This post was originally published on the Nameless Collaborative blog here.
The key to successful leadership is vision. People following need direction, leading to a destination. So what happens when you, as the leader, are in the middle of a foggy season? What happens when you find yourself questioning your abilities and uncertain about your destination? If you are pioneering the way for anything, you probably find yourself asking these questions more times than not. So what now? How do you lead those following while walking through your own struggles in the navigation process?
I found myself this week asking these very questions. As I thought on the answers, I was reminded of a great leader in the Bible I could take some notes from, Moses. A man who truly embodied the term pioneer, Moses continually led through unchartered territory, blazing a trail to freedom. Here are three lessons I took from Moses that have brought clarity to a seemingly foggy moment in my own leadership journey:
- Get away to hear the voice of the Lord. There are several occasions that Moses got away to hear the Lord, but the occasion that I love the most was the very first encounter. In Exodus 3, there was a burning bush in the wilderness where Moses was working. This was not an uncommon event in this area, but the flames were not consuming the bush and that was certainly uncommon. The Lord didn’t immediately speak from the bush when Moses saw it (the Bible clearly highlights that Moses first simply sees the burning bush but then decides to turn aside from what he was doing and truly take in this great sight). The Bible says, “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush.” (Exodus 3:4). When I hear this story I immediately think of the amount of times I miss hearing His voice simply because I do not take the time to turn aside. Some days are filled with too many to do's and demands that I miss the most important moments of the Lord drawing me near to His presence. The lesson I learn from Moses here is to take the time to get away, be in His presence and hear what the Lord is speaking.
- Don’t let self-doubt stop you from blazing the trail. In Exodus 6, the Lord asks Moses to go and speak to Pharaoh. Moses immediately argues with God about his inability to speak well and doubted he could accomplish what the Lord was asking of him. Sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times the Lord has asked something of me and my immediate response is, "You got the wrong girl, Lord." I am sure He has a good chuckle at my own vanity thinking it would be by my strength alone that accomplishes the task at hand. There was a nation in need of freedom and despite Moses’ weakness, He was used to deliver the message of the Lord and set the captives free. The lesson I learn from Moses here is even when I doubt myself and my ability to step forward in the trail ahead, He will find a way to use me for His glory despite my inadequacy if I am willing to walk.
- When you don’t know what to do next, look at what is already in your hand. In Exodus 14, Moses was up against a serious problem, the seemingly impossible. The Israelites had been freed from slavery only to be found stuck in the wilderness with the Egyptians quickly approaching. I can only imagine the thoughts running through Moses’ mind as the very enemy the Israelites had been freed from was now at their heels. The Israelites became panic stricken, looking to Moses to blame for the perceived failure. What next? I cringe hearing this part of the story as I have found myself in this same position. Leading in the midst of doubt. Telling the people, it is going to be ok, not believing my own words. Have you ever had a moment in leadership when all following are looking straight to you in a state of panic, in need of a miracle to move forward? What next? Funny enough, this is what the Lord says to Moses in this very moment. "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water." (Exodus 14:15-16). It is as if the Lord is saying, "Stop whining to me for a miracle Moses, get these people going and use what is in your hand. I gave you a job to do, do it." Maybe this is also what the Lord is saying to you; stop crying out to me for the miracle that I have already placed in your hands. Stop crying out for a direction I have already set you in the path of. The lesson I learn from Moses in this part of his journey is when I find myself crying out to the Lord for answers because moving forward seems impossible, the Lord will use the very things in my hand to make the impossible, possible.
So when you find yourself leading through the fog or trying to navigate uncharted territory in the midst of questioning the destination, go back to the basics. Take the leadership lessons from a true pioneer like Moses. Get away to hear the voice of the Lord, don’t let self-doubt stop you from blazing the trail, and when you simply don’t know what to do next, look at what is already in your hand. Lead bold, sweet friend; you are not alone.
About Sarah Birkbeck
Sarah Birkbeck is the founder of Refresh. She and her husband James have three kids and live in McKinney, Texas. Her passion to see women actively walking out their God dreams lead her to start Refresh in her home in 2012. When she isn’t working on the Refresh vision, you can find her in car line, at coffee with someone inspiring, traveling the world or curled up on the couch with coffee…and cake.