3 Vital Leadership Principles in the Wilderness

“Then Moses pleaded with the Lord, “What should I do with these people? … The Lord said to Moses … Moses did just as he was told …”
– Exodus 17:4-6

As the Northeast church campus undergoes a lot of messy construction, our senior pastor, Bob Cherry, has compared it to the Israelite’s journey in Exodus. It’s a good analogy. We’re on our way to the “promised land” of a new, bigger auditorium and state-of-the-art student areas. But when parking and exiting and everything in between is inconvenient and sometimes downright difficult, the people are apt to groan and complain. Not only that, but the long walk from the other end of our campus, through mud and snow, winding around through the construction, is a lot like a walk through the wilderness!

And that’s why Bob asked the staff to read through Exodus now. I’m enjoying reading this book again and applying it to our current realities. But I’m seeing much more than what I was looking for. Exodus is a true-to-life parable of our journey as Christ-followers–and as spiritual leaders.

Moses displayed three great spiritual leadership principles in this passage in chapter 17. The principles are pretty simple, yet so vital to leading effectively.

  1. When faced with a problem, Moses went immediately and directly to God for help. On this occasion, at least, he did not try to figure it out himself or come up with a solution by his own power. Recognizing God as the real leader is the most important attribute of leading successfully. You and I must understand our leadership role as a matter of stewardship.
  2. When God spoke, Moses listened. Moses had become attuned to God’s voice and leadership. He did not argue with God here as he had earlier (e.g. Ex. 3:11; 4:1, 10, 13; 5:22; 6:12). Moses had learned to to trust God. He knew now that apart from God, he could do nothing (John 15:5).
  3. Moses obeyed God, even if it didn’t make a lot of common sense. A leader after God’s heart does not suggest to God a better, more logical way to carry out His plans. He or she does just what God tells the leader to do … with an eager expectation of seeing God do His work in a way only He can do.

Father, I want to be a leader after your own heart, just as Moses modeled here–just as Jesus modeled throughout his earthly ministry. Help me to go directly to you before doing or saying anything. Not my will, but yours be done! Help me to hear your voice clearly today, Lord. Help me to distinguish your voice from all the competing voices out there. I want to listen to you and follow you each step of the Way. Give me strength to obey you, Lord, even if it may not make sense from my own small point of view. As I obey you, I eagerly expect you to do what only you can do.

Author: Michael Mack

Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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