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(Part 21)


August 9, 2011
Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Moses was one of the greatest figures in salvation history. After serving the Lord so long, through intense hardships and stiff-necked opposition from God’s people, tasked with bringing them into the promised land, Moses was not allowed to cross the Jordan. This had been his driving vision, the fulfillment of God’s call, but at the end of his life, he would not enter into the promised land but would die in the desert.

Moses could have complained. After all, he had gone through so much for the Lord. He had been faithful and steadfast. More than anyone else, he deserved to be rewarded. But no. He humbly accepted what God had decided for him. He simply said, “the Lord has told me that I shall not cross this Jordan.” (Dt 31:2b).

Moses could have grumbled. He could have told his leaders how unfair God’s decision was. God’s people had been grumbling all the time in the desert, so why not him? But no.

Moses could have asked for reconsideration. He after all had successfully gotten God to change His mind before (see Ex 32:10-14). It would not have been a big deal for God to allow him to enter the promised land, especially if he recounted all he had done for Him. But no.

Moses could have sulked (“tampo”). It would have been natural for him to feel sorry for himself. After all, God seemed to be rejecting him. Sulking would probably have been therapeutic. He just needed time off by himself and nurse his sorrow. But no.

Moses could have quit (“lie low”). He could have reasoned out that he was no longer needed nor wanted. He could have spared himself the continuing heartbreak of seeing the excitement of the Israelites preparing to cross the Jordan. But no.

Moses could have lost his fiery zeal. His zeal for God and vision for God’s people in the promised land had provided him the adrenalin to persevere and endure through all of 40 years in the desert. Now the Israelites were at the edge of the promised land, and his work was done. Joshua was taking over. But no. He continued to exhort them strongly (Dt 31:6) and he strongly endorsed and exhorted his successor Joshua (Dt 31:7-8).

Moses was the servant leader par excellence. He is one perfect example of how to accept the trials and afflictions of leadership. His service was not about him, but all about God. He denied self, he took up his cross, and he simply followed God in every way.

How about us?

  • Do we complain when we are not recognized for the good that we do?
  • Do we grumble whenever we disagree on how things are done in community, and involve others in our grumbling?
  • Do we continue insisting on our point when the leaders over us decide to do things another way, rather than submitting?
  • Do we sulk when we are unappreciated for all the hard work we do, when we feel we are not treated in a good way by others?
  • Do we quit when we do not get our way?
  • Do we lose our zeal when we do not see the fulfillment of our goals?

We servant leaders are mere servants, who happen to be given leadership positions. But there is only one Master. Our lives are not our own. We exist simply to serve the Master. In doing so, we are not to look to our own preferences, desires, fulfillment, agenda or glorification.

Whatever disappointments we personally have (and yes, there will be such disappointments), servant leaders need to persist in looking to God, pointing to God, and continuing to serve the Master till the end. It is His work after all, which in His goodness He has merely shared with us.

As Moses in his valedictory said, “it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you” (Dt 31:6b). Moses had led the march out of Egypt and through 40 years in the desert. Now the Israelites were on the verge of crossing into the promised land, but Moses would not be with them. He must have been heart-broken but that was beside the point, and he just pointed them to the One who really mattered. “It is the Lord your God who will cross before you” (Dt 31:3a).

Let us look to Moses, this great servant leader, and serve our God with the same zeal and humility. And let us know that if we are faithful, God will allow us to enter into the ultimate promised land, heaven.

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