Thin Ice: God’s Patience Has A Limit

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God has a limit, and it’s best not to push it. He has given us ways to pour out our frustrations with his methods—prayer; ways to voice our concerns about human leadership—respectful debate; ways to speak our mind over grievances—Matthew 18. But there is a point when God says, “trust me on this. I’ll handle it in my way and in my time. In the meantime, submit to your current circumstance—consider your hardship as my Fatherly discipline.” At that point, is best not to wear God’s patience thin by continuing to push your grievance!

Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 17:1-5

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff.  On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

I grew up in the era where parents still disciplined their kids for misbehavior, in a physical sort of way, if you get my drift. At least mine did! And one thing my siblings and I learned after several encounters with our father’s approach to corporal punishment was that there was a thin line of parental patience that we dare not cross. We could crowd the line—which we did, early and often—but we were wise not to step beyond it. It took several missteps, but eventually we got it. And once we did, we settled into sort of a parent-child détente, if you will. Childhood was much more pleasurable for Ken, Bill and Ray (by the time our little sister Teresa came along, she seemed to live under a different set of discipline rules than we did—boo—but that’s for later).

One of the things that the child of God learns along the way, if they are wise, that is, is not to wear God’s patience thin. Of course, God is patient, and kind. He is the gold standard of longsuffering, for which we all should continually say, “praise the Lord.” He finds no pleasure in punishing his wayward children, but as some point, like a good parent, he must punish our sins in order to teach us to live in a manner that is glorifying to him and health-giving to us. Deuteronomy 8:5 reminds us,

Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.

Numbers 17 is a continuation of the story from the previous chapter where some of the so-called leaders of the new nation of Israel are challenging the leadership authority of Moses and Aaron. In particular, Aaron seems to be the butt of their jealousy. Numbers 16:1-3 sets the scene,

Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

What we learn in this uprising, and others like it throughout Scripture, is that the protest is not against a man, in this case, Moses or Aaron, but against God himself. You see, Moses didn’t elect himself to be the president of Israel, nor did Aaron anoint himself as the nation’s preacher. God chose them. So when the other leaders, for whatever reason, criticized the current leadership structure, they were in reality criticizing the Lord himself. They were showing disrespect and distrust of Almighty God, even if they were unware of what they were doing:

Moses said, “It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” (Numbers 16:11)

Now to be transparent, Moses himself, had learned this very lesson the hard way. Remember when God met Moses at the burning bush and called him to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt? (Exodus 3-4) Moses thought himself quite unqualified for the job, thank you very much, especially since he had already failed miserably in delivering Israel from Egypt forty years prior. But God had now come to him in a burning bush—a burning bush for crying out loud—and Moses was actually arguing with the miracle of God’s fiery presence. And after quite a few protestations, God’s patience with Moses wore dangerously thin:

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Then the Lord became angry with Moses. (Exodus 4:13-14)

Similarly, in Numbers 17, the other leaders who were questioning God’s choice of Aaron found the limit of God’s patience. And wisely, they backed off, which was a good thing, since God said of them, “This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” (Numbers 17:10)

The point being, God has a limit. And it is best not to push it. It is best not to make him angry. He has given us ways to pour out our concerns about his will and his ways. It is called prayer. He has given us ways to voice our concerns about human leadership. It is called respectful debate. He has given us ways to speak our mind over grievances and hurts that others have inflicted on us. It is called Matthew 18. But there is a point when God says, “trust me. I will take care of this in my way and in my time. In the meantime, submit yourself to your current circumstance—consider your hardship as my Fatherly discipline.” At that point, is best not to wear God’s patience thin by continuing to push your grievance!

It is best not to wear God’s patience thin! You do not want to cross the line from the Fatherly discipline of hardship and discomfort to Divine punishment. A wise child will figure out when that is—and learn to back away from the line in loving trust.

Going Deeper With God: Have you been pushing the limits of trust by refusing to accept the things that you cannot change, and that God has refused to change for you? Give that some thought; it is an opportunity for you to grow in patience and trust.

