“Leadership Lessons from the Wilderness”
Leadership is dancing with chaos, listening for and obeying God’s voice, and guiding people toward God’s order and purpose for their lives. We need people today who can be comfortable navigating ambiguity, battling opposition with love, and keeping their hearts fired up for Him. Moses was such a leader.
Moses was a man just like us—same desires, passions, and limitations—yet God mightily used him as a leader. What can we learn from Moses that translates into our lives that could impact how we might think, dream, pray, and work in new ways?
Someone has said that “leaders are born, not made.” I would say that “great leaders are born again and made by the Holy Spirit.” Moses stands out in my mind as one of the greatest leaders of all time.
I am looking at the wilderness time in Moses’ life as a metaphor of how God uses defeat, failure, and loneliness in our lives. I might term it as the “wilderness of the heart.”
If you read through Exodus 1-4, you quickly realize a few important things about Moses. He is ambitious, clever, ruthless, and fearful (chapter 2). Moses is, well to put it bluntly, full of Moses. But as you continue reading into chapters 3 and 4, you see the humbling of Moses and his growing desire for God.
Moses was a prince of Egypt in the most powerful kingdom in the world, who suddenly became a sheep herder in the middle of nowhere. From hero to zero in one day! Moses lost all position of earthly power for God to awaken his heart to the purpose of heavenly power. Moses first had to encounter the wilderness and defeat before he encountered God and his calling.
Lesson 1: God uses the wilderness to break us.
God wants our heart. God wants to remold our character. He is less interested in our abilities and talents than He is in our humble obedience to His voice and calling. God is looking for leaders who are not full of their own abilities, power, and gifting; but rather are full of God’s Spirit, God’s anointing, and God’s power. He often uses wilderness to teach us abundance.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply. God actually rises up storms of conflict in relationships at times in order to accomplish that deeper work in our character. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is graduate-level grace. Are you willing to enter this school? Are you willing to take the test? If you pass, you can expect to be elevated to a new level in the Kingdom. For He brings us through these tests as preparation for greater use in the Kingdom. You must pass the test first.”
Lesson 2: God uses the wilderness to humble us.
God often must demote before He can promote.
James writes, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (4:10). God creates circumstances of failure, disappointment, and struggle so that we will humble ourselves before Him. He then lifts us up in His timing.
James continues, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (1:2-4)
Lesson 3: God uses the wilderness to create new passion for Him.
Moses could not have gotten to the “Mountain of God” unless he was seeking God. It is in the wilderness that we learn to pray, fast, study His Word, and believe God in a new way.
Moses is changed by the wilderness because he is seeking God! We learn our most valuable lessons in the wilderness. Jesus went to the wilderness before launching His public ministry. It was in a time of fresh seeking and spiritual warfare with the devil that Jesus prepared His heart for the battles ahead.
Don’t despise the wilderness you are going through. Don’t despise God’s tool of reshaping your heart. The wilderness is a gift from God. Press in.