Being a leader is hard. Read Numbers 11.
First, people are hard to please. Look at what the people are saying in Numbers 11:4-6. It makes me laugh out loud every time I read about how God’s people grumbled and complained after God rescued them out of slavery in Egypt. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost us nothing…” HA! NOTHING?? They were slaves! Pharaoh had them whipped when they did not produce enough bricks for his massive building projects. Once, to get back at Moses (who was trying to win their freedom), Pharaoh actually required the Israelites to produce the same amount of bricks, but without supplying them the straw needed to produce the bricks. They had to get their own straw – and still produce the same amount of bricks. Do you remember that story from Exodus 5?
We have short memories. We live for our own pleasure. We are ruled by our cravings. (Numbers 11:4) As long as things are going well for us, we’re happy. The minute things stop going our way, we complain.
And we’re also ungrateful. Listen to the people of Israel, “But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:6) “This manna” was God’s provision to keep them from starving in the wilderness. But it wasn’t good enough for the people. They would actually prefer to be back in slavery in Egypt with bellies full of fish than to be free and satisfied with the food God provided.
When I read these verses it totally conjures up a lot of painful memories of my days as a church planter and pastor. 😉 You just can’t please people. Being a leader is hard.
But there is an opportunity in leadership too. People have serious needs. Look at them – all lined up outside the door of Moses’ tent. (Numbers 11:10) I can just hear all the frustrations and problems. Some are there because someone else has wounded them. Some are there because they are having a problem in their marriage. Some are there because they are having a problem with their kids. It’s like the waiting room at my counseling center! And, of course, some of them are there because they have a long list of all the things that Moses is doing wrong. All the issues of all the people is starting to weigh Moses down. (Numbers 11:11-15) The wise leader knows when he needs help. Moses asked God to send him helpers – and God complied. I love how God came to Moses’ rescue. Not only did He allow Moses to appoint seventy men to help him during this crisis (Numbers 11:16-17), but He also taught the people a lesson. You want meat? I will give you so much meat, it will make you sick!! (Numbers 11:18-35) Notice that God judges the people for their sin by giving them exactly what the asked for. Be careful what you ask for. It may not be God’s grace when He gives it to you. It may be His judgement. In fact, the place where all this happened was renamed Kibroth-Hataavah (graves of the craving), as a reminder that our cravings will kill us if we live only to satisfy them. (Numbers 11:34)
If God sees fit to put you in a position of helping people, ministering to their needs, or leading them, you will sometimes be very frustrated – and often very overwhelmed. But if you are being led by the Lord, if your hope is in Him and Him alone, and if you are not giving into your cravings, the Lord will have your back!