Moses is one of the greatest Old Testament leaders but too little attention is paid to how he got to the point where God could use him to do great things. If one looks at his life from age 40 to 80 there are ten instructive lessons that ought to inform our own lives as we think about leadership.
1. God is always on time but is never in a hurry. Think about this. When Moses was 40 he thought that he was something and God could not use him. When he was eighty he thought he was not much and God was ready to use him. It took forty years to perfect what God needed to do in Moses heart before he took on his God assignment. God is always on time but He is never in a hurry. He wants us to be ready above all things.
2. In God's work the heart always comes before leadership. At forty, Moses' heart was not ready for his God assignment. At eighty it was. What do you suppose God did in Moses heart for the forty years he was a shepherd for his father in law? He had forty years to spend time with his father, to live in his presence and the proof of this is the humility that Moses exhibited at eighty that was absent at forty. It took that time for Moses to have the heart material that God could use.
3. Hardship is inherent in the process. Our growth as leadership material does not come easily. It comes hard. It came in Moses' life by needing to run from his adopted father, give up a life of privilege and take up the humble life of a shepherd - as an alien in a foreign land for forty years. It is the humbling process that strips us of the dross that will keep us from being successful for God. It is not easy but it is necessary.
4. God's callings are holy callings. When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush the first thing He said was that Moses should take off his shoes for he was standing on holy ground. Holy because God was present and Holy because the assignment God was giving was a Holy assignment. All God assignments are Holy assignments wherever He places us. That is why we should take our calling and our vocation seriously, whatever it is.
5. God does not call us to do things we can do without Him. We should never be so cavalier as to think that we can do what God calls us to do on our own. Why would He call us to do anything we can do by ourselves? His assignments require His presence and His power and His wisdom. Moses got this which is why he repeatedly said "I am not qualified for the job." Of course he was not qualified and neither are we. God calls us to do those things that require His divine power and wisdom.
6. God reveals Himself to us as we answer His call. The first thing Moses had to do was to accept the fact that God was calling him and to say "yes" to that call. It was as he took a step of obedience that God continued to reveal himself and give Moses the resources he needed to lead the people out of Egypt. It was a "one step of obedience at a time leadership" which is what ours is as well. God did not show Moses the whole plan but He did prove Himself faithful as Moses chose to say yes.
7. False starts are often not failures. Moses had a massive false start. Was it a failure? I choose to think not. I believe it was simply one of the learning Moments that would prepare Moses for his big assignment. We should not be afraid of false starts in our leadership roles. God may simply be teaching us what we need to learn for the ultimate leadership role He wants us to play. Moses probably thought his false start was a failure. God probably saw it much differently.
8. God infuses what is in our hands for His divine purposes. It is a comical conversation that Moses had with God - especially because it mirrors our own inner conversations with God all too often. Moses says to God, how will the people know that I am from you when I go before Pharaoh? God says, "What is in your hand?" Moses says a staff, the most ordinary of instruments. God says throw it down and it became a snake and Moses ran from it....and the story goes on. God takes the most ordinary stuff that is in our hand or skill set and uses it for His divine purposes. We worry about what we have to carry out God's assignments. He does not. He simply takes what is in our hand and uses it for His purposes.
9. He does not call us to do it alone! Moses did not have all the skills that were necessary to carry out God's call and he knew it. Thus God provided Aaron to join his team and his father in law along the way to give him leadership advice. When God calls us he usually calls us to do things with others who have the skills we do not possess.
10. We never arrive so our hearts need constant attention. Moses learned this in the journey of leading the people out of bondage and ultimately to the promised land. His own heart was tested time and again by those he led and the circumstances he found himself in. But he continued to nurture his heart and cry out to God for his presence and His power. It is all too easy to become complacent and careless, thinking we have arrived. That does not happen until we see Jesus face to face.