Submission To Spiritual Authority

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Next time you are frustrated with your spiritual leader, or are tempted to go along with someone who is criticizing them, just remember what Hebrews says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” So give your leader a break.

Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 16:1-3, 11

One day Korah…conspired with Dathan and Abiram…they incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people. …Then Moses said, “The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against!”

Just as we have learned in previous chapters about complaining (Exodus 15, Leviticus 6, Numbers 14), so criticism and rebellion against a spiritual leader is tacit rebellion against God himself:

The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against! …these men have shown contempt for the Lord. (Numbers 16:11, 20)

Let this be a warning to all of us who follow Christ. God has placed spiritual leaders to watch over his people. They are charged with caring for them, protecting them from predators, representing their needs to God, representing God’s will to them, and leading them to accomplish God’s mission on Planet Earth. God always works through human leaders.

It is true, as Korah and Company pointed out, the spiritual leader that God has placed over the spiritual community, big or small, is no better than the people they serve. All of God’s people have been set apart. Yes, God is with them all. Korah was right.

But Korah was wrong to assume that there was no difference between Moses and those he led. He was mistaken in thinking that just anyone could lead. He failed to understand that not all had been set apart to administrate God’s presence among his people and to ensure those people were following in the ways of God. You see, not all had been taken into God’s confidence as the representative of the people—only Moses. Not all had been given the leader’s measure of authority to use for the good of the people—only Moses. Not all had been called to surrender their lives for the well-being of the flock they lead—only Moses.

You see, God has ordained a leader to lead his flock, and that leader alone is accountable to God for the faithful execution of the duties of leadership.

So when people reject the authority of the leader by complaining, criticizing, comparing and/or creating a rebellion, God will remove his covering from that person and they will suffer the consequences. In the case of these usurpers in Numbers 16, their punishment was instantaneous death in the most dramatic fashion: the four leaders of the uprising, along with their families and everything they owned were swallowed up by the earth while the 250 prominent people who sided with them were instantly vaporized by holy fire. Never has God made such a point about his desire that we submit to spiritual authority as he did on that day.

Now God may no longer execute judgment that quickly and dramatically toward against those who criticize and rebel against the spiritual authority that he has placed over them, but make no mistake, at some point, those who rebel have set up a blockage to God’s blessing. I am not predicting what the consequences might be—sickness, financial lack, loss of influence, family rebellion—but “don’t be misled—you cannot mock God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7)

Rebel against God’s authority and you will pay a heavy price. So let me make my appeal to you: honor your leader. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 says,

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. …Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Next time you are frustrated with your spiritual leader, or are tempted to go along with someone who is criticizing them, just remember what Hebrews says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”

Give your leader a break. Not only do they have to watch over their own soul, they have the impossible task of keeping you holy and presenting you perfect before Christ.

Going Deeper With God: Take a moment to express your thanks to God for the leaders he has placed over you to tend to your soul. Then take some time this week to write your leader a note expressing your love, support and gratitude.

Can God Trust Me?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

The most important benchmark for spiritual leaders is that they have gained God’s trust. If you aspire to influence with God, and by that, influence with people, then you must make it your prayer that God will find you trustworthy. And not only in your praying, you must make it your conscious and continual effort to be a man or woman of unquestionable trust. Nothing matters more.

Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 12:7-8

Of all my house, my servant Moses is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?

Time and again, Moses, hands down the greatest leader the world has ever known, faced challenges to his leadership. Even from within his inner circle there were people, who for a variety of reasons—all of them wrong—tried to take him down. Particularly disappointing was the uprising of his own brothers and sister against his God-given authority.

Miriam, with her brother Aaron’s support, became jealous of Moses and criticized him. God had been doing marvelous things among the Israelites, revealing his presence in ways not seen nor heard before. Most satisfying to the nation of Israel was that God was revealing himself to them as a very personal and powerful Deity. Of course, up to this point, Moses had been God’s point man. God spoke through him to the people in unheard of ways. But Moses was just one man, and the nation was exceedingly large, so God instructed Moses to expand the base of spokesmen so the word of the Lord could be spread more effectively among the two million Israelites. In Numbers 11, seventy elders of Israel were selected for that role. And even these men had gotten into the act and were prophesying as the Spirit of God came upon them. God was showing up, revealing his presence, revealing his word, revealing his power and revealing his provision.

