In my last post, I shared the first lesson from the life of Moses on how God makes a leader: Leaders are Made Through Brokenness Before Experiencing Breakthrough. Today I want to share the second key God uses in his leadership development process: Leaders are Made in Private Before Recognized in Public.
Initially Moses was not recognized as a leader. In fact, he was stunned when the Israelites turned on him after he killed the Egyptian. He fled to Midian and entered a 40-year private process of being shaped by God. During those 40 years in the wilderness, Moses learned three important lessons:
Lesson #1: Moses Learned that Motive is More Important than Method
In Egypt, Moses was driven by a motive that sought personal glory. His ego-driven leadership drove him to kill an Egyptian. Acts 7:25 says, “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” But in Midian, his motive was humble service. The Bible says in Exodus 2:16-17, “Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.” Moses had to exchange his arrogant motive for that of a servant–and that leads us to the second lesson.
Lesson #2: Moses Learned that Being a Servant is More Important than Being Served
Acts 7:22-23a says, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites…” In Egypt, Moses was used to being served, which very well may explain the Israelites response after he killed the Egyptian. But in Midian, Moses became a servant, beginning with the help he offered to Jethro’s daughters. The daughters later said to their father, “an Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” A man who was served all of his life suddenly found himself far removed from the receiving end. And for the next 40 years, he had plenty of opportunity to learn the value of servanthood.
Lesson #3: Moses Learned that God’s Timing Must be Trusted
Moses operated according to his own timetable in Egypt, taking the deliverance of Israel into his own hands and at his preferred time. But after fleeing Egypt, Moses was forced to recognize God’s timetable. Exodus 2:23 begins, “During that long period…” When God makes a leader, it’s a process not an event–a 40 year process in the case of Moses. Why it took so long, we may never know. However, it is interesting to note that the length of his private making was in direct proportion to the length of his public leadership.
Perhaps the reason God takes leaders through a private-making process is so they can die to themselves in such a way that when they are recognized in public, the glory and recognition goes to God, not their ego. Motive, servanthood, and timing are difficult lessons to learn. That may be why most leaders have desert experiences.
Questions: How is God shaping you? What are the lessons you’re learning in your own private-making desert?