Summary: Our view of leadership is that it is aggressive, know-it-all. But in reality it is bearing witness to God’s power, not our own; and leaders are qualified to be leaders by what they do NOT know.
Do you know the story of the woman who liked to sit for an hour or so every evening at her front window? She would just sit, looking at the traffic racing by. After the children had been coached through their homework, after her husband had been reminded about the jobs on his "To do" list; after even the dog had been shoved out the back door to do its duty .. after all of those chores this woman would spend an hour just sitting and watching the traffic. Someone asked her why she did this, "What attraction could there possibly be in watching cars and trucks stream by?" She answered, "It’s just so good to see something move that I don’t have to push!"
I know what she moans. It’s so good to see something move that we don’t have to push! I expect many of you feel the same thing. The world seems to be full of the irresponsible, who don’t get at their tasks without our pushing and shoving. Many of us seem to get caught into the pushing and shoving jobs, and we don’t like it!
One of you told me this week about what it was like to try to manage an irresponsible family member. You told me about his drinking, his money-wasting, his couch-sitting. And then you said, "It is running me ragged trying to get him just to take care of himself.” Many of us get caught into pushing and shoving jobs, and would like to find another style of leadership.
And so it seems like a fantasy world, doesn’t it, when you hear this story of Moses at Mount Sinai. The response he gets from the people is so clear, so immediate, and apparently so complete, “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Everything?! Wow! How did he get that kind of result? “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” How can we become leaders who get results like that?
In this Lenten season we are concentrating on the discipline of listening to ourselves. As we study the life of Moses, we are looking at a person who was forced to listen to himself, at various points. At the burning bush, where God first called him, Moses had to listen to himself and discover that he had a valuable place in God’s plan. Out in the brickyard where the slaves worked, Moses had to listen to himself and feel his own brokenness and just go ahead and do for the people what they needed, whether they liked it or not. Moses has thus far given us some great lessons in listening to ourselves.
Today through Moses we will learn to listen for leadership. Leadership. Ands when, again, we read that the people responded, “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do,” we immediately say, “That can’t happen for me. That’s not the kind of result I can expect to get. I guess I’m just not a leader.”
My guess is that most of us, if we listen to ourselves, very seldom hear the voice of leadership. We very seldom think of ourselves as leadership people. Oh, of course there are some exceptions. In fact there are some very vigorous, effective leaders in this room today. But that’s not what most of us hear when we listen to ourselves. We do not hear the voice of leadership; we hear the footsteps of followers. Most of us in this room today feel as though we do need to lead anything; we just want to be supporters.
But there is more than one kind of leadership. There is more than one leadership style. Watch Moses again, listening to himself and hearing God’s voice.
The first thing that Moses hears to help him become an effective leader is that he is to bear witness to what he has seen and experienced. He can bear witness to God’s redemptive activity. He does not have to do everything himself, he does not have to create everything out of his own imagination. He can begin work as a leader simply by bearing witness to what God is doing.
The Lord says to Moses, “… tell the Israelites, ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession.’”
Good leaders, Christian leaders, do not lead simply out of their own resources, their own strengths; instead they look at the actions and commands of almighty God. They recognize that if anything important is being done, it is because God is doing it. To be an effective leader is simply to be witness to what God is doing rather than always trying to pump up enthusiasm for your own programs and your own ideas.