Devotional on Exodus

2014 – Arches National Park, Utah

Having a Moses Complex
Exodus 18: This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out…you can’t do this alone.
Moses is overwhelmed by his responsibilities yet he presses on. From morning to night he deals with the issues of leadership as this nation of former slaves struggles with issues of personal responsibility. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, visits and sees what’s happening. Moses needs to get organized by surrounding himself with capable assistants. That will be best for him, for the people of God, and even for the leaders he enlists. To do otherwise is to invite disaster because Moses does have a job to do and if he burns himself out trying to do everything he’ll end up doing nothing. Moses accepts the word of wisdom from Jethro and surrounds himself with competent, God-fearing, loyal people. I think we pastors sometimes have a “Moses complex.” It isn’t entirely our fault. The “higher-ups” are very pastor focused and our lay people will cheer us right into the grave as we try to do it all. We’re wise to spend some time listening to old Jethro and begin handing some things off to good people who are likely more gifted in specific areas than we are anyway. That will free them up to do what God gifted them to do and it will also let us focus our energy doing what we’re called to do in the first place.
Take Away: Leadership doesn’t mean doing everything.

Devotional on Numbers

2014 – Anacortes, WA

A book of the Bible that really counts
Numbers 1: Number the congregation
The book of Numbers may be the most accurately named book of the Bible. As Moses organizes these hundreds of thousands of people we read page after page of names and numbers. In fact, the Lord even gives Moses a list of the names of those who are to name the names in accomplishing this huge task. It’s all very practical and reasonable. If nothing else, Numbers reminds us that our service of the Lord isn’t all about worship services and sermons. Often there are practical things to be done: statistics to be compiled, organizational meetings to attend, and plans to be made. Such endeavors don’t “feel” very spiritual but they’re part of forming mere humans into a people of God, organized and ready to serve. Having said all that, I confess that I don’t find much devotional material in the lists of the Book of Numbers. I may fast forward through them and focus on some of the other events of this book of the Bible.
Take Away: Sometimes being a people of God includes taking care of business in addition to focusing on worship and other “spiritual” activities.

Devotional on Numbers

2014 – Mt Rainier National Park

The first thing about spiritual leadership
Numbers 11: Would that all God’s people were prophets. Would that God would put his Spirit on all of them.
There’s more going on in Numbers 11 than just Moses needing to organize with some key leaders. God intends to take some of the Spirit he’s given Moses and divide it up among those chosen to assist him. When seventy leaders are gathered to initiate this new approach something spiritual happens, and, in ways that cause us to think of the unique events on the Day of Pentecost, there are outward signs of this spiritual event. A couple of the chosen leaders miss the meeting and out there in the camp they too publicly prophesy. It’s this public display that concerns some. When word is brought to Moses he’s undisturbed. It’s okay with him for God to place his Spirit on them even though they missed the meeting. In fact, he wishes all God’s people were endowed for service. Here I see that beyond all the articles in “Leadership Magazine” and beyond all the good advice in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, and beyond all the important leadership lessons to be learned is the fact that God gifts people for leadership. Leadership in the Kingdom is first, a spiritual act. Pastors and other church leaders must never forget that. Our authority is based on God putting his Spirit in us.
Take Away: Training is important but beyond that is the truth that God gifts some people for leadership.

Devotional on 1 Chronicles

2018 – Bear Cave Thousand Trails – Buchanan, MI

Security guards
1 Chronicles 26: The teams of security guards were from the family of Korah.
I’ve read this passage several times in various versions of the Bible, but since the sons of Korah were called “gatekeepers” it didn’t catch my attention. Now I see them being described as “security guards.” I guess that’s what gatekeepers are supposed to do: they provide security, seeing to it that all who enter are there for legitimate purposes. King David is such a multifaceted person. He’s a singer and songwriter and harp player, a skilled leader, and he’s a warrior who’s won countless battles. In this case, I see him drawing from his “warrior” skills in organizing the Levites. In spite of the peaceful conditions of the day David prepares for possible trouble. Now, it might be that the sons of Korah are basically ushers who tell people where the corral is for their soon to be sacrificed lamb but I’m guessing that David also wants them there “just in case.” I wonder to what extent, if any, this applies to the Church today. There have been some horror stories in the news, and, obviously, a church full of people is probably viewed as an easy target by some very bad people. I’m not seeing this as some kind of mandate, but there is, at least to some extent, a precedent here for a church to have at least some unofficial security.
Take Away: Leadership involves, in addition to having a vision and sense of direction, the ability to think through the practical concerns of the organization.

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