introduced this matter of leadership in a more-or-less
general way, we now proceed to look into it more closely
in order to learn from Bible examples the principles
which are basic to it and the features which delineate
coming to our first great example let us emphasize the
two common factors in spiritual leadership.
the fact of the sovereign act of God. In His choice of
men for specific responsibility God acts in the absolute
right and independence of His own sovereignty. No one is
allowed to question His act, His judgment, His reason.
Sovereignty is unpredictable. God is answerable to no
one, neither is He responsible to anyone. His thoughts
and His ways are unfathomable, and in His wisdom He waits
long past His acts for vindication. But it is always
vindicated in the final issue.
second factor is that of God linking Himself with a
vessel — a human vessel, and linking that vessel
with Himself for a special purpose. This is the meaning
of anointing in both Testaments. Anointing in which God
so commits Himself to the vessel is always related to
purpose, and man cannot touch that vessel or dispute its
work without having — sooner or later, by sudden
intervention or the slowly-grinding mills of God —
to reckon with God. It is here that we are forbidden to
judge God’s instruments on the ground of their
humanity apart from God. We may think that they provide
ground for adverse judgment but if God is using them and
is with them it will only bring us into a controversy on
the part of God with us if we touch His anointed, in word
or deed. The Bible has many instances of this. Provided
the vessel remains in meekness, God will take full
responsibility for its defects, and for its vindication.
said that, we can now proceed to the first example of
leadership in the Bible. While the principle of
leadership was at work from the beginning, leadership
only had its full expression when there was a people
needing and prepared for it. This full expression of the
principle first came out in Moses.
Moses — the first of
the great Bible leaders
we have said regarding the sovereignty of God is
unmistakable in the case of Moses. From his birth and
preservation at birth right through his history all the
evidences of his being “a chosen vessel” are
clear. He was where he was because God did it. Even when,
out of sympathy and wrath, he essayed to assume the
position of deliverer, that was negatived, because this
thing had got to be so utterly of God.
endurance of Moses is a matter that is remarked upon in
Scripture, but that endurance, as ours will be, was
greatly supported by his later knowledge that he was
where he was because God had done it, and it was not of
his own choosing. How important it is that Christians,
and especially Christian leaders should be in a position
to say emphatically that they know how true Christ was
when He said, “Ye did not choose me, but I chose
you”. This foundation of “an act of God”
is the only one to support the tremendous weight of
responsibility and demand that leadership has to
second thing that comes out so clearly as making for
leadership is the firsthand knowledge and experience of
that out from which we are to lead others.
had forty of the years in Egypt when the Pharaoh-complex
of Joseph’s time had so utterly changed from favour
to hostility. He was born into that hostility and hatred
and would have known from his mother and sister of his
own Providential escape. He knew the palace and its
tensions. He lived in the atmosphere of mingled fear and
animosity. He daily saw the conditions of his own people.
As with Joseph, “the iron entered into his
soul”. No doubt that background contributed greatly
to his later reluctance to go back and his effort to find
a way out of so doing.
not God’s way to send inexperienced people into
leadership-responsibility. Such people are really
handicapped and in serious weakness. A part of the
training of any leader should be a firsthand
knowledge of the world and its inimical forces, and a
life with God in the midst thereof.
servant of God has been profoundly thankful in after
years that, in the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God,
he had periods in conditions against which God reacted
through him. This may apply to various aspects and phases
of life. God places His servants in situations which are
not His ultimate will for them, and the time will come
when they react against what at one time seemed to
be wholly or almost wholly of God. It is strange that it
is possible at one time to believe a position to be wholly
of God, and later to discover that it was only the
provisional will of God to qualify for something quite
other. Such servants of God take with them through life a
very real inside knowledge which makes it possible
for them to say, “We speak that which we do
know”. We could hardly exaggerate the importance and
value of this factor in leadership.
third factor in this leadership is a fundamental lesson
that the work of God is essentially spiritual. Moses was
“learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians”.
