January 22, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Exodus 4:10-16
But Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and will teach you what you shall do. He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him.”
No matter what you’re facing today, no matter how overwhelming it might feel, no matter how limited you might feel, there is good news. First, God is with you to help you. Second, God is gracious and patient with you. Third, in the right time and right way, God will bring people into your life as partners and supporters. No matter what God is calling you to today, you don’t have to do it alone because God and God’s people are with you.
Today’s devotion is part of the Life for Leaders series: Can’t Do It Alone.
In last Thursday’s devotion, I began reflecting on part of the conversation between God and Moses at the burning bush. As you may recall, even though God promises to be with Moses when he goes to Egypt to speak to Pharoah, Moses resists, aware of his inadequacies as a speaker. When God promises to be with Moses’s mouth, Moses still hesitates, asking the Lord to send someone else. Though God is angry with Moses, God nevertheless offers to team Moses up with his brother Aaron, who is a strong speaker.
My first point about this passage was that Moses, though no paragon of faith in this instance, nevertheless showed humble self-awareness when it came to his personal capabilities. This awareness helped him to be open to God’s offering of a partner for the work. Those of us who have a tendency to do it alone often overestimate our abilities. The more we can be like Moses and recognize our own limitations, the more we will be ready to work collaboratively, to not “do it alone.”
My second point concerning this episode from Exodus has to do with the amazing grace and patience of God. When Moses tried to get out of the job to which God was calling him, God could well have taken it personally. After all, Moses was saying in effect that God’s presence and power were not enough for him. We’re told that God was in fact angry with Moses. But God did not rebuke or reject him. Rather, God graciously supplied human partnership for Moses, addressing his verbal shortcomings with the promise of collaboration from Moses’s articulate brother Aaron.
How many times in life God has done a similar thing for me . . . and for you too, I expect! When we recognize our limitations, when we feel overwhelmed, when we are fearful and hesitant to follow God’s call, when even God’s presence doesn’t feel like enough for us, God hangs in there with us. God gives us observable evidence that God is with us by doing things like providing human partners to help us.
Let me offer an example from my work at the De Pree Center. About five years ago, when I was serving in the role of Executive Director, a foundation expressed interest in the possibility of supporting the work of the center. This foundation had a particular focus on entrepreneurship and was interested in the possibility of our doing something related to the intersection of entrepreneurship and faith. I was quite excited by this possibility, but the subject matter wasn’t an area of expertise for me. I wondered how I might proceed.
A colleague of mine at the De Pree Center, Scott Cormode, had just connected me with one of his top PhD students. Michaela O’Donnell was just finishing her dissertation focused on the relationship of faith to entrepreneurship. Plus, Michaela was an experienced entrepreneur, having built a fine business with her husband. I reached out to Michaela to see if she would be interested in working with me on a grant proposal. She was interested, thanks be to God, and soon crafted a compelling proposal for the foundation. They were impressed with the proposal and with Michaela, and decided to support the De Pree Center generously.
Of course, I was glad for the financial investment of this foundation and what it would mean for the work of the center. But I was also both grateful for and astounded by the grace of God. At the exact time when I needed a partner who had expertise in entrepreneurship and faith, God brought someone with extraordinary strengths in this area. Because of our new grant, I was able to hire Michaela as the Senior Director of the center. She became an invaluable partner to me and a co-leader of our shared work. Her contribution and the timing of it was for me a strong affirmation of God’s presence and power. (As you may know, a couple of years ago I stepped down as the Executive Director of the De Pree Center so Michaela could take on that role. I continue to have the privilege of working with her, though our relationship is somewhat different. She is now my boss and I am glad to support her leadership. She enables me to focus on projects that are central to my current calling: writing Life for Leaders devotions and leading the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative.)
I realize that God’s ways are often mysterious and that sometimes God doesn’t supply what we think we need at the time in which we think we need it. Nevertheless, I do believe that no matter what you’re facing today, no matter how overwhelming it might feel, no matter how limited you might see yourself, there is good news. First, God is with you to help you. Second, God is gracious and patient with you. Third, in the right time and right way, God will bring people into your life as partners and supporters. Perhaps they’re already there and you’re having a hard time recognizing them. But, no matter what God is calling you to today, you don’t have to do it alone because God and God’s people will be with you.
Can you think of a time in your life when the help you needed from someone showed up in an expected if not miraculous way?
Who are your best and most trusted partners in your life and leadership?
Are there places in your life when you could really use some collaborative help? If so, have you talked with the Lord about these?
Think of someone whose collaboration means a lot to you. Tell that person about it and share your gratitude for them.
Gracious God, with an emphasis on gracious. Today’s story of Moses reminds of how gracious you are to everyone . . . and to me, in particular. Thank you, Lord, for all the times you have treated me graciously, even when I have been resistant to your call or outright disobedient.
Today I thank you for those who have been my partners in life. I am so grateful for them, for the joy of working and sharing life with them. I’m grateful for their talents and encouragement. Thank you for bringing into my life people whose strengths complement my own, making up for my weaknesses. Thank you for bringing the right people into my life even when I doubt you.
Thank you, Lord, for your amazing grace! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The God Who Puts Up With Us.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.