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Praise for Moses' Leadership

Updated: Mar 8

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Exodus 5:10-23; Acts 7:30-34

The relationship between Moses and the Hebrew people is a rocky one. He was their liberator (well, God was their liberator, but Moses was sent by God for this purpose), but the process of liberation was a long one, and the people preferred the homeostasis of what they knew to the life of freedom that they didn't know. Along the way, the people would complain a great deal "Why did you bring us to the desert to eat this yucky mana. We're going to starve with nothing to eat. We liked it better in Egypt as slaves where we ate meat every day."

In today's Exodus passage, the complaining is just beginning. just before, Moses has told Pharaoh for the first time to let the people go to the wilderness to worship the Lord. Out of retaliatory cruelty, the people are required to make bricks without straw, they must gather their own materials, their quota is not lessened and they are beaten for not making their quota. They complain to Moses for the first time. "The Lord look upon you and judge! You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."

What does Moses do? This is a study in leadership. 1) Moses does not push back to the people, but turns to the Lord. 2) Moses does not complain to the Lord about the people in this passage--Moses complains for the people to the Lord! This is astounding. I think when things go bad, people sometimes want to cut off relations. When things out of our control go bad, we want to cut off relations with God. Moses does not cut off relations with God; he turns to God and holds God accountable for being God. "O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people."

I think that's a good model for leadership. When the people complain, don't get defensive, remain un-anxious, stay in relationship with the people and with God, and pray for the people instead of complaining about the people. What a great lesson from the daily lectionary today.