One of the disciplines that I’ve been trying to be more consistent with has been the discipline of journaling combined with praying the scriptures. At Hillside Southern Baptist this past Sunday, the sermon covered Exodus 33: 12-22, which deals with God’s presence. While we don’t find ourselves in the same position as the individuals in that story, we can look at how God dealt with them and how they responded to Him.
As the pastor was preaching, I followed along and noticed a salient feature in the passage - Moses has no trouble pointing out to the Lord the impossibility of the task given to him. For instance, in verse 12 in the NKJV, we see the word ‘see.’ In the Hebrew, this is in the imperative form with a particle of entreaty. Moses is asking God to see the impossibility of attempting the task he has been given without God’s presence being there. Moses uses the phrase, “If I have found grace in your sight,” which in the Hebrew is really, “If I have found grace in your eyes.” I believe Moses has ample reasons for trusting that he’s found grace in God’s sight, but he’s still asking his request to be granted based on the grace he has before God.
Moses gives one of the specific reasons for his request in the second half of verse 13. When he says, “That I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight,” he uses the Hebrew word לְמַ֥עַן, which has the idea of ‘for the sake of’ or ‘in order that.’ The rest of the verse says, “And consider that this nation is Your people.” Moses requests God’s presence go with them in order that he may know God better and because the nation is God’s people. Moses ties in his desire to know God with his desire that God be made known in verse 16 when he states, “For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
Let’s put this into perspective in terms of Christian leadership - are we really leading like Moses, in a way that touches lives to make Christ known? Or are we seeking only to succeed by some external measurement placed upon us by taskmasters that we answer to (be they internal or external)? Any missionary, church planter, or pastor should not measure his ministry against the number of people saved or even the number of churches planted, but rather by the lives touched and by whether God has been made known. A church leader leads not by getting his parishioners to do stuff but by encouraging them to do the stuff God has given them to do, while making Him known and encouraging them in the doing. If the church leader can say that he is furthering the callings, ministries, and gifts of those who have been entrusted to him and equipping them to use their God-given resources, then he can say that he is doing his ministry.
Perhaps if we could tone down the voices of those internal and external taskmasters and know that God indeed is being made known to others and known to us, and that He indeed knows what He wants to accomplish, we may find peace in the task.