Leadership Spotlight - Moses

A Series on Biblical Leaders Moses is one of the most effective leaders in the Bible. Moses exemplifies greatness in a leader who looks out for the group as a whole by making wise decisions. The Israelites were a rebellious group of people that were in need of leadership that was not content with the status quo. Moses was an unlikely leader who was willing to delegate in order to be successful in leading the Israelites out of slavery and towards the Promised Land. Moses desire for justice led him to become the strong leader that began the exodus of the Israelites out of slavery and to the Promised Land. It is true that God uses unlikely people to complete his divine plan.

The Administrative leader is traditional in the approach of leading large and small groups of people and tasks. Moses was faced with the daunting task of leading a multitude of people into the desert without a clear plan. Moses used victories such as the defeat of Pharaoh’s army as a way to remind, recount and expand his credibility as a leader. Moses was wise in helping people understand that each small step they took towards God’s plan, the closer they came to fulfilling God’s overall vision. Moses realized that he could not do it all on his own, but allowed others to take leadership. For example, Moses realized his speaking ability was not his best trait, so he delegated the speaking to his brother, Aaron.[1] The mission was more important to complete rather than Moses always being the “lone-wolf” leader.[2] Moses realized his ego was not the most important aspect of leadership, but the success of fulfilling God’s vision for the Israelite people.

Moses’ ability to identify his own weaknesses and work to minimize their impact was his leadership strength. The law of rewards and accountability was in place during Moses lifetime through helping the Israelites see the miracles of God as motivation to continue to be faithful. Moses was focused upon the vision and at times struggled with insensitivity towards others. Moses realized the need for delegation through channels of leadership when the Israelites were on dire need.[3] Moses realized that leadership is not a one-man-show but it is empowering others to invest their lives into the vision. Moses was able to elect judges and create a system of organized help to suffice for the many problems the Israelites faced during the exodus. Moses grew in his understanding of leadership by influencing others to become bearers of the vision. The management principle was put in place to help other leaders take up the responsibility of handling the multitude’s problems.

Moses’ leadership ability to lead people was displayed through conflict resolution. The Israelites excelled at trying to be in opposing sides on decisions, but Moses was able to bridge the gap and find a resolution. Moses could have taken the conflict personally, but he understood that it must be dealt with principles. The inevitability of conflict is inescapable in leadership. Preparation for the inevitability of conflict is how Moses was able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the desert with success. Through the plagues that he faced in Egypt build up his credibility to many followers. Not only did Moses find success in Egypt, but he celebrated the victory by building monuments that drew attention to God’s deliverance. Moses’ ability to find the root cause of the conflict led to better harmony in the Israelites.

The reality of conflict comes in any leadership role, but an administrative leader must look ahead and have plans in place to handle internal and external conflict. The conflict that arose during Moses’ lifetime usually was surrounded by the physical needs of the people. Moses’ vision was to lead them to safety and his plan was built upon faith in God to deliver them successfully. The people complained each time their needs were not met in the time and fashion that they desired. Moses was slow to respond and helped set up a plan to resolve the conflict. The three ways to resolve conflict are confrontation, collaboration, and “joint problem-solving.” Confrontation deals with the purpose of the conflict is to be victorious at all costs. The key is to win or lose and to be hard on the person and the issue. Collaboration is defined by being soft on the problem and the person when dealing with conflict. The weakness to this approach is that one side wins and one loses and it is decided through compromise. The “joint-problem solving” approach is to separate the person from the problem. The key is to uphold the relationship but also come to an agreement on resolving the conflict. The wisest choice in dealing with conflict is to joint-problem solve in order to achieve a closer relationship.

Moses was a leader who at times was brash and quick to make a decision. Throughout his mission to lead the Israelites to safety, he learned to delegate authority to judges. The profound aspect of Moses’ leadership was his ability to rally leaders around him in order to see them become effective in fulfilling the vision of the Promised Land. God formed Moses into a strong leader through times of conflict and suffering. Moses fled from God’s purpose for his life for 40 years before he was willing to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Through suffering, conflict and pain come leaders who know the sufficiency of God’s strength and lead with His power. His mission was to fulfill God’s plan at any cost through leaving Egypt and safely moving multitudes of people to the Promised Land. Moses’ final act of wisdom was in the forming of Joshua as the next leader for the Israelites. Moses’ led with the future in mind and left a legacy of shared leadership that hinged upon the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Moses was able to lead the Israelites because of his desire and ability to delegate and follow God’s direction. In Exodus 14:31, Moses’ legacy of wise leadership is evident. The church is in need of leadership who knows how to effectively manage people and conflict. Moses exemplified a charismatic but administrative leader who put God’s vision as priority. Moses’ life proves that God can use anyone willing to be obedient and faithful to achieve success in leadership.

[1] “Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.” Exodus 4:14
[2] “To be effective, leaders must know how to communicate their visions effectively and how to enlist the cooperation of others.” – M.Z. Hackman & C.E. Johnson
[3] “So when Moses father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, ‘what is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening.” Exodus 18:14