The Burden of Leadership

"Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms...I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me." Numbers 11:10-14 (emphasis mine)

If you've been in leadership for very long, this passage probably feels quite familiar to you. 

Leadership looks like great fun - til you're the one trying to lead an obstinate people where they don't particularly want to go. 

This passage of Scripture, where Moses pours out his frustration to the Lord, is preceded by the people grumbling because they haven't eaten meat in quite a while. They've grown tired of the manna God sends each day and now the people are complaining that they had it better in Egypt, where they were enslaved, where their male children were being murdered, where they were abused and mistreated. But, "we remember the fruits we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic." (Numbers 11:5)

You ever feel like you're trying to lead your people - your staff, your congregation, your clients - to the Promised Land, and all they are doing is complaining about how much better they had it in Egypt? 

Lucky you! Welcome to the pleasures and pain (simultaneously!) of leadership!

It's not easy to forget the pleasure of sin, though we quickly forget the pain.

Ever wonder why recovering addicts can go for months, years, even decades, and then one day, give it all up to fall back into old sins and addictions? It's very common, and heartbreaking.

We too quickly forget the pain and remember only the pleasure. We forget what we lost because of our addiction or poor choices. We forget that our family ostracized us. We forget we were unable to work. We forget the heavy burden of feeding our addiction. We forget.

We forget the hard struggle to overcome. We forget the pain of detox. We forget how much work the Holy Spirit had to invest in straightening out our thought processes and behaviors. We forget.

And because we forget, we fail to adequately protect ourselves from temptation and the slippery slope of sin.

But God...

Fortunately, God heard not only the frustration of the people, but He also heard Moses, in his distress. God sent leaders to rise up and help Moses care for the people. 

Are you doing too much on your own? Do you need some co-laborers? Do you feel like Moses, as if you're carrying your people in your arms like they're infants?

What can you do?

First, admit to God that you are trying to carry too much and that you need help.

Next, wait for Him to show you who is ready to rise up to help you. 

Pray together with this group of people and wait for the Lord to confirm His work and His calling in them. 

And then, begin diverting some of your responsibilities to them. You'll want to start slowly. You don't want to overwhelm them. Give them time to grow in wisdom and authority. Each one will be different and will need different assignments and different types of support and encouragement. 

Trust the Lord to show you how to lead the leaders, and equip them to lead your people. 

It's how He designed this process to work. Trust Him to rise up the same help for you, too!

Let me know what you think! I love to read (and respond to) your emails.

[email protected]

Suzanne is Founder and Director of a maternity home in Tennessee. She also offers coaching and training to churches and ministries, encouraging others to understand poverty, trauma, and addiction so that you can "Do Good - Well". Check out her most recent ebook, The Accidental Social Worker, as your free gift. 


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