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The Peculiar Loneliness of Leadership

J. Oswald Sanders, in his book Spiritual Leadership, said, “To aspire to leadership in God’s kingdom requires us to be willing to pay a price higher than others are willing to pay. The toll of true leadership is heavy, and the more effective the leadership, the higher it goes.”

Leadership is lonely in that it involves staying faithful to God and His calling on our lives, even in the face of criticism and failure. Though the Israelites wanted to turn back on more than one occasion, Moses knew HE couldn’t do that. He remained resolute in his purpose despite the whining and rebellion.

Though Moses seemed to take the difficulties in stride, at times the loneliness of leadership was more than he could bear. We see this vividly when he descended Mount Horeb after receiving the Ten Commandments. A moment of great spiritual significance turned quickly into disappointment and disillusionment as he entered the camp to find the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. He literally had to stand between his people and an angry God who wanted to wipe them out because of their idolatry. Moses begged for God’s mercy, even putting his own life on the line: “But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” (Exodus 32:32, NLT).

Our loneliness can only be transformed into fruitful solitude when we allow God’s presence to fill all our emptiness. If we have the courage to face our loneliness, God will meet us in our place of deepest need. In Exodus 33, Moses and God are having a conversation in which Moses asks God to show him His glory. God responds, The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.” (verse 19, NLT) We don’t know what transpired between God and Moses in this moment, but Moses emerged a changed person. He found renewed faith to fulfill his calling, and his face literally shown with the wonder of it all.

A.W. Tozer wrote, “Loneliness seems to be the price a saint must pay for his saintliness.” A leader must be a person who has sufficient inner resources to stand alone as Moses did, even in the face of stiff opposition.


Reflection Question

How can you remain resolute in your purpose even when others whine and complain?



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.