He no doubt had natural endowments. He certainly had rich
acquired qualifications. He was evidently a man of
considerable physical strength. His natural disposition
was to be thorough in anything that he undertook, as we
see from him slaying the Egyptian and separating the
quarrelling Hebrews. He was not lacking in zeal nor weak
in initiative. But with all this God did not take him up
on those grounds. “Not by might, nor by power”
are words which very aptly apply to Moses at the age of
weapons of our warfare are not carnal”. The real and
eternal aspect of God’s work is spiritual, therefore
only spiritual men with spiritual experience and
resources can do it effectively. God’s true leaders
are spiritual men and men of the Spirit.
our natural ability, our training, our acquired
qualifications, our strength, zeal, and learning will
prove of little avail when we come up against the
ultimate forces of the universe, which are spiritual.
This Moses well knew when he came actually to his
is often born of the deep discipline of failure and
self-discovery. The second forty years of his life served
such a purpose and were no doubt deeply tinged with the
bitterness of self-disillusionment. He was in a much
safer place when he shrank from the responsibility than
when he self-confidently tackled it in his own strength.
further qualification for leadership as seen in the case
of Moses is faithfulness, promptness, and humility in
ordinary and unspectacular affairs.
a few sheep at the back side of the desert by an
erstwhile royal prince of Egypt for a considerable number
of years could be a fair test of patience and lack of
bitterness. The opportunity to help some defenceless
women to get their flocks watered was neither beneath his
dignity nor an annoying interruption in preoccupation
with “higher and more important matters”. He
was not so disaffected by his disappointment as to be
contemptuous of a humble piece of work. High-mindedness
is a disqualification for leadership. The Lord watches
the out-of-sight life and determines His approval there.
A true leader is not one who has to be shown and asked to
do menial things, but one who sees a need and
self-forgettingly lends a hand. It is quite evident that
God knew where Moses was and that he was not a castaway
servant. Moses had been inwardly disciplined in the
school of inaction, a very hard school for his active and
energetic type. The self-emptying had been a painful
process, but it had effected God’s intention and put
him on that essential ground of spiritual leadership
which is “no confidence in the flesh”;
“all things are of [out from] God”.
the immediate point is that upon which the Lord’s
eye was looking during the time of waiting. That is, a spirit
of service. It is so easy to be active and energetic when
there is some big, interesting, or worthwhile job on
hand, especially if it is in the public eye or alongside
of others. But the real test is when things are quite
otherwise and we are right down to bedrock principle; the
principle of conscientiousness without the influence of
relatedness in responsibility and another’s eye upon
us. Service is a spirit, not an outward obligation. There
is very little of the spirit of service left in the world
now, but with God it has always been something of which
He has taken particular account. This is His law
of trust and approval: “He that is faithful in that
which is least”. Say what we may about Moses
himself, and of divine sovereignty in his life, but let
it be understood that divine sovereignty does not bypass
simple “everyday” behaviour in what may seem to
be very insignificant matters. A whole life’s
vocation may turn upon a seemingly small issue. It is
our spirit that God looks at. The few sheep at the
back of the desert; a few helpless women in difficulty
had a place in God’s esteem which led to a true
fifth point is the lesson of the bush. The episode of the
bush was the crisis and turning-point in the life
of Moses. We could say that the past forty years found
their meaning and issue here and the following forty
their strength. There is an incomparable meaning in this
and the significance was immense, for here we are in the
presence of the Triune God in combined operation unto the
emancipation of an elect people.
the Father was in the bush. God the Son was the
indestructible humanity — the Son of Man. God the
Holy Spirit was the fire. “God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself”(2 Cor. 5:19).
“Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit...” (Luke
4:1). “Ye shall receive power, the Holy Spirit
coming upon you” (Acts 1:8).
full and glorious meaning of the incarnation of
God’s Son unto redemption is symbolized in the
non-burning bush. (The Bible does not speak of the bush
as burning in the sense of being consumed.) When Moses,
many years after, pronounced the blessings upon the
tribes, the highly esteemed Joseph was to know “the
good will of him that dwelt in the bush” (Deut.
33:16). Moses came to understand that “good
will” in all its redeeming love. What a basis and
background for leadership!
may not have understood all the New Testament meaning,
but he came into the power.
Moses was meant to understand for his great
responsibility, was that humanity in itself may be frail,
weak, and as vulnerable as a bush of the desert, but if
God links Himself with it in the power of the Holy
Spirit, it can endure and live and triumph when naturally
it should succumb.
first place the bush represented Christ.
second place it represented the church.
third place it represented every God-chosen instrument of
survival but supernatural triumph — in a scorching
desert — is true of each.