Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leadership Principles from the life of Moses

I’ve been working on a paper on the life of Moses and what leadership principles we can gain from his life.  Here’s my rough copy.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

This paper on the life of Moses will reveal how God worked in him to develop him into an effective leader. Moses was born when the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh was afraid that the Israelite population was growing too large and so he ordered all the male children to be killed. Moses’ mother places him in a basket and leaves him in the reeds along the river banks. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and adopts him. Therefore, Moses’ gets raised in Pharaoh’s house.

As Moses grows up, he becomes distressed over the treatment of his people by the Egyptians. One day Moses sees an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew men and he becomes so angry that kills the Egyptian. Moses flees Egypt to the desert and lives there for forty years.

The first principle of leadership is that God places a desire in a person’s heart to lead. Moses felt an emotional attachment to the Hebrew man even though he had been raised in Pharaoh’s palace. Moses’ desire to help the Israelites was placed in his heart by God.

Moses spends his next forty years in the wilderness. He had lots of time to think, reflect on his life, and pray. God hears the cries of his people in slavery in Egypt. He chooses Moses to be the one who will go to Egypt and deliver his people from Pharaoh. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses was ready to hear him. Oftentimes leaders today are too busy to take time alone with God. Without the quietness, you can’t hear God speak.

Moses has also learned humility and honesty during his time in the desert. God tells Moses to approach Pharaoh and ask for the release of his people. He also tells Moses that Pharaoh is not going to let them go on his first request. He tells Moses that if Pharaoh doesn’t let them go then He will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His wonders. God tells Moses that after He stretches out His hand against Pharaoh, then Pharaoh will let them go. (Exodus 3) After receiving all his instructions from God, Moses still has a few questions. He asks God what to do if they won’t listen to him. God then has Moses pick up a serpent by the tail and it turns into a rod. Good leaders ask questions and then act on the answers. It took a great deal of faith for Moses to pick up a serpent by the tail. God gives Moses a few other signs he can use to show Pharaoh that Moses is speaking for God.

The next thing Moses does is question God’s calling on his life. He gives the excuse that he doesn’t speak well. God responds with the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are, I am with you. Moses really struggled with feeling inferior. He compared himself to others, including his brother, Aaron. Moses’ questioning angers God. God tells Moses that Aaron can go with him and be the spokesman to the people. There are two leadership principles to look at in this section. The first is when God calls you to a task; he will equip you for that task. The other is if a leader has a known weakness, then find someone who can help in that area. A leader should be surrounded by people who complement his weaknesses and who share the same vision.

Moses is eighty years old when he and his eighty-three year old brother, Aaron, go into Egypt on a rescue mission. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. As God predicted, Pharaoh says no. God then begins what is known as the 10 plagues that strike Egypt. The first five plagues are actually done with the rod by Aaron. God tells Moses what to tell Aaron to do. Aaron does it and Moses watches. The sixth plague Moses and Aaron work together on. The last four plagues Moses completes while Aaron watches. God uses Aaron during this time to help build Moses’ self-confidence. From now on, Moses takes the lead in everything. Leadership principle seen here is leaders sometimes have to be grown and groomed for leadership. When developing a leader, be patient but have a plan for growth.

The tenth plague finally breaks Pharaoh and he agrees to let the Israelites go. The Bible says they have been in bondage for 430 years. The Israelites start to leave but Pharaoh changes his mind and the Egyptian army is chasing them and they get stuck in front of the Red Sea. They have nowhere to go. Moses steps up, believes God, and parts the Red Sea. The Israelites cross on dry ground and then Moses stretches his hand out over the Red Sea and the waters come back and drown the army. In Exodus 14:13, Moses speaks with calmness in the midst of the crisis. “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” Good leaders take charge in a crisis and are a calming presence.

Exodus chapter 15 is about the celebration that followed their successful escape. Good leaders celebrate the victories with their people. Good leaders also recognize God’s hand of protection. God decides to take the Israelites on a journey that will take them a long time to complete. God is testing their patience and their faithfulness. The Israelites are barely gone from Egypt when they start to complain. They complain about food and God supplies manna for them. Then they complain about water and Moses strikes the rock. Again, God provides for their needs as water flows from the rock. Good leaders don’t let whiners and complainers frustrate them. Also, good leaders trust God to provide for them.

During their time in the wilderness, God wanted to see if His people would keep His laws and commandments. So God calls Moses to come to the top of Mount Sinai and meet with Him. No one else is permitted to come. God tells Moses what the Ten Commandments are going to be. Moses delivers that news to the people and then goes back up on the mountain for forty days and nights. During this time, God writes the commandments on stone tablets. He also gives Moses some specific directions for building the tabernacle. During this time, the people grow impatient and start complaining again. Then they build the golden calf. God’s becomes furious and wants to wipe them out. Moses pleads to God on their behalf. Moses comes down the mountain and sees the golden calf and now he becomes furious. Moses breaks the stone tablets. Then he destroys the golden calf. Moses speaks to the people and tells them to choose a side to stand on. God kills everyone who doesn’t choose to stand on his side. Moses goes back up the mountain and gets replacement tablets. While Moses is up on the mountain this time, God passes by him and allows Moses to see His back. The leadership principles here include God desires intimacy from his people but especially those who lead. Leaders must take some time to separate themselves from the crowd. Leaders are watched and analyzed by the public. Leaders must stand for what is right even if everyone else is on the other side.

The saddest part of the story of Moses is that he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. The Bible says that the reason Moses could not enter the promised land was because he struck the rock when God to him to speak to the rock to bring forth water. Striking the rock was disobedience to a specific command by God. The leadership principle here is when God gives you a specific command, do exactly what you are told. Disobedience causes people to miss out on blessings.



Bradley, M. (2008). Lessons from the story of Moses. Bible-Knowledge.com, retrieved from http://www.bible-knowledge.com/lessons-from-the-story-of-moses/

Maxwell, J. & Elmore, T. (Eds.). (2007). The maxwell leadership bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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