and believed in the purpose God had called him to fulfill.
Think of the people who have been a leader or mentor in your life. Did it look like being a leader came easy for them? I’ll bet that if you spent time asking them, they’d tell you they went through a series of tough times. The difference between the people who have been leaders in your life vs. the people who have told you that you’d never succeed is that the leaders learned how to persevere through the tough times. Those who have told you you’d never amount to anything probably gave up on their own dreams long ago.
If this post has been helpful to you, don’t stop here. To take my course, Think Like Jesus, Lead Like Moses for free, simply CLICK HERE.