Something else was showing us, too. Pride! Miriam and Aaron, too, had tremendous encounters with the Lord, and had been used in outstanding ways, but they wanted more. But when they saw Moses getting so much recognition from God and from the people, they were critical because, as his sister and brother, they knew he was flawed. And the perfect opportunity to bring him down a notch or two came in the form of his wife. They focused their criticism on the fact that he had married a non-Israelite woman, and used that as their justification to diminish him while seizing more recognition for themselves.

Amazingly, God stepped in to defend Moses: “Listen carefully to what I’m telling you. If there is a prophet of God among you, I make myself known to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But I don’t do it that way with my servant Moses; he has the run of my entire house; I speak to him intimately, in person, in plain talk without riddles: He ponders the very form of GodSo why did you show no reverence or respect in speaking against my servant, against Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8, MSG)

If you are a spiritual leader, how awesome would it be that God would literally come to your defense? Would to God that he would do that today when his human leaders are under unfair criticism and flesh-inspired attack!

But what is even more powerful is God’s evaluation of Moses as he sets Miriam and Aaron straight. God acknowledges that he speaks through others prophetically, but Moses is on an altogether higher plain—God trusts him, so he speaks to him face to face; Moses received the Lord’s direct communication; Moses sees the Lord as he is.

What a testimony! And as a spiritual leader, that should be the benchmark I set for both my life and ministry—that God trusts me.

That is my prayer, that God will find me trustworthy! How about you? In whatever role of influence God has given you, whether great or small, whether others respect your leadership or you are facing challenges, make it your aim to humbly, submissively offer yourself to the One you represent, and allow him to put his divine affirmation upon your leadership.

Going Deeper With God: Do you desire to be like Moses? Try offering this prayer: “Father god, make me Moses-like in my attitude, in my service to you, and in my influence with people. Thank you for hearing my prayer and answering me when I call out to you. What a gracious, merciful and loving Father you are.”

God’s Work—Our Work

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Our work matters to God, because it reflects his DNA. God is a working God and creative God. We ought therefore to work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus, as if we did no works.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 39:42-43

So the people of Israel followed all of the Lord’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he blessed them.

Thank God for work!  No—really!

When we first meet God in the Bible, he is a creating, working God. In fact, we first learn of God that he is the Creator. He takes nothing and makes it something, turning the mess into his masterpiece. Often in the creation account, we find that when God has finished a certain aspect of his work, he looked it over and upon examination, exclaimed, “that’s good.”

When God created the human couple, he declared that his work as Creator was done, and that it, too was good. In fact, he declared it to be his most impressive work: “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” But he didn’t stop either his work or his creativity; he simply assigned it to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:28, God says to the couple, “Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” In other words, now you take what I’ve done to the next level. Creatively work it so that it brings honor to me.

All that to say, in our passage today, we find a parallel to the creation account in Genesis: “Moses saw that the people had done, that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded, and his summation was that it was good. How do we know that? We see that in response to their creative work, “Moses blessed them. On God’s behalf, Moses is looking it over, then saying, “it is so good.”

Among the many things that could be said in commentary on the construction of the tabernacle, one of the things we can draw from this is a theology of work. Work is what God does, and being made in his image, being assigned responsibilities of co-rulership with him, work is what he has called us to do. Work is not a necessary evil, it is at the heart of our God-infused DNA. Furthermore, we have his creativity in our DNA as well, so our work is to be done in a way that creates beauty and value, bringing honor and glory to the Creator. That is why, over in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Colossians believers,

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:17-24)

So whether it is managing creation on God’s behalf in Genesis, or doing God’s work in constructing a beautiful tabernacle in Exodus, or giving effort in whatever our daily life brings to us, in marriage, our family, or on the job either as an employee or an employer, God has ordained our work. So therefore,

  1. Our work is to do God’s work. In fact whatever we do is God’s work.
  2. In our work we are actually managing God’s creation for him, no matter what it is we have been assigned to do.
  3. When we do our work as God’s work, and we carry out our work in God’s way, we will never lack God’s favor and God’s provision. Like Moses did with the tabernacle workers, God will review it and reward it.

