When younger and zealous that things be done ‘properly’ I signed up to lead Bible studies, be a leader in organizations, and do things that I felt were being done by others without competence. Those people gladly stepped down so this ‘person of great confidence’ could take over the work that was discomforting them anyway.
Since then God has taught me two major lessons about what I was doing. The first was obvious: do not let my pride lead me. The second was less clear, at least at the time: do not butt into the struggles of others unless God directs because He may be teaching them something in that struggle.
The passage for today in “My Utmost for His Highest” reminds me that these are important principles. Moses had to learn them also . . .
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” (Exodus 2:11–14)
Like Moses, I’ve seen needs and felt as if I could meet those needs, right those wrongs, fix things. Even though the result of my pride induced actions was not feeding sheep in the wilderness for forty years, the Lord used the frustration of fruitlessness to make me aware that I needed to be trained and disciplined by Him. This is clearer in hindsight than it was during those many times of discouragement.
Being rightly gifted, deeply concerned, and in the right place at the right time does not necessarily mean that I am God’s choice for the task at hand, particularly if I presume it. Instead, the call of God is more likely to evoke the same response Moses had at the conclusion of his training period: “Who am I that I should go?”
Not only is humility a huge requirement in following the leading of the Lord into service, it is also required to keep from interfering in His plans for others. I know the ‘one anothers’ of the New Testament. Loving God’s people and serving them is an important mark of being a Christian. However, I’m not their Savior. There are some things that only He can do.
Later, after leading God’s people out of Egypt and into the wilderness, Moses was overwhelmed with his task. The people were too many for one person. God sent wisdom through another man who told Moses he needed to trust others to do a major portion of his work.
For some leaders, this is a blow to their ego. Yet learning to trust others to do the work I think I should do is a great blessing and source of joy. When I see fearful and hesitant believers step up to the plate and begin using their gifts in obedience to those ‘one anothers’ my heart simply sings. They will make mistakes just as I do, but in the process they are learning how to trust God and follow Jesus.
All of this is part of learning how to walk with the Lord. In His humanness, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) Even though Jesus did not have to deal with pride, He had to obey His Father and He never acted on His own initiative.
He also had to leave the work in the hands of others, a motley crew of disciples who seemed least likely to carry the good news of the kingdom to a blind and rebellious world. But they did — and He gave them all they needed to do it. He stood behind them.
He still stands behind His people, behind me in my fumbling, and with me in all my weaknesses. He never looks for self-confidence like the world does, but for those who are certain they cannot do it — because we cannot do it. This is the first requirement toward realizing how much I need Him.