Carrying the Burden

Being a leader is a huge responsibility. There are good days and bad days. Days of great reward and days of great struggle. When the organization succeeds, we celebrate. When it fails, we feel the weight of the responsibility. In the times of struggle it is easy to feel like we alone bear the burden. In Numbers 11, that is how Moses was feeling. Let me set the stage for you.

God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he provided leaders for them, he provided food for them, and he even instructed them to build a structure – the tabernacle – that would make a way for him to dwell among his people. God was abundant in his goodness towards the Israelites; yet, despite that, they were professionals when it came to being an ungrateful and complaining people. They began to grow tired of the food that God was providing for them and they remembered what food they had available to them while in Egypt. They said…

We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

Okay, so, the food in Egypt was available at no cost….mmm…they might not have had to pay for it, they just had to be slaves. And if the Pharaoh decided he wanted to kill all new born Israelite males then he could do that. So, none of that sounds like a good set up.

Quick side thought, do you ever find that you complain about God’s abundant goodness and blessing in your life? 

Nonetheless, the Israelites complained. It was in this moment that Moses, more than ever, felt burdened to be able to step up and lead the people God called him to lead. But there was a problem. Moses felt like his knees were buckling under the weight of leading these immature infants on his own. He turned to God and asked…

“Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Moses was at the end of his ropes and he let God know it. So, the Lord responds to Moses by saying…

“Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

One of the most beautifully amazing things about God is that he hears us and he cares for us. He does not want to set us up for failure. If we need help he is all to willing to reach out and lend a hand. So, when Moses was in need and overwhelmed he cried out to God and God answered by providing Moses with other people that would share in the burden of the people so that he would not have to carry it alone.

In your own life, if you ever come to a point where you feel like you are under too much pressure, have too much responsibility, or feel like you are a one man football team then know this: God. Provides. When Moses felt overwhelmed by having to lead the Israelites he turned to God and said, “I can’t do this on my own.” We can do the same. We can turn to God and say, “Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I need help.” And he will help. One of the most powerful ways that God helps us is by calling other people to be there for us. Think about how God freed the Israelites from slavery. He called Moses. When Moses was overwhelmed he called seventy other people to help carry the weight.

So, today, consider this. If you need help maybe God has placed someone in your life that is there to share in carrying the weight of the burden with you, or maybe God is calling you to help carry someone else’s burdens.


Leadership and Calling… Part 2

In short, the first part was about my current struggle with knowing what exactly is my “calling.” I have been praying that God would give me wisdom and that he would help me understand what he might be calling me to do. What I am coming to understand is that the underlying and root factor of my uncertainty is insecurity. I look at the congregation during worship on Sunday and see people who are disengaged. I ask myself “What am I doing wrong?” I compare my skills in songwriting, voice, musical talent, and leadership abilities against others who are far more developed than mine and become discouraged. Through this I have learned that in order to fulfill God’s calling on my life I need to have clarity of vision – I need to know what God is calling me to – and I need to be confident about it trusting that God will equip me for the calling. Without clarity and without confidence, when circumstances that are everything but perfect it is so easy for me to question whether or not I am in the right place and doing the right things.

Insecurity is something I have always struggled, but I never realized how much it would hinder my ability to lead and be who God has called me to be. After spending some time in prayer. I “stumbled” across an article entitled “The Art of Leadership is Not Without Struggle” by Lolly Daskal. In it she gives a break down of the life events of someone we know as one the most influential leaders in American history. Failure after failure, rejection after rejection, and loss after loss Abraham Lincoln was persistent and never gave up. Finally, at the age of 51, he became the President of the United States. Daskal says “Life has a way of throwing us into situations that test us, evaluate us, and assess us. Leaders who do not waver in times of struggle, those are the leaders who are truly exceptional.” Lincoln faced much struggle. Yet, even in the midst of less than perfect circumstances he persisted and is now a figure that is regularly studied in American history.

God is teaching me that leadership has amazing rewards but it also brings significant struggle. Ultimately, it is how we handle the struggle that will determine what kind of leader we are. He is also teaching me that insecurities are a detriment in the life of a leader. They will not only hinder leadership but will devour from the inside out. Quick side note… I just got an image of gigantic termites wrecking shop haha 🙂 Confidence is a key component in a leader. In order to fulfill what God has called me to do I need confidence. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The confidence I am speaking of is a confidence in knowing what God is called me to do and walking in that calling even when it feels more like hiking a mountain than a smooth road. I am speaking of having confidence in God to equip me for the work he has called me to. I am speaking of having confidence in God to see me through my many failures.

If you get a chance, I would encourage you to read “The Art of Leadership is Not Without Struggle.” It is a short and easy read. The link is below.

Leadership and Calling… Part 1

THE STRUGGLE (Well…my struggle)

Lately I have been struggling with what exactly God is calling me to do. I know that I am called to make a difference in peoples’ lives – to pray for them, be there for them, lead where I can, and teach where I can. A few years ago, I felt God calling me to ministry, specifically, music ministry. So, I began praying. God answered. Over and over in different ways God confirmed his calling on my life to do ministry. So, I began praying about how I might begin preparing. I transferred schools. I changed my major. I changed my entire focus. I have learned a lot and experienced a lot.

I love what I do. I get to lead people singing every single Sunday. Why is that a big deal to me? Picture this. You watch your favorite sports team get hammered by the opposing team, but then something in the game changes. Your team makes a pivotal play. The energy begins to shift. Play after play your team begins to gain ground – making a comeback. It comes down to the last minutes of the game. Your team is losing. On defense. Your team intercepts the ball, runs it down the field, and scores. The band plays the fight song as loud as they have ever played it. Your team wins! In celebration you jump up, raise your hands, and joyfully shout.

Scripture suggests that it is totally normal to worship God in much the same way.

Psalm 98:4 says,

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;

BUT….let’s be honest. Most of the time it seems like people seldom ever get excited about singing praises to God. I look out at the congregation hoping to see smiles, people singing, hands raised, maybe even some swaying back and forth. But mostly what I see is people with blank looks on their faces, not singing, and are ready to “get on with it.”

I pray. I prepare and plan. I schedule the musicians. I rehearse the songs. I work on smooth transitions so that the songs feel like one unit rather than a series of awkward intersections with unseen stop signs. I consider where and if a “pastoral moment” might fit in somewhere. I think through places I can pray and what I might pray so as to make connections for the congregation in regards to theme. Then, Sunday happens. I look out at the congregation while I lead them in singing and I become discouraged. Self-doubt creeps in. I begin to wonder, “What am I doing wrong?” Is all the “work” I do worth it?

I write music. from a young age I have had a strange attachment to putting words together in a poetic form. My desire is to write music that glorifies God and would encourage the church to sing praises to God. I write music in hopes that it would cause change in someone’s life to begin loving their spouse more and even more importantly, loving God more. I write music in hopes that it would create an avenue for someone to express their prayers and praises to God in ways that they feel but might not know how to express.

BUT….let’s be honest. Every time I turn around there is another worship song written by people with much more influence thus, making a much bigger impact than I could ever hope to make. Again, I begin to wonder, “Is it worth it?” I spend a significant amount of time writing songs – lyrics, music, arranging, and recording. Is it time well spent? Or should I begin pursuing other things.

These are hard questions for me because these are the things that I love to do. So, I began praying and I am continuing to pray. That God would give me wisdom and discernment. That he would give me clear vision of what to do moving forward. That if I am not called to write songs that he would reveal that to me. And That he would once again confirm my calling.