And as we approach our work in that way, whatever we do, big or small, glorious or common, we will find great joy and eternal significance in knowing we have done it as service unto the Lord Christ.

Going Deeper With God: Reevaluate your work: What you are doing is God-ordained and is an opportunity to be God-honoring. It is an opportunity for you to manage the part of creation assigned to you—at least for the time being—to add value and beauty to it, and to please the true Boss of your work.

The Radiant Face of Your Pastor

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Moses was tasked with leading a people, some of whom didn’t want to follow, others who were jealous of him, and some who just didn’t like him or his style of leading. But God gave Moses a gift to fulfill his high call: the dramatic Presence of God himself. As a result, the glory of the Lord lit up Moses’ face whenever he returned to the people from the Lord’s presence. Most pastors don’t expect something that dramatic, but they do crave God’s approval as they stand before their people. Without that, they’ve got nothing.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 34:29-30,35

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him…they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

Most of the direct interaction pastors have with the people of their church is quite positive and appreciative. Those who are upset and who do not appreciate their pastor’s leadership style or his ministerial abilities don’t usually speak to the pastor directly—which is certainly the Biblical approach to handling differences—they tell other people. Pastors usually hear of it either second or third hand, or after the fact when those who are disgruntled have landed in another church.

This is, undoubtedly, the most disheartening thing that the pastor faces. Don’t let your pastor kid you: he takes it personally. (I realize your spiritual leader may be a woman, but just for the sake of discussion, let me use the masculine pronoun to refer to your pastor.) It gnaws at his insecurities, shakes his confidence in his abilities, discourages his spirit, frustrates his vision, and if all that weren’t enough, it hurts his feelings. Yes, pastors have feelings just like you. I know all of this because I am a pastor, and because I interact with enough of them to know this is true.

Is the challenge the pastor faces any different than the one Moses faced? He was tasked with leading a people, some of whom didn’t want to follow, others who were jealous of him, and some who just didn’t like him or his style of leading. But God gave Moses some special gifts to fulfill his high call: miracles, Divine interventions, the dramatic Presence of God himself, and in this case, the glory of the Lord that lit up Moses’ face whenever he would return to the people from the Lord’s presence.

Most pastors I know don’t expect something that dramatic—neither do I. But we do crave some sort of Divine aide that will indicate the Lord’s approval as we stand before our people. Our only qualification to lead is God’s anointing upon our life and ministry. Without that, we’ve got nothing.

What is interesting to note is that even though Moses had these Divine displays of affirmation on his résumé, there were still those who resisted and rejected his leadership. I guess it happens to the best of them—and I guess I, and every other spiritual leader, have to steel ourselves against the insecurities, oppositions and rejections that will assault our leadership at one time or another.

But at the end of the day, for most of the pastors I know, including me, the privilege of representing God to the people and the people to God is more than enough to make up for any slight, oversight, or personal inconvenience we may experience.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Going Deeper With God: Here is a prayer you might consider lifting up to God on behalf of your spiritual leader: “Dear Father, I am not asking for you to make my pastor’s face to glow like Moses. But Lord, it is true that my leader cannot fulfill his Divine calling to lead me and my fellow believers to the victories you have destined our church to achieve without your visible anointing and favor upon his life. So I ask that you would put your hand on him in a special way. Cleanse him that he might contain your holy favor and purify his motives that he might handle your blessing and anointing as a sacred trust. And fill him with the Moses-like enabling Presence that your people will be inspired to follow. Cause your Presence to go before him…let your hand be with him…expand his territory…bless him indeed…and cause his life to expended for your glory and honor.”

