Have you ever seen how, in the moment of adversity or difficulty, people quickly forget the blessing and provision of God and try to return to the familiar old life– the old way.
The way of sin and rebellion.
The place of oppression and bondage.
For those of us who’ve been in pastoral ministry for any length of time, this kind of rejection is all too familiar.
It reminds me of the story of Moses in Numbers 11. You’ll recall that Moses had been leading the people of Israel through the wilderness towards the promised land, pastoring arguably one of the largest single congregations in history, when, as in verse one of that chapter, the people began to complain because of adversity.
Moses became, what we Americans might call, a “drama king.”
“God, why have you placed the burden of these people on me? I’m not their daddy! They’re all upset with me, wanting me to give them meat to eat! Where am I going to get meat to feed all these people? If you’re going to treat me this way and make me deal with them like this, just go ahead and kill me now!”
Moses had been called, anointed, and God’s plan for his life was set in motion. He was directly in the center of where God had placed him and had set about to do the mission God had set before him– when stubborn, forgetful people began to complain about adversity.
We all know that frustration, don’t we? We all know the difficulty that comes, the frustration with people who want to turn back, even when we’re absolutely convinced that we’re doing what God told us to do. Some of us have even said, “Lord, if this is what you’ve called me to do, I don’t want any part of it.”
May I begin by observing God’s provision for Moses’ dilemma?
God did not remove Moses from the adverse circumstances– he was in the middle of God’s will, as a matter of fact. God’s provision for Moses was the Holy Spirit– when Moses reached the impasse of his own ability, God sent the Holy Spirit to accomplish what Moses could not do by his own strength.
God HAD called Moses to lead those people.
God DID instruct Moses to shepherd those people.
God WAS sending them through difficult circumstances to an inheritance.
Here’s a critical insight– God did send Moses into a situation from which he could not deliver himself. Moses needed to realize, yet again, that he could not accomplish all that God had called him to do by himself.
God’s provision for Moses’ inadequacy came in the form of Spirit-empowered leaders.
Notice that Moses complained of the burden of the people, and notice that God did not remove the burden– rather, He empowered capable, respected men to help shoulder that burden. Moses could not continue to lead those people on his own. It was not merely a spiritual impossibility, it had become a physical impossibility!
Can you imagine the drain 600,000 people can place on a single leader?
I’m convinced that God did not intend Moses to bear that burden alone– that it was NOT His design, but that Moses had to learn that lesson for himself. As I’ve grown in ministry experience, I’ve discovered the need to learn and apply that same lesson.
Your talent will only take you as far as your talent will take you.
I discovered a few years ago that God had indeed gifted me with certain abilities, certain natural strengths. I also realized that in wielding those gifts for Him, with a little education and with a little experience, I could get by with my responsibilities without really seeking God– without really spending the time in prayer necessary to unashamedly present His word or compassionately shepherd His people.
And I’m ashamed to admit there were seasons in my life where I was merely ‘getting by’ doing good things, making good noise, but not realizing the promises of God in each situation.
Like Moses, I reached the place one day when I realized the worthlessness of all I had been doing– messages and prayers, speaking engagements, and ministry opportunities that had all the right words but none of the power from having heard directly from God.
This truth resonated in my spirit that day. I had been operating on talent, on natural ability, and on the culmination of years of experience, and I had finally realized how far that would take me.
It would get me a few speaking engagements.
It would offer me a few ministry opportunities.
It would offer a modicum of job security.
But it would not bring me to the place God had promised.
My talent would only take me as far as MY TALENT could take me.
When Moses realized that truth, he turned to God in desperation– suicidal desperation, if we’re honest. He was coming apart at the seams and could not go any further. When he reached that desperate point, God responded by sending Spirit-empowered men to help him shoulder that burden.
So, how do we make the application of Moses’ epiphany in our own journey?
- Your TALENT is not enough to accomplish the purposes of God in your life, family, and ministry. Until you reach that desperate point, when you realize your absolute need of the Spirit to accomplish anything of eternal value, you’ll continue trucking along under your own steam– and only going where your STEAM can take you.Once the Holy Spirit reveals to you your utