I feel like God has me reading the books of history in the OT and I kind of wonder why. I mean the books of Samuel and Kings and Chronicles can be pretty interesting with lots of drama...and violence...but now Numbers? I am not even sure Moses would want to read Numbers. So I am working my way through...skipping much names and lists...who did what ...this many cows sacrificed for who...that kind of stuff. (I am sure one day I will get why they are there) But then I began to see some things that were kind of subtle but, I believe, important...especially to leaders.
Last week I wrote about a Bishop and this odd ceremony held to promote him and it was very strange for me to watch. Then I read this in Numbers concerning Moses...you know the guy who is leading a whole nation out of captivity...the one who God says, “ I talk with him face to face.” Yeah, THAT Moses. 12:3 (“Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble that anyone on the face of the earth.”) It was written with parenthesis around it like it was added but someone else. Look at what it said...very humble...more humble that anyone else on earth...this leader...called by God...humble. I watched the video of this guy being toted around on a throne type of chair...and I have to confess...the word humble never entered my thoughts...never. Other thoughts did but I will not share those...but Moses...he was humble.
You might think, “Of course he was humble...that was a huge job leading all of those people. And then talking to God face to face...humbling.” I find we tend to go two directions during times like that...yes, we can be humbled...but we can also begin to see ourselves as being someone special...you know God’s chosen. Pretty heady stuff...that could call for a parade...maybe a real title with some pizzazz to it. Moses stayed humble.
As I read further I began to see something that I had not noticed before, well it is not like I read the book of Numbers a lot. I began to see Moses do something and sometimes Aaron with him, in front of the people, that might be one of the greatest leadership techniques I have ever run across. I don’t think you will see it many books on leadership...but you will read it in my blog...cool. Oh, wait that sounded very un-humble on my part...sorry...got carried away. The first time I see it is where the people are rejecting going into the promise land because the people there are too stinking big. They begin to cry to go back to Egypt...to reject God. The scripture says this, “Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.” THEY DID WHAT??? Leaders don’t do that do they? Shouldn’t they have waded into the crowd and began slapping people around...shouting about what the vision is...jumping on a camel shouting for the people to follow them...yahoo...let’s go take the land! They fell on their faces right in front of the people...how weak...how...humble? Well, OK this one time of weakness...it will be OK. Sooo later in chapter 18 some guy named Korah is stirring up trouble...challenging Moses leadership...probably did not like a leader who falls down a lot. Korah asks, “Why, then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly? When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.” Come on Moses...stand up to him...put your finger in his face and let him know who is boss here! YOU ARE GOD’S ANOINTED GUY! Don’t we want leaders who will lead...lead with strength...even forcefully lead? Moses falls facedown...then he stands and says, “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to Him and who is holy, and He will have that man come near Him.” Wow! I think when Moses was facedown He and God were talking...and God whispers, “I got this Moses.” (Bill’s paraphrase)
I am beginning to think Moses is giving us some leadership tips here...maybe...verse 22 of chapter 16 gives a little insight on what happened when they were facedown, “But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, 'O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?” You really should look into this story is you like extreme action...the earth opens up and...well I don’t want to give it all away. Moses is being challenged...his leadership is being questioned...and he prays for the people...face down. Just so you know he does it again in verse 45...”And they fell facedown.”
So why does this get my attention? What is so impressive about all of this falling facedown...in front of the people? I guess I see a couple of things...one is Moses is definitely humble...he knows he cannot do what God is asking and he keeps going right to Him for strength and wisdom. Then he is doing something that is subtle but so important for a leader...he is modeling for the people what a humble and holy life would look like. He is not afraid to fall on his face in front of the people...and I suspect he did it behind the scenes also. He is saying, without using words, humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. That being strong in the Lord means being weak in yourself...to lead he had to follow. I read lots of leadership books geared towards Pastors...never saw this in any of them...if you keep reading you will find another leader picks up where Moses left off. Joshua...go ahead and look in tot he book of Joshua...yup...he falls down...face first. Hmmm wonder where he picked that up?
So I really, really like Moses...a real stand up guy...Oh wait...a real facedown guy. A leader.