Sometimes our greatest threat is not from what others do to us but what we do to ourselves. When I first began serving as a solo pastor, I was eager to quiet comments about my age and fitness by leading in whatever way I could. If people expected me to serve for forty hours a week, I’d serve fifty. If they wanted me to stop by the ladies’ lunch, I’d arrive early and be the last to leave. If someone presented a question at Bible study for which I had no answer, I’d stay up late scouring for one. It didn’t take long for a case of burnout to reveal that much of what I thought was proof of my dedication and leadership was actually a case of pride and fear—fear of letting people down, of not being who I thought others expected me to be, of not being enough. In short, I was afraid to acknowledge the limitation of being human.
Moses, on the other hand, is quick to admit his fears and limitations and reveals the making of a true leader. Faithful leadership isn’t about having all the answers, being the loudest in the room, or not making mistakes. Faithful leaders look to God for guidance and slow down long enough to recognize the ways that God provides direction, support, and strength. Letting go of the illusion of control can be hard; but the more we do it, the more we begin to see that God’s grace and mercy—not our efforts—have been sustaining and will sustain us.
May we, like Moses, come to see that surrender is not a sign of weakness but the path that leads to freedom.
God, help me to see my limitations not as a sign of weakness but as an opportunity to place my strength and trust in your loving faithfulness throughout the ages. Amen.
For the second time this year, we read the story of the Israelites complaining in the desert about water, only to see God provide a miraculous spring. The psalmist reminds the people of the many powerful deeds performed by the Lord, including leading them through the sea out of Egypt and providing them water from the rock. Paul emphasizes to the Philippians the need for humility and unity. In quoting the earliest known Christian hymn, Paul encourages them with the example of Christ, who gives up all his rights for the sake of others. In back-to-back encounters with religious leaders, Jesus evades an attempt to trap him in his words and then teaches that true obedience is shown not by our speech but by our actions.
Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you tried to “do it all”? How can admitting your limitations help you lead?
Read Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16. Recall times when you have known God’s presence. How might remembering and retelling these stories shape your faith?
Read Philippians 2:1-13. How does your life speak of God’s love for you and for all humanity?
Read Matthew 21:23-32. How have you created your idea of Jesus in your own image? What would change if you found your identity in Jesus rather than creating Jesus’ identity from your own?
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