Moses: A Study in Leadership

Posted on Posted in Quinn Hooks

MosesReggie 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 drains creativity and new ideas out of the culture into oblivion.

The culture today is in need of leadership which will reverse this trend.

Leadership Lessons from the Old Testament and Moses

It is not only true of the secular world but also of the church world. One of the more fascinating studies in biblical leadership is provided in the Old Testament by Moses.  Moses was

  • a leader
  • a statesman, and
  • a legislator par excellence. 

The life of Moses can be divided into three parts as God prepared him to lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.

3 Parts of Moses’ Leadership Development

In the first forty years of his life, Moses 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 proper time he could become the shepherd to the children of Israel.

Thirdly, in his last 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 him into the leader the Lord needed for His people to bring them out of bondage into freedom.

God molded Moses into a charismatic leader with leadership skills in delegation so that he could lead the children of Israel through the wilderness.

The Character Make-up of Moses as a Leader

Moses is an intriguing leader because he was a blend of 3 leadership styles.

  1. charismatic
  2. administrative 
  3. conflict resolution

A careful study of Moses’ temperament, his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will give rich application for anyone studying the subject of leadership and leadership development.

Moses’ Leadership Temperament

Moses’ leadership temperament was a blending of the positive and negative. 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.

Moses’ positive temperament provided him with a strong will counteracting the negative temperament of being weak-willed. Also, the compassionate heart of the positive temperament counteracts the ill-tempered tendency towards lacking compassion (Personal Temperament Test: Profile, 2008).

Laws of Leadership Used by Moses

Law of Dreams

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.

Law of Motivation

The Second Law he used was the Law of Motivation. This law states that people follow leaders who offer reasons to reach for a goal. If a leader provides a practical reason to work, people will follow that leader. Moses offered freedom as the motivation for the people to follow him (Towns, Elmer, 2007).

Law of Rewards

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 followers if that leader will offer rewards to the followers.

Law of Accountability

To have followers, a leader must reward them. Another 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).

Law of the Picture

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. A true leader will 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. Leaders who can paint a picture 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 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 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 his own people doubted him (Towns, Elmer, 2007).

Law of Victory

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). This is 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 Great 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 Hitler. 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.

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 Promise Land and he identified the sources of the conflict his followers would face (Towns, Elmer, 2007).

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