Pharaoh was a monarch, but more than that, he believed that he was the ultimate power. He dictated and controlled countless lives by force. When people did not follow his direction, they were beaten into submission.
This produced a very broken and very grumpy society.
When the Israelites found themselves in the middle of the wilderness, being led by one of the most humble men in history, it set the stage for a complete remake of their understanding of leadership.
For centuries the Hebrew people had been controlled, but now they had to learn to control themselves. And they failed quite often.
They had bread and they grumbled for meat. (Numbers 11) They had seen God provide for every need and they grumbled and quarreled with Moses about water. (Exodus 17) They were invited to commune with the God-Who-Is-Actively-Present and instead they stayed behind and worshiped a golden calf, a god-who-is-nothing. (Exodus 32) They refused to listen to Aaron and Moses, who had humbly rejected being the sole survivors when God’s anger burned against the nation, and chose instead to listen to a group of men who demanded to be honored. (Numbers 14 & 16)
Oh, yes, they failed quite often.
But slowly, over time, they began to learn. To learn that God is great and man is called to be humble, to keep their hearts soft. To learn that they were powerless without God.
Moses, a man who had been trained in Pharaoh’s courts, became a picture of servant-leadership. He could have been used in Egypt, when he was a prince and a man of acclaim. But that is now how God chose to use him. Instead, he was broken, much like the people he would eventually lead, and exiled. Only after forty years of his own wilderness-lessons did God put him in a place of leadership.
Humbleness, it turns out, is the most important leadership quality. And it would be through Moses’ humbleness that God would obliterate Pharaoh’s pride.
Ten years ago I sat in a doctor’s office and found out that I would, at the very least, struggle to have children. Four years went by in Egypt, where in pride I dealt with my troubles. I could face them, you know. I could deal with them. Infertility is not too difficult a road. You just adopt or decide to be content. No problem.
But in the wilderness I learned how foolish I had once been. In the wilderness I saw the ridiculousness of pride. In the wilderness I learned that words coming from pride are worthless and those spoken with broken humbleness are more valuable than gold.
I have stood in front of hundreds of women and spoken about redemption and grace. But I only have that right because I spent time in the wilderness and scraped the bottom of myself and then, down there where pride is slaughtered, God said, “Now I can use you.” And the story of the wilderness is the story I tell.
As it turns out, nobody cares how a strong person triumphs. But someone who is weak and broken? Those are the stories that resonate. Those are the stories that build up faith. Those are the stories that are worth something. Because those are the stories that glorify and honor God as Healer, Redeemer, and Savior.
We are all called to be leaders. There are some who are gifted for leading large groups, but we are all called to disciple and share the truth with those who are lost. And the only way that we can do it effectively, is by learning servant leadership. By spending time in the wilderness where our pride is broken and our hearts are humbled.
God doesn’t save nations through prideful, self-sufficient hearts. He saves nations through men and women who have learned to bow low before Him.
The reason is simple: in pride we don’t need God. And to effectively lead others, we have to depend on God or we will make ourselves into gods, as Pharaoh did.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Psalm 10:4 niv)
To learn servant leadership,
we need to bend low.
To scrape the bottom of ourselves and surrender it all to Him.
Imagine a church filled with men and women who knew and understood the need to crush pride and kneel in humbleness. Imagine a world full of Christians known as servant-leaders. Can you see it?
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. (I Corinthians 4:1 niv)
Let’s kneel, friends. Let us all kneel.
Lessons From The Wilderness Part One: HOW TO LEARN TO TRUST GOD