Reggie McNeal has pointed out that there is a leadership vacuum in American culture which not only poses a challenge but threatens the very fabric of society. This vacuum is a black hole whose gravitational pull of negativity sucks creativity and new ideas out of the culture into oblivion. The culture today is in need of leadership which will reverse this trend. It is not only true of the secular world but also of the church world (McNeal, Reggie, 1998). One of the more fascinating studies in biblical leadership is provided in the Old Testament by Moses. Moses was a leader, statesman, and legislator par excellence. His life can be divided into three parts as God prepared him to lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. In the first forty years of his life, he lived as Pharaoh’s son which gave him the benefit of the finest training in the world at that time. In the second forty years of his life spent in Midian, he became a shepherd so that at the appropriate time he could become the shepherd to the children of Israel. Then in his final forty years, he used the lessons learned to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and to the Jordan River (Lockyer, Herbert, 1958). God used Moses’ life experiences to shape into the leader He needed for His people to lead them out of bondage into freedom. He molded Moses in a charismatic leader with leadership skills in delegation so that he could lead the children of Israel through the wilderness. Moses is an intriguing leader because he was a blend of the charismatic, administrative, and conflict resolution leadership styles. A careful study of Moses’ temperament, Laws of Leadership he followed, his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will provide rich application for any student of leadership.
Moses’ leadership temperament was a blending of sanguine and choleric. These two temperaments create the strongest of extroverted personalities when combined. For this reason, Moses exhibited an orientation towards people through his compassionate and tender heart. This got him into trouble when he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew according to Exodus 2:11-12. When his fellow Hebrews and the Pharaoh condemned him for his action, he fled to Midian. The choleric temperament provided him with a strong will counteracting the sanguine temperament of being weak willed. Also, the compassionate heart of the sanguine temperament counteracts the choleric’s tendency towards lacking compassion (Personal Temperament Test: Profile, 2008).
Laws of Leadership Used by Moses
As a charismatic leader, the first Law of Leadership used by Moses was the Law of Dreams. This law states that people will follow a leader who gives them a desirable object or goal. Moses presented the people with a desirable object of the Promised Land where they would be free. The Second Law he used was the Law of Motivation. This law states that people follow leaders who provide reasons to reach for a goal. If a leader provides a viable reason to work, people will follow that leader. Moses offered freedom as the motivation for the people to follow him (Towns, Elmer, 2007).
As an administrative leader, the first Law of Leadership used by Moses was the Law of Rewards which is simply that a leader will have follower if that leader will provide rewards to the followers based on their self-chosen goals. To have followers, a leader must reward them. The second Law of Leadership used by Moses was the Law of Accountability. Moses observed this law in giving responsibilities to his followers. He gave Aaron the priestly responsibilities and appointed elders to deal with judicial responsibilities. In this way, Moses allowed his followers to contribute to the effort to reach the Promised Land (Towns, Elmer, 2007).
Moses exhibited much strength due to his charismatic and administrative leadership style. First of all, he was able to cast a vision of leaving Egypt to go to the Promised Land. This is a trait of charismatic leadership. They cast a vision to which their followers embrace (Towns, Elm, 2007). Maxwell refers to this as the Law of the Picture. People will do what they can envision according to Maxwell. Leaders with this ability are not only able to communicate the vision but they model the vision so that the picture comes alive for their followers. Moses was able to cast the vision for the people because he not only communicated it but he modeled it for them by his boldness before the Pharaoh (Maxwell, John, 1998/2007).
Moses encounter with God made him responsive to God’s will in his life. Moses knew leading the Hebrews out of Egypt was a calling upon his life and not a job. Billy Graham has stated it this way, “When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God” (Shelly, Marshall & Myra, Harold, 2005). It was there at the burning bush where Moses came to the end of himself and the beginning of God. It was time spent with God that gave him insight into God. According to Exodus 33:18, this intimacy led him to cry out on the mountain, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory!” (KJV). It was this relationship that convinced him that though he would face great opposition from the Pharaoh, he was convinced that God would give him the victory in pursuing of the calling that God had placed upon his life. He knew that God would empower him with the necessary abilities, talents, and skills necessary to fulfill this calling even when he own people doubted him (Towns, Elmer, 2007).
