What pastors can learn from Moses

Chaplain Moses is a book written by Kenneth Cook, a retired Army chaplain.  He sees lessons for chaplains in the biblical account of Moses.  I would personally not be surprised if a hundred other professions have found parallels with this great champion of God and produced similar books.

Pastors perhaps more than anyone else can find parallels from the life and times of Moses.   Since four of the first five books of the Old Testament, called the Torah or Pentateuch, give us story after story involving this man, enterprising ministers and students will have no trouble unearthing a hundred or more lessons for their guidance.

Some of the more obvious lessons–that have furnished material for ten thousand sermons and almost that many books–include delegating work so you don’t try to do it all yourself, organizational guidance, prayer lessons, working with carnal, bull-headed associates, and such.

Here are a few of mine that seem to fit pastors so perfectly…

One.  Let the pastor make sure of his call. That’s Exodus chapter 3. Until that is settled, you ain’t going nowhere.

Two. Until God says otherwise, the pastor is stuck with these people, no matter how much they try his soul and get on his nerves. Reading Moses’ story, primarily in Exodus and Numbers, one is struck by how the Israelis drove him batty.  And yet, Moses kept at it.  He was an amazing role model, to be sure.

I’ve known of pastors belly-aching to God about the people, wondering “how much more can I take?” and “Lord, the church over at Bigtown has come open and they pay a decent salary” or maybe “Lord, the unemployment rate in this dying town means we cannot pay salaries to stay competitive with bigger churches.”  And in case after case, the Lord says, “Stay where you are. I’ll let you know when it’s time to move.”

Three. The man of God must have a genuine prayer life in which he is able to confront the Lord who called him, unburden himself before the Lord who sent him, and receive instructions from Him who guides him–otherwise, he’s not going to make it.

We all love how straight Moses talked to God.  At one point Moses said, “Lord, if I’ve found favor with you, then kill me! Please? I can’t take anymore!”   That’s my version of Numbers 11:15, a request some of us have come close to praying once or twice!

Four. God is going to have to be the One who deals with the troublemakers in the congregation.  And He will.  I think of the rabble’s griping of Numbers 11, Miriam and Aaron’s foolishness in Numbers 12, Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16, and the bronze serpent of Numbers 21.  Let the pastor wait upon the Lord to handle them.

I know, I know.  He doesn’t move fast enough sometimes.  But learn to wait upon the Lord, friend. It’s always best.

Five. When God sentenced the Israelis to forty years in the wilderness until that generation had died, Moses was sentenced along with them.   Moses had not been perfect, but he had done an amazing job. Even so, this was his assignment. Stay with these rebellious, headstrong, difficult people.

I’m thinking of the pastor who perseveres with a congregation of difficult people, giving his all to a people who wish he were dead, and no pastor search committee ever showing up.  “If he were so good, why is his church not growing?”  (Pastor search committees can be so obtuse!)

Six. Like Moses, the man of God has no message of his own.  His job is to declare God’s word.  As Paul said, “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and  ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Seven. Moses had to wait for Heaven to see the full fruit of his labors.  And so must we.  A thousand chores the pastor does are all by faith, meaning they are done in obedience to God’s Word although he may not understand the purpose, he may not see the outcome, and in some cases, humanly speaking, he may not survive the experience.  And yet, God is sovereign.  He knows. He is in charge.

Jesus is Lord.

And so we trust Him and go forward in obedience.

And like Moses, after all our labors, someone else may come along behind us and reap all the rewards, get all the acclaim, and enjoy all the benefits.  Joshua was that man for Moses.

When you get to Heaven, tired brother, you will want to schedule a visit with Moses.  I know, I know–get in line, right?  But for the embattled pastor who has put up with years of opposition and misunderstandings and attacks, I can hear Moses saying, “I understand, friend.  Let me tell you about the time….”

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