A leadership lesson from Moses

Jealousy in LeadershipMoses asked God for help in leading the people of Israel.  70 men were assigned to provide that help, as told in Numbers 11:24-30. The newly recruited helpers were to appear before the tent of meeting and receive a portion of the spirit that was upon Moses. The sign that they received this spirit was that they started to prophesy.

There were two men who did not appear before the tent of meeting who also began to prophecy. Joshua, Moses’ right hand man, wanted Moses to stop them from prophesying. Moses’ response is instructive:

“But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”” (Numbers 11:29, ESV)

A good leader is willing to be eclipsed by the people he leads. The leader focuses on the goal and not on who is getting credit for the achievement of the goal. The organization wins if the goal is achieved and the leader helps those he leads contribute toward the goal at their maximum potential.

Churches do not always have this type of leader. I have been in church situations (plural, not just one church) where the pastor guarded his power to make decisions and control the activities of the church. I cannot know with certainty the motivation of the pastor for behaving in this way, but it seems that jealousy plays a role and this behavior is certainly contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This type of control is destructive and thwarts what God is doing within that congregation.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, the Apostle Paul uses the analogy of a body to describe the church. The church is given members with the various gifts that are needed for the church to function as a unified whole. If the pastor is squelching the exercise of anyone’s gift, he is thwarting the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Healthy believers who find themselves in such a church, because they understand their gifting, will move to another congregation where they are allowed to use their gifts. This will leave the church with the controlling pastor as weak and under developed.

The analogy that comes to mind is when parents do not allow their children to make age appropriate decisions. The controlling parent represses the development of the child and without change in the parent’s behavior, the child will find it difficult to progress into a healthy adult.

May the spirit of Moses, where he encouraged and expected others to exercise their gifts, fall on the leadership of all of our churches. If so, the Holy Spirit will be freed to accomplish His will for that church and the surrounding community.