The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For
Moses at the Burning Bush1
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
The Divine Name Revealed
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection2
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
The Cross and Self-Denial3
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Many grade-school teachers claim that leadership begins blossoming at very young ages. Kindergarten classes, sometimes even Pre-schoolers begin to show some basic signs of taking charge and inspiring others. However, leadership is not genetic. Aspects of it may be biological, but there are too many exceptions, where nurture alters the course of nature.
Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is the number of times that leaders fail early on in their careers and lives. Hollywood is filled with child actors who did not make it through their teenage years. Boy Scouts and the military teach leadership, yet some of them end up in prison in their later adult years.
Those with a compulsion for leadership often feel irritable in times of training and following others. Their ambition pushes them to jump at the initiative, often before they have the skills and training they need to back up their natural gifts. They fret and fail, sometimes loudly, sometimes silently, and many will never get back up once they have fallen down. They see the failure as a denial of their gifts.
The best leaders are not those who never make mistakes. They are those who persevere and learn from them. Usually the first two lessons they learn are patience and the importance of learning. (I’m probably preaching to myself a little bit here.) Mastering those two things opens doors to many other opportunities down the road.
For every leader though, there comes a moment that requires action and initiative. Something that grabs our attention and calls us to action. The whole thing works best when we are responding to an external presence rather than reacting to our own internal compulsions and insecurities. Moses had a burning bush that put him back to work after his failing, and subsequent lessons in patience and opportunities to learn how to live and lead flocks of sheep in the wilderness of Sinai.
Jesus took up his call initially by being born into the world, and then again following His baptism. His call to leadership was more than just an invitation to death on the cross. It was a call to bring others with Him. He may have died alone on that first cross, but he would soon be joined by most of those who followed Him. As Bonhoeffer writes, the call to follow Christ is the call to come and die. That is not far from the call of leadership.
What kind of burning bush moments have you experienced?
What sacrifices are God calling you to make?
What sacrifices are you calling others to make with your leadership?
How do you honor those sacrifices?