Moses endured until the Pharaoh weakened and relented. To commemorate this victory, Moses established a memorial to that great victory. From this he led them from victory to victory (Towns, Elm, 2007). Maxwell refers to this as the Law of Victory. Stated simply, leaders find a way for the team to win. An example of this law in action was Winston Churchill as Prime Minister of Britain during World War Two. He was unwilling to accept defeat. The idea of losing was alien to his thinking and to his leadership of the nation during the darkest hours of the struggle against fascism. Churchill would accept nothing less than total victory (Maxwell, John, 2007).
As an administrative leader, Moses showed strength through establishing his reputation with the plagues upon Egypt. Moses enhanced his reputation and credibility as a leader through memorials celebrating victories and recounting those victories through story telling. Upon the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro, Moses delegated authority to men selected to be judges to free Moses for more important leadership tasks (Towns, Elm, 2007).
As a conflict resolution leader, Moses dealt with internal and external conflicts. He did not take any conflict personally because he knew the battle belonged to God. Also, Moses laid out plans for the people when they came in possession of the Land so there would be less conflict and strife. He knew as a leader there would be conflict in taking the Land. He identified the sources of conflict his followers would face (Towns, Elmer, 2007).
It is ironic that Moses one of the excuses that he gives God for not wanting to go down to Egypt is because he was a poor speaker. His temperament usually is described as being the one most likely to say something wrong. Also, Moses struggled with his anger throughout his life as seen by his killing of the Egyptian in Exodus 4 and his anger causing him to strike the rock rather than speak to the rock for water as described in Numbers 20 which prevents him from entering the Promised Land (Personal Temperament Test: Profile, 2008). Moses is like any other person. He needed the constant filling of the Holy Spirit and a close walk with God as all people do.
Though he discounted his speaking ability at the burning bush, every time Moses had an opportunity to speak for God whether before the Pharaoh or the people, he did. Moses took every opportunity to keep the vision before the people and keep them motivated towards reaching the Promised Land. Moses also took the opportunity to mentor his successor as he took Joshua aside and trained him to be the next leader.
Moses made sure that the dream of reaching the Promised Land. He knew that he had to be wary of dream beyond the scope of God’s calling upon his life. He knew that if this occurred, then the dream of reaching the Promised Land would never be fulfilled.
Moses appeared more organized than he actually was. Jethro saw this danger and warned Moses that he was stretched too thin by all the responsibilities he had assumed. Thankfully, Moses heeded the warning and appointed judges to help him run the administrative side of leading the people.
In Numbers 16, Moses dealt with the most serious challenge to his leadership when Korah led a rebellion. Koran charged that Moses had been using the children of Israel to promote his own agenda and build his own kingdom. Moses turned to God knowing the battle belonged to the Lord. Korah and his followers were judged and Moses remained as the leader.
There is a leadership void in the church today as well as the secular world. To seek answers for this void, it requires for careful study of biblical leadership and application of those lessons. The study of Moses as a biblical leader is profitable to everyone in a leadership context. Moses was a leader. Everything in his life was used by God to prepare him for the day he would lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses is a rich model of leadership because he was a combination of the charismatic, administrative, and conflict resolution leadership styles. A careful study of Moses’ temperament, Laws of Leadership he followed, his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will profit any student of leadership.
- Lockyer, Herbert. (1958). All the Men of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
- Maxwell, John. (2007). The Twenty-one Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them an People Will Follow You (2nd ed.). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. (Original work published 1998)
- McNeal, Reggie. (1998). Revolution in Leadership: Training Apostles for Tomorrow’s Church. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
- Personal Temperament Test: Profile. (2008). The 12 Blends of Temperaments from the book “Why You Act The Way You Do” by Tim LaHaye. Retrieved 1 November 2008 from http://www.goingthedistance.org/pages.asp?pageid=18155
- Shelly, Marshall & Myra, Harold. (2005). The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
- Towns, Elmer. (2007). Bblical Models for Leadership. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.