“Don’t try to do it all. Do more good. Better.” This book is a great resource by Tim Challies. Check it out here.
On January 15, 2009, Sully Sullenberger took US Airways Flight 1549 departing from NY to Charlotte. The plane struck a large flock of birds, which took out both engines and forced him to land with 155 passengers in the Hudson River. What was most remarkable to me was the emotional control exercised by the pilot and air traffic controller.
At this critical leadership moment, Skill and Emotional Maturity were both exercised.
- Skill: Have I practiced and exercised discipline so when the
moment arrives, I posses the skill to do what it takes to lead?
Leadership is not something you are born with. It comes with
- Emotional Maturity: What’s happening outside, and what’s happening
inside? What is outside of my control (externally) & what’s happening within my control (Internally: mind, emotions, spirit). Just keep checking: outside, inside, outside, inside.
With Skill and Emotional Maturity in mind, let’s revisit the life of Moses. Its 1500 BC and its been about 400 years since Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man. Those years clouded the memory of the Egyptians. Joseph’s ancestors, the Israelites, become slaves trapped in Egypt.
Moses’ 1st 40 Years (Read Exodus 1:8-14)
The Israelite population became a concern for Pharaoh so he ordered all the male babies to be thrown into the Nile River. Moses was placed in a basket and found by the daughter of Pharaoh. She decided to adopt him, so for 40 years Moses grew up in the royalty and power of Egypt (Acts 7:22).
Moses sat at the feet of Pharaoh, the leader of a powerful nation. Moses was being groomed for leadership, developing skills on how to lead a nation. Lock that piece of information in your mind.
Turning Point (Read Exodus 2:11-15)
Moses had the right idea. He had compassion for his people and wanted social justice. This is the beginning of a Vision. A vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances and a picture of what could and should be done. This is important for younger leaders trying to discern God’s will.
Question: What do you see that stirs up dissatisfaction? What gives you a picture of what could and should be done to make it better?
That’s the good part about Moses’ leadership, but we also see some pretty significant problems. Moses lacks Emotional Maturity, Spiritual Maturity, and Wisdom.
This is critical because from a worldly perspective Moses was primed and ready for worldly leadership. He was able to take matters in his own hands! He had received the best education, he was in great physical shape, and he had the most powerful mentor. Yet, he was not emotionally ready for what God has in mind.
You can have a Doctorate in Leadership, be in great physical shape, and have excellent mentors yet still be emotionally immature. That one liability will greatly limit your effectiveness as a Leader.
High IQ – Low EQ. If you are old enough, you have seen this!
Moses had an anger problem. He knew what he was doing was wrong (considering he buried him in the sand). Yet, he can’t exercise emotional self control in this critical moment.
Example: Titus 2:6 – “Encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Guys, just conquer this one thing and everything else will fall into place. Angry responses often add to problems. When dealing with a problem don’t create another problem by your response.
Moses isn’t spiritually ready to be used by God. We see that Moses has a good desire; a desire for justice and freedom. But he has a disastrous method. God actually wants to use Moses to accomplish this rescue mission, just not with Moses’ method. Moses’ method was to take matters into his own hands. There is no space between Moses’ Assessment and Moses’ Action.
Think about it: Moses was facing a 400 year old problem. He would be fighting against a powerful Egyptian military. This is a God Sized problem, but Moses foolishly decides he alone is the solution. Here is the best he could accomplish – He killed one soldier and rescued
zero slaves. That was a bad plan.
Paraphrasing Exodus 2:14 – “Who died and made you King?” Since Moses had done something to protect the slaves he thought they would eagerly respond to his leadership. Moses made a terrible miscalculation. Moses completely underestimated how difficult it would be for people in a 400 year old pattern to change. You can easily think of times where you completely miscalculated how difficult it would be to change a family, a business, a church, or even yourself!
Moses’ 2nd 40 Years: Moses Moves Into the Desert
From the world’s point of view, Moses looked like a finished product. He had the right degree, the best training and he was in top physical form, but he is no shaped to be used by God. It took Moses 40 years to grow into the vision God had designed for him.
40 years later, Moses has learned humility (Exodus 3:10-12). Notice that Moses says he is unfit to go, but God reminds him that this rescue mission is not about Moses, but about the LORD.
Please notice the contrast of how much man can accomplish by himself vs. a man under God’s leadership (Exodus 14:10-14 & Exodus 14: 26-29). One man on his own kills one man and rescues zero. One man led by God defeats the most powerful army on the planet and rescues an entire nation.
Leading to: Moses’ 3rd 40 Years
During his first 40 years, Moses developed the skill to lead a nation. During his second 40 years, Moses developed the knowledge of living in the desert. During the third 40 years, Moses lead a nation through a desert.
God can redeem all your time for his purposes.
1. In order to raise your leadership capacity: What area needs to most work? IQ – Wisdom/Skill (or) EQ – Emotional health?
2. Vision: Vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances & a picture of what could and should be done, a preferred future. Do you operate with a Vision? How do you determine when you should move forward, without taking matters into your own hands?
3. Do you have a set time and place where you meet with God?
Friends and Brothers,
Pompeii was a popular tourist city on the west coast of Italy in 79AD. It was during the time of the Roman Empire, and it was home to 20,000 people. It was also located near the base of a massive volcano, Mount Vesuvius. When Vesuvius exploded, scientist estimated it ejected 1.5 million tons of ash and rock every second for 24 hours over 12 miles into the atmosphere. The surrounding region including Pompeii was covered with ash 16ft deep. The ash remarkably preserved the city before it was covered in lava. Lava was estimated to have flowed down the mountain at 70mph. Many of the residents escaped prior to the eruption but some were left behind. There is a story about a Roman soldier whose body was uncovered. He was found standing his post at the city gate.
