Moses on Management

In recent years, our culture has developed an increasing awareness of the desire for self-help, personal development and personal mentoring. Self-help books are a multimillion-dollar industry. Everyone seems to be looking for a path to change and examples for how to live their lives. For most Christians, it is no secret that the Bible is full of shining examples of how to live fruitful, fulfilling lives in the face of all kinds of adversities. For leaders, Moses presents an incredible example of management and leadership.

Leaders not only need the skills to complete the job but the ability to morph and live out the qualities they push those that follow behind them to embody. In “Moses on Management” David Barron wrote, “If the Children of Israel were to accomplish this mind-bending shift (leaving slavery in Egypt in pursuit of the land God promised) they would need the inspiration of a leader who could actually live by those rules not just sermonize them.” Meaning, the leader would need to personify the characteristics of greatness over simply presenting their ideas.

Moses’ unique set of individual qualities and his relationship with God propelled him to the forefront of all leaders throughout history. Barron breaks these qualities down using three major time periods in Moses’ life.

Part 1: “Delivering the Message,” details the qualities that Moses exemplified during the time God prepared him to lead His people. This section opens with a discussion entitled, “Allow Others to Recognize Your Strengths and Recognize the Strengths in Others.” Moses recognizes his weakness as a leader and while he was tempted to hide behind them, he allowed God to strategically use Aaron.  Other noteworthy sections of part one are, “Realizing that Faith Must Be Renewed,” which discusses how to overcome dry moments we all experience as leaders and “Give Appropriate Reproof –and Learn to Take It,” which discusses listening with the understanding that we may need to make changes.

Part 2: “Leading in the Wilderness” details the qualities that Moses exemplified while leading the people of Israel to and through the desert. It discusses leadership essentials like: leading with a team, allowing others to share your burdens and preparing an exit strategy.

Lastly Part 3: “Living by the Code” discusses the basic tenants of leadership. “Stand Up for Your People,” “Stand Behind Your Decisions,” “Balance Zero Tolerance with One Hundred Percent Compassion,” and “Treat People Fairly” are a few of the topics discussed in this section.

Moses’ life is a shining example of leadership successes and failures. His relationship with God exemplifies the constant battle between our desire to do God’s will and the issues that can sometimes impede us from doing that successfully. His relationship with the Israelites gives incredible understanding to the complexities of management. “Moses on Management” is an essential read for everyone in management and those who find themselves in leadership capacities.

The Practices of Jesus’ Leadership

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.”

Matthew 20:26

In our article last month, we considered four essential personal qualities for the leader who would lead like Jesus: humility, courage, integrity and justice. This month, we look more deeply at each quality to discover the practices that form–and extend– servant leadership.

Humble Worship: Lordship in heart

The leader who bears much fruit must abide in God’s presence. As Jesus told his disciples, “A branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine. I am the vine. You are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Worship is the joyful expression of thanksgiving that one’s strength is not in oneself, but in the Lord.  This leader is ever mindful of Jesus’ invitation to abide daily—to dwell, rest and bask—in God’s love. The leader rejoices to say with John the Baptist, “He must become greater. I must become less.” How is your heart in worship? Are you finding strength in God’s presence?

Courageous Truth Telling: Lordship in action

A leader’s trust is as good as his or her word. Courageous leaders can be trusted because they are ready to admit failure and sin when they are wrong, and graciously, but directly speaking the truth in love when another is wrong. Time and again throughout the Gospels, we find social outcasts, prostitutes and tax-collectors flocking to Jesus’ side! People who know their inadequacy know two remarkable truths about Jesus. First, they know that Jesus does not approve of their behavior or affirm this sin.  But second, they know Jesus loves them unconditionally. Most of us lean toward one end of this spectrum rather than the other.  Some of us may be truthful, but not very loving.  Others of us may be loving, but not very truthful. Jesus models a servant leadership that is “full of grace and truth.” What do you need to ask God for and begin practicing in your ministry?

Communal Integrity: Lordship in community

Once, I thought being truthful was the most important characteristic for earning trust. Then I discovered that never lying does not, by itself, engender trust. Without love, your vision, ideas and teaching, however truthful, will become what Paul calls a “resounding gong or clanging cymbal.” Truth can only be heard when people are confident that you have their best interests in mind, that your truthfulness streams from a heart of genuine love. The servant leader must not lie, but your speech must be guided by three factors: Is it truthful? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Do those you serve and work alongside have the confidence that you are saying and doing only what is best for them, and not for yourself, or your reputation?

Righteous Outreach: Lordship in society

As we discovered last month, justice embodies the mission and ministry of Jesus. Righteousness is not about being right, but about being in right relationship with God and others. Jesus demonstrates this by constantly being found practicing hospitality with the stranger, the weak and disenfranchised. Jesus accepted hospitality from others, such as dining with tax-collectors and Pharisees. Jesus extended hospitality by feeding the thousands in crowds as well as making breakfast for his disciples. The early Christians were known for their fellowship and “table service” where believer and stranger might experience grace and work out justice. It is easy to get so caught up in doing good things for the needy and poor that we fail to share ourselves. When was the last time you shared a meal with a stranger simply for the love of the stranger?

Summary

There are many practices of servant leadership, many more than can be mentioned in a short article like this.  However, open any page of the Gospels and you are likely to find Jesus giving glory to His Father, speaking the truth in love to followers, serving the good, and healing others or sharing a meal with strangers. Servant leadership is marked by these core practices because these practices make Jesus visible.

–Jim Van Yperen