Let me inject some spiritual perspective into this series about leadership lessons that I have learned. 🙂 A number of years ago as I was working on my doctoral dissertation, I was exploring the last few words of the Torah (or Pentateuch) and its final description of the great leader Moses.
I noticed that the passage itself was actually the epithet of Moses – the final assessment of his life and leadership. I also noticed that the text had a very clear structure that revealed the divine evaluation for those who read it in Hebrew, but not in English. Translated and restructured (and skipping over the important elements of Hebrew grammar and literary techniques in the text), the text of Deuteronomy 34:10-12 looks like this:There has not arisen again, a prophet in Israel like Moses: Whom the Lord knew face to face in all the signs and wonders, Whom the Lord sent to do in the land of Egypt (to Pharaoh and all his servants and his land) in all the mighty power, and in all the great terror, Who accomplished it (Moses) in the sight of all Israel. Do you see the three-part structure? If we had more time and space, we could explore it in more detail, but let me highlight the core elements. According to this text, Moses was an unequalled leader because of three characteristics that defined his life: he was known by God, he was sent by God, and he accomplished what he was sent to do. Simple, but profound.
First, Moses’ leadership was defined and shaped by something (actually someone) bigger than himself. Moses knew that it was not all about him. His outward expression of leadership was simply the logical extension of his inward relationship with God.
Second, Moses had a mission, a purpose. Moses was a driven leader. His drivenness, though, was not just a Type A personality quirk, but rather, it too came out of something bigger than himself. Moses believed that his calling, his purpose, was something bestowed on him and he couldn’t fight it (although he tried to at first!). Moses felt called to make a radical difference in the world around him.
Third, Moses accomplished his mission. Moses’ leadership was not defined by intentions, goals, plans, or ideas alone. Moses was a man of action. He followed through. He was relentless. He was not perfect, but he was not a quitter even when the burden of leadership became almost unbearable.
What can we learn from a leader like Moses?
If you are (or want to be) an emerging leader:
- Is your core identity larger than just your abilities, or are your life and leadership all about you? Do you think you are the most important person in the room or organization? Where does God factor into your leadership? Does God serve you or do you serve God?
- Do you lead with a clear sense of purpose and calling? Do you know how to figure out your calling? Do you want to change the world?
- Are you a leader who is relentlessly focussed on accomplishing your mission or are you easily distracted? Are you a leader with good intentions, or a leader of action? Do you follow through?
Whew … that is a lot to think about, isn’t it? I hope that you read the story of Moses as described in the Bible, and reflect on his life and leadership. It has affected how I lead, and perhaps it might influence you as well.