Abraham was a Man on Assignment
In Genesis 12:1-4, the key to Abraham’s success is summed up in one sentance: “Abram went, as the Lord had told him”. Abraham, like the Roman Soldier, was given an assignment. To go to a foreign country and stand his post until the very end of his life. Yes, God was going to work through Abraham, but those things are up to God. Abraham wasn’t perfect, but what Abraham did well was stand his post.
Jesus said in John 17:1 – “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Jesus too was on assignment. Jesus didn’t do everything that could possibly be done. Instead, he completed his assignment. Jesus stood his post until the very end.
Do you sense that you are on assignment? What difference does it make if you do or do not think that you are on assignment?
What was Abraham’s Assignment?
Genesis 12:2 tells us that Abraham was to go live in a land and give birth to a new nation. A nation who, like Abraham, will singularly follow after Yahweh.
I want you to appreciate the immensity of Abraham’s challenge and the immensity of Abraham’s world influence.
Genesis 12:6-7 . Abraham builds an alter to Yahweh where the Oak of Moreh is, the land of the Canaanites. Moreh means “teacher”. Most scholars think this particular location was a place of idol worship. Right away, we see Abraham establishing his camp in enemy territory. This assignment will encounter great opposition.
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. (Joshua 24:1)
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River (Ur – Abraham’s home town) and in Egypt (the land they had escaped), and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell (current location). But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Notice the surrounding culture of counterfeit gods: Babylon, Egypt, the Amorites, and the Canaanites. Imagine the pressure – One man and his family standing their post against the current and surrounding culture of multiple gods. Yet, Abraham plants himself and preaches exclusivity. One God, Yahweh! In our current culture, exclusivity is one of the most offensive things you can believe.
God’s Timing and Your Assignment
In Joshua 24:1 – Joshua has the people gathered back to Shechem, where Abraham first stood his post. This is the beginning of God fulfilling his promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12.
This is 700 years later! From 2100BC to 1400BC. Ask yourself, if God commanded you today to stand your post and promised he was going to deliver you a great name and nation, would it be ok with you if he fulfilled it in the year 2716? Would you be ok with that?
 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.  By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.  Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.  These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:8-13)
Do you see? It wasn’t Abraham’s job to make a great nation or get a great name. No. Those were things God would do. Abraham’s job was to live by faith – to be obedient – to stand his post even though it looked foolish and unsuccessful to the surrounding culture. He even had to endure suffering.
Leadership writer Patrick Lencioni says this:
“If you were searching for leaders to change the world, what qualities would you look for? Courage and intelligence would certainly be prime candidates. Charisma might make the list. Yet, I would rank two others ahead of them, the two qualities I’m thinking of are: Humility and Pain Tolerance
When I graduated from college, I wanted to change the world. I was determined to make a difference, defy conventional wisdom, confront the status quo… At the time, I was sure that these lofty aspirations were noble. I was wrong. There were two big problems with my zeal.
First, I had no specific idea about what kind of a difference I wanted to make. And although that may not seem like a big deal, it masked a larger one: I was more interested in being recognized for having changed the world than anything else. ‘It doesn’t really matter what I changed, as long as it was something unique, and I got credit for it.’ You see, making a difference was not really about the world after all. It was about me.
There was another problem with my desire to change the world, and it
is just as important. … there were limits to my desire to change the
world. As much as I wanted to make a difference, I wasn’t too keen on
having to suffer much along the way. ‘Sure, I can deal with some hard
work. Maybe even temporary financial setbacks. But real suffering?
Embarrassment? Rejection by loved ones? No thank you. I don’t want to
make that big of a difference.’ Before setting out on a quest to change
the world, Christian leaders should probably ask themselves two questions: “Who am I really serving?” and “Am I ready to suffer?“
Patrick learned that his leadership was really all about himself. He was the goal and the terminating point. He also learned that he wasn’t really ready to suffer. He wasn’t ready to stand at his post no matter what.
Abraham was a man on assignment. He planted himself in the middle of enemy territory and counterfeit gods and was going to remain obedient even if he didn’t receive in his lifetime what God had promised. Abraham knew who he was serving and was willing to suffer.
- Do you sense that you are on assignment? As a leader, what difference does it make knowing you are on assignment?
- What are your greatest pressures as a Christian leader?
- Talk about you and the two leadership characteristics Patrick Lencioni valued: Humility and Pain Tolerance.
Friends and Brothers,
Pastor, Christ Community Church
“Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in.” Read the revealing full article about men and technology.
“Sin promises rapturous pleasures. Illicit experiences are often preceded by lies.” Read the blog by Thomas Schreiner on Credo Magazine.
The necessity for strategy when pursuing self control. Read the insightful blog from Justin Taylor on The Gospel Coalition.
” Not every look turns into adultery, but all adultery begins with the look.” Read the full blog here.
Ever wonder how it can be done? Read this great resource by Matt Perman to find out.
Paul tells Timothy to: “Train (not try) yourself to be godly. Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I Timothy 4
I hope you have a plan over the summer. If you don’t, I suggest you call a friend or two and commit to a training routine for the next 12 weeks. Here are a couple of helpful resources:
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes
- What are Spiritual Disciplines? What Priority Should They Have in a Christian’s Life? by Donald S. Whitney: An article/video on spiritual disciplines.
- Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley: This is the book I re-read every year to set my goals for the coming year.
- 9 Things a Leader Must Do by Henry Cloud: A small book about leadership.
- Knowing God by J.I. Packer: A classic, must-read.
- Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle: small book but very helpful for young men especially
- Habits of Grace by David Mathis: Notice you can download the book for free!
Pastor, Christ Community Church