by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference
Leadership, throughout history, has called for men and women with characters of iron. Commonly, leaders become the targets of preconceived ideas, prejudice, evil surmising, projection, fears and envy. The Word is filled with stories of leaders who were misjudged, slandered, unjustly mistreated, envied and viciously attacked. Moses is a great example of a leader who lived his life under constant attack. His own people frequently misjudged him. Even his own blood-related siblings turned on him and challenged the legitimacy and authority of the leadership role he tried to dodge.
Why are leaders so often the focus of unremitting criticism? Well, imbedded into the position of leadership are influence, position and prestige. Add to the list vision-casting power, decision-making power, and character and lifestyle expectations. Have you noticed our tendency to demonstrate tolerance, leniency, patience and grace with non-leaders? Sadly, when one is assigned a leadership position, the degree of grace, patience and tolerance drastically declines. You are called to a higher standard, to moral choices that rise above the masses. Christian leaders are not only expected to be exemplary role models; they are too often expected to be perfect.
The perpetual expectation of perfection is emotionally-spiritually debilitating and can drain the leader’s morale. When people complained to Moses about the lack of variety in their desert menu, they were unashamed in boldly expressing how uninteresting and insipid the heavenly manna seemed to them after having dined on Egypt’s “fish, the cucumbers, the melons, leeks, the onions and garlic” (Numbers 11:5). They went as far as to express that they felt “dried up”. The Message version gives an interesting rendering of this passage: “The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, ‘Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free! —to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.’” (Num. 11:4-6; The Message)
Moses felt so disappointed with their negative mindsets and ungrateful spirits that he “Said to the Lord, ‘Why have you afflicted your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight that you have laid the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them that you should say to me, ‘carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’ . . . I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If you treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness.” (Num. 11:11-15, emphasis supplied). Can you detect Moses’ desperation? Can you hear his anguish, helplessness and hopelessness? His emotional state is in such a disarray that he is feeling wretched, worthless and grimly inadequate. Does any of this sound familiar?
Often, many leaders don’t even Continue reading