Friday, August 3, 2012

Leader On The Edge

A few weeks ago in a post titled “No Microwave Leadership” I referenced Galatians 6:9 as the memory verse.  It says...

“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good.  At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.” (The Message) 

This verse is encouraging in many of life’s circumstances and can be applied if you’re feeling frustrated as a leader.

This week while reading through the book of Numbers, I came across a great example of a burnt out, frustrated leader.  Moses has a lot of great moments and we can learn so much by studying his leadership skills, but in this particular incident his performance wouldn’t win the gold medal if the Olympics had a leadership category.

Moses has lead the Israelites through the wilderness for two years.   During that time there are many occasions when the Israelites haven’t followed God’s instructions and Moses has had to intervene on their behalf.

The beginning of Numbers 11 reads like other passages throughout Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.  The Israelites are complaining about their nomadic way of life and whining about their food supplies.  Essentially they’re complaining about God’s provision.

If you’ve read any of the books of Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers you’ll recognize the pattern.  The Israelites complain, God becomes angry, Moses intervenes on behalf of the Israelites, and God relents and forgives them.

Being familiar with this pattern I expected Moses to fall on his face before God and pray on behalf of the Israelites, but apparently our long suffering leader is fed up.  Instead of praying for mercy for the congregation Moses comes to God and vents his frustrations.

If I could put Moses’ conversation into my own words here’s how it would go...

“God, what did I ever do to you?  Why am I stuck with this bunch of whiners?!?  They’re not my problem.   I didn’t want to be their leader.  You know what...that’s it... I’m done!  Just kill me, right here, right now!”

The interesting part about this is God doesn’t get angry with Moses for his outburst.  Instead He offers a solution.  He tells Moses to select a group of men who have leadership abilities to share in the burden of leading the people of Israel.  God anoints these people with His spirit to assist Moses.

You’d think this would placate Moses, but he’s just getting warmed up.  His rant continues when God tells Moses He plans to provide quail for the whining Israelites.  Apparently Moses has the gift of sarcasm because his next conversation with God is swimming in it.

 “Meat!  MEAT!  Here in the middle of nowhere you’re going to give us meat!  Yeah right, take a look around God, where do you think it’s going to come from?”  (Read the chapter for yourself at .

It seems Moses has forgotten to whom he’s speaking and God reminds Moses of his mighty power and provision.

Moses’ little melt down sounds to me like that of a burnt out, over-worked leader who’s tried to micro-manage by taking on all the responsibilities himself, instead of delegating tasks to his leadership team.

Here are a few leadership lessons we can learn from Numbers 11:

1.       It’s OK to vent our frustrations to God.  He’s got big shoulders and He’ll listen to your rant.
2.       If you’re in a leadership role you need to identify key people on your team who have leadership gifts.  Identify their strength zones and help them develop these skills.
3.       Let go of the need to control!  Don’t micro-manage!  When you have your team of key people, delegate tasks that allow people to use their unique skills.  (Don’t keep taking back the tasks once you’ve delegated them.)
4.       When you’re burnt out, fed up, and ready to quit, don’t lose sight of how powerful God is.  Ask for His help in your work and He’ll provide for you.

Have you experienced burn out as a leader?  Do you any leadership tips?  Share your thoughts by clicking on “comments” below.

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