You Are On My Heart

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

What does your pastor do? He or she is to represent you before God, and God to you.  Likewise, your pastor is tasked with making sure you know and lovingly follow the will of God for your life. And namely, God’s will for you is your sanctification—that you walk in holiness before the Lord

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 28:29-30

In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord. Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the Lord’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the Lord’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the Lord.

In the Old Testament, it was the priesthood; in the New Testament community, it was the pastorate. In both cases, God saw fit to call certain people out of the community of faith for the purpose of watching over the souls of the people—and that includes you. Not only does your pastor have the task of walking in personal holiness before the Lord, they have taken on responsibility for your spiritual well being.

Whether it was the priesthood or the pastorate, one of the high privileges and sacred responsibilities of the spiritual director was to represent his or her charges before the Lord. In this story, as the template for vocational ministry was laid out, Aaron, the proto-pastor/priest, was to keep the names of the people next to his heart as he entered the Lord’s presence as a reminder. This reminder was not in the sense of that either he or the God to whom he was bringing his people had forgotten them, but it was a reminder in the sense that his intercession for them was to be a high priority.

Likewise, Aaron was to keep the mysterious sacred objects, the Urim and the Thummim, used to determine God’s will, next to his heart as well, as a reminder that a high priority to God was that the people clearly know and willingly follow the Lord’s will. That was Aaron

That is your pastor’s role, too. He or she is to represent you before God, and God to you. The pastor is to serve in the same sense that your faithful high priest Jesus now serves: making intercession before the Father on your behalf:

Therefore Jesus is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. (Hebrews 7:25)

Likewise, your pastor is tasked with making sure you know and lovingly follow the will of God for your life. And namely, God’s will for you is your sanctification—that you walk in holiness before the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) And not only is that a task, that is your pastor’s passion for you. If their calling is authentic, and they are walking out that calling properly, their work concerns your spiritual well being—both in time and what will count for all eternity. Your pastor is not doing ministry just for the fun of it. No, the pastor’s passion is seeing Christ fully formed in you, seeing you fully mature in Jesus. (Galatians 4:19)

What your shepherd is doing in ministry touches the very core of your eternal being. So because of the important role the pastor plays on your behalf is so vital, make their job as easy for them as you can by joyfully entering into spiritual partnership. Make it a joint venture, where you fully cooperate with God and pastor in the process of your spiritual formation. God will be pleased—and so will your pastor.

As I was writing this devotional, I came across a prayer that I had written down some time back for the people of the church that I shepherd. Not that I want to promote my own worthiness or importance as a pastor, but I want to give you insight into what I, and whoever your pastor might be, daily carry on our heart:

Dear Father, you have called me to be both a priest to represent the people in your presence and a pastor, to shepherd them into your will. That high privilege and sacred duty is to be kept always at the front of my heart. Forgive me that I often make my relationship with you—my wants, my desires, my thoughts, my fears—my priority, and I neglect the needs of my people. Help me to change, to balance my needs with their needs. Help me to be a loving and effective spiritual director for the good people you have given me to shepherd. Lord, they are good people—and they need your blessings so much. I pray that you would prosper them and show them your favor. Bless them with health, with more than adequate finances, with strong marriages and loving homes, with respectful kids; transform their minds and enable them to see that lasting joy and real significance comes from putting your purposes first in their lives. Make them truly kingdom minded, purpose driven people. In our gatherings, release your presence and your power among us in ways that transform us. And Lord, enable me to be the earthly leader that brings heaven to their souls. They are your people, the sheep of your flock. Be gracious and merciful to them in practical ways this week, O Lord. Cause your will to be fulfilled among them—unify them, energize them, help them, feed them, reveal your glory to them, transform them into the people you have desired for them to become. In the name of the true and great Shepherd and Guardian of their souls, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!

That is what someone is praying on your behalf today. I truly hope that encourages you!

Going Deeper With God: Since I have shared a prayer that I have offered for the sheep of my flock, may I suggest a simple prayer that you offer up to God for the pastors who have watched over your soul throughout the course of your life? Whether they are still serving, or have retired, or have gone on to their eternal reward, I’m sure the Lord would be pleased: “Dear Father, thank you for every spiritual leader who has contributed to my spiritual formation. Bless them abundantly. Let them know that their efforts have not been wasted. Allow them to experience the joy of knowing this sheep is well on the way to being presented perfect before Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen!”

