Henri Nouwen said, “The great illusion of leadership is to think that men can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Moses HAD been there; he was in the crucible of the wilderness 40 years and had learned to find God there. The places through which he and the Israelites passed on their journey can help us understand the stages of our own spiritual journey.
The first stage of any journey is pre-awareness—a time, like the Israelites experienced, where they didn’t even realize they were in bondage. Then comes awareness, when you begin to realize something is wrong and your heart is longing for something more. When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, we begin to see the possibility of living in a new way.
When you’re aware that change needs to be made, you reach a turning point. At this juncture, things may actually get worse before they get better. This is a challenging time for leaders, when they realize things are not going to be as easy as they hoped. But God, in His great kindness, promises to be with us always.He intentionally led the Israelites by what the New Living Translation calls “a roundabout way through the wilderness” (Exodus 13:18), because He knew they weren’t ready for the challenges a more direct route would have posed.
God is not about simply getting us to our destination. He is far more concerned with the process, and the transformation that is wrought in us through it. Only He knows exactly what we need to experience in order for our faith to be strengthened. Only He knows what will best prepare us for greater responsibilities down the line—like Moses faced when he and the Israelites were backed up to the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his minions breathing down their necks.
The Israelites felt exposed, and naturally panicked. Though Moses was aware of their emotional state, he was even more attuned to God’s presence. He told them to stand firm and they would see God deliver them. Only a leader who has waited for God in the darkest moments of her life and experienced God’s deliverance can remain calm in crises that precipitate fear and panic.
Have you ever wished God would simply deliver you, because you wanted to avoid the pain of change?
What steps can you take to learn to embrace the process, knowing His perfect will is for you to be whole?
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®. COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984 BY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY®.
“Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.