Today’s Bible readings are Numbers 35, Isaiah 27-28, Psalm 140.
This devotional is about Numbers 35.
The best form of leadership is self-leadership. If every person would do what is right, what is wise, and what is best, then human leaders would be unnecessary. We would not need bosses, or human government, or even pastors.
Although self-leadership is the best form of leadership, it is also the most difficult form of leadership. Even when we know what is right, what is wise, what is best, we have trouble doing it. Laziness, lethargy, pride, and depravity call to us, making us yearn to do was is easy, pleasurable, or perverse rather than what is right. So all of us need human authority; each of us needs leadership to call us to do what is right, to lead us toward what is right, and to hold us accountable to righteousness.
Moses knew this as well as anyone else. In this chapter from Numbers 35, God told Moses that his time had come and his life would be over. Moses’s response was not to plead for more time; it was to beg God for godly leadership for the people (vv. 15-17). This shows why Moses was such a successful, godly leader. He cared about the people and what they needed more than himself and what he wanted or needed. His life illustrates what servant leadership is all about.
God was gracious to Israel and provided Joshua to succeed Moses. There was a very public transition from Moses to Joshua in verses 22-23. That transition provides an excellent model to follow anytime there is a change from one leader to another.
Notice, though, how Moses described the need for leadership in Israel. Recall that Moses had been a shepherd before God called him to lead Israel (Ex 3:1). The time he spent as a shepherd caused him to observe how people wander from righteousness into danger just as sheep wander from nourishing pastures into sin. So in Moses’s prayer for a new leader he said, “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community… so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd” (vv. 16, 17b). A good leader, a godly leader, knows that each of us has a heart that can wander; therefore, godly leaders show their care by giving oversight, guidance, and correction when people need it.
The problem is that people are not as easily led as sheep are. Someone told me that sheep bite; that may be true, but according to Jesus they hear the voice of the shepherd and follow him. People are not always so quick to listen and follow their leaders, even when leaders provide loving guidance and oversight.
If you are a leader, do you love and lead and watch over your people like a shepherd does his sheep? If you’re under a leader, do you listen to the voice of your shepherd and follow him? Good leadership is a gift from God. Be wise and follow the leaders God has given you.