What Jethro Can Teach You

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

There is hardly a better investment in this life than recruiting, mentoring, and releasing leaders into the service of that over which God has given you authority.

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 18:13-17

Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law, Jethro, saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.

This a story in Exodus 18 provides us with some helpful insights into why we should raising up leaders and how we can go about it—whether that be in our home, business, church or any other arena of life where God has given us influence.

First, the why: in the work of the Kingdom, good is often the enemy of the best. You will notice in Exodus 18:9 that “Jethro was delighted to hear of all the good things God had done for Israel.” Israel had witnessed the mighty hand of God — divine protection, outstanding miracles and supernatural progress. But they had settled for something less than God’s best. As the story continues, Jethro watched Moses wearing himself out administrating the blessings, so he said Exodus 18:17, “What you are doing is not good.”

God’s blessing on a thing is never an excuse to settle for that—it is never the end. The blessing is only the beginning for more blessing, which always requires a realignment of the way we administrate God’s favor. God blessed Israel—that was good—but a release of even more blessing required Moses to release leadership to others to help administer it—that was better.

So Jethro showed Moses how he was to recruit leaders to take on ministry—which would release Moses to even greater productiveness. Here are six laws of leadership recruitment that worked for Moses, and will work for you:

The first law of leadership recruitment is SELECTING. The Exodus 18:21 calls Moses to “select capable people—they fear God, are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain.” Your assignment as a leader is to continually watch for people with leadership potential. How do you identify those capabilities? Jethro says they are to: One, have a deep reverence—they have the fear of the Lord. Two, have proven themselves dependable in smaller matters—they are trustworthy. Three, have pure motives—they hate dishonesty

The second law of leadership recruitment is EQUIPPING. In Exodus 18:20, we see there must be an ongoing, systematic program to train all people in the principles of Godly leadership. Not everyone will become a leader, but everyone can benefit from the principles of leadership. That’s because they all will have roles of influence somewhere…home, business, community. Training all the people in your sphere of influence will expand the leadership pool from which you recruit.

The third law of leadership recruitment is MENTORING. In the last part of Exodus 18:20, Jethro said, “Show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” Basically, your responsibility is to reproduce yourself in the lives of others. If you’re not doing that, you are not a leader—or a very effective one. But good leaders show by their lives and their actions a good pattern for others to follow. That implies you have an intentional plan for mentoring, and not just a hope that others will pay attention to what you’re doing.

The fourth law of leadership is EMPOWERING. In the last part of Exodus 18:21, Jethro says that Moses is to appoint them as “officials”. In other words, don’t just give them a title and a responsibility, give them authority to lead.

The fifth law of leadership recruitment is ACCOUNTABILITY. In Exodus 18:22 Jethro says that with responsibility and authority there must also be accountability: “Have them bring the difficult cases to you.” There is to be a system where the new leader circles back to the chief leader, whose discernment will always be needed. So they will have to be accountable to you, and you will have to stay involved monitoring their ministry progress and effectiveness.

The sixth law of leadership recruitment is SANITY. In Exodus 18:23, Jethro says to Moses, “if you do this, you will be able to stand the strain of leadership and all the people will be satisfied.” Leadership should never drive you crazy or stress you beyond your ability to cope or destroy your personal life. Leadership is meant to be a joy. And your leadership is meant to produce deep satisfaction in the lives of those you lead. The presence of unrelenting stress in the leader’s life and dissatisfaction among the people is a clear indication that these godly principles of leadership development have been ignored.

Then Jethro gave the best reason of all to put these principles to use when he said to Moses and by extension, to you and me, in Exodus 18:23, “And so God commands.”

There is hardly a better investment than in recruiting, mentoring, and releasing leaders into the service of that over which God has given you authority.

Going Deeper With God: Is there someone in your sphere of influence you can train for leadership? Do it—it’s a worthy investment of time, energy and resources.