Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carson, Moses and Jane

One of my projects this week has been getting the newsletter ready for printing. This involves asking people to write down the thoughts that are in their head. And then editing whatever is written so that it fits our 4 page template. Shannon then formats it all.

The whole process is fun. And likely is as close as I'll ever get to the publishing world.

The last article that was submitted was my boss's devotional, intended to be placed on the back page. He had shared this Moses story with us earlier in the week during a staff meeting, and with his permission, I'm posting it here too. Because I want to.

I work at Arrow Leadership International Ministries where we are in the business of developing Christian leaders who are led more by Jesus, lead more like Jesus, and lead more to Jesus. I mostly do the stuff that does not require me to be onsite during our seminar training weeks, so it's rare that I have access to any of the teaching. Besides. I'm not a pastor.

However, while Carson was sharing his thoughts on Exodus 3, I identified with Moses in my role as the leader in my home.
Same thing....

"I think that all leaders should have a sense of feeling overwhelmed when they are undertaking a God-sized vision. If a leader doesn’t feel at least initially that they are in over their heads –then there is no real sense of challenge, stretch or shove that comes from the vision. The strength and power of a great vision means that it will cause resistance both internally and externally.

When a leader is undertaking a great vision they face the challenge of realizing that their own resources are inadequate. The good thing about this is that it drives us to our knees."

My God-sized vision? Raising three boys to be God-fearing, Christ-loving, loyal, kindhearted, hard-working, love-filled men.

My response? Scared silly. Everyday I come up short of having the skills I need to do this job adequately.

"There's a great story told in scripture of a leader who is faced with a huge mission. It is the story of Moses found in Exodus Chapter 3. God had asked Moses to lead his people out of Egypt. This was not a small task! One that can actually bring about his death.

What does Moses do? He responds with three questions and one strong objection.

The first question that Moses struggled with was that of his own identity. We find this to be a common question still among emerging leaders that we work with. It is asking the question “Who am I?”

Now think about this for a moment. This is the same Moses who was raised in the court of the Pharaoh and had shown great leadership as a younger man. Now we find him feeling totally inadequate for the task even though it is God who is asking him directly to undertake this.

God reminds Moses that it is not about who we are, but rather who God is it that makes the difference."

Oh my goodness. I needed to be reminded of this.

Who am I? How could God think I would be able to do this job? I don't have the tools. I'm not equipped. I am a grown-up girl. What do I know about boys? I am a mom who is clueless. But this thing that I've been called to do, is not about ME. It's not about who I am. It's about who God is. And what He can do through me.

"The second question was a more pragmatic one. Moses wondered what he was going to tell the people that he was supposed to lead. It is actually another question of Moses dealing with his internal sense of adequacy. He felt like he needed a higher authority than himself to persuade Pharaoh in order to accomplish the task.

God responded with exactly what Moses needed. He told him to let the people know that “I am” had sent him."

Ahhh. This affirms my use of the phrase, "Because God chose me to be your mom, and this is the way He wants us to do things" whenever the kids say, "Why can't you be more like so and so's mom?" And it also ties in with my other common response regarding the stupid things they want me to change my mind on... "One day I am going to have to stand in front of God and be answerable to Him regarding my parenting. Trust me on this ... He would agree with me that this is not a good idea." (Whatever that hairbrained idea might be. )

His third question was: what if they don’t believe me?
Again, many young leaders today struggle with the same type of question. They have doubts about how people are going to respond when they present a grand vision. What it takes to overcome this is providing the evidence and the rationale to help them address their doubts.

In Moses’ story, God provided validation through a series of miracles that convinced even the most skeptic people. "

I guess this is where I am struggling. I run out of confidence whenever I try to present a new way of doing things... like, say, not gulping down food in 10 seconds at meal time. Or when I reveal a grand plan for our family - like say, a family vacation to Montreal. I struggle with 'my people's' negative responses. I need God to validate my leadership with a series of miracles ...

Errrhm, maybe He has already been throwing miracle after miracle at us, and we've missed them being all self-absorbed?
He probably has.
He's probably tired of doing great and spectacular things to an audience that keeps missing the ah ha moment.

Nah. He's not tired. He's God. He can't get tired of doing things.
Dear God, You are validating my role in my kids' life aren't you? You are probably doing the odd miracle here and there, and we're just missing it, aren't we? Please open our eyes to see and our hearts to hear all that you have for us. Thank you for parenting my kids through me. Amen.

Moses’ last response was actually an objection. He felt he wasn’t qualified because he wasn’t a very good public speaker. Many of the Arrow leaders we work with come to us with some sense of not being adequate because they lack in a particular skill.

Moses was actually a very persuasive person – so we know that he could speak. However, for so many years he had not use these skills and he thought he had lost them. God responded to him simply by asking him to trust and that He would find a way by promising words and giving them to Aaron to help out.

How many times have I said, "I am not qualified for this business of raising three alien boys."? I feel I am lacking in that certain skill necessary to get them (us?) through these challenging years. What skill is that?
Well the one that other parents have. The one that keeps their kids from rebelling.
Or doing stupid, dangerous things.
The skill that encourages their kids to excel at whatever they do best.
The skill that allows their homes to be filled with laughter and joy and respect and love even if hard times visit.
That skill that diffuses volatile situations before they get out of hand.
The skill that instinctively knows what boys like to do.
The skill of negotiating.
The skill of persuasiveness.
The skill of discipline.
The skill of being able to cook healthy meals every single day regardless of how the chef is feeling that afternoon.
The skill of unconditional enthusiasm.
The skill of not caring about little things like those bags of grass clippings that were supposed to go to the curb last week and now smell like death.
The skill of being able to talk about Really Important Things without getting all emotional.
The skill of being able to hang out in the garage and give the truck an oil change while talking about exhaust systems and fluid levels to sons who are spellbound by my vast knowledge.

God sent Aaron to give Moses a hand.

And He has given me a couple helpmates too.
"Thank you God for all the people that have been a part of our lives. Thank you for youth workers, uncles, friends. I recognize them as gifts from You, thank you."

Lastly, the devotional ends encouraging us to follow the wisdom of how Moses lead before us:

Assess the situation carefully
Take our fears to God
Listen for his response


Because most of you aren't on Arrow's mailing list, you probably wouldn't have ever read that devotional, and I thought it was a good one. If it applies to me in my tiny little leadership role of parenting The 3 Stooges, it might apply in your live as well...

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. My job
2. Bible stories
3. Wise guys who share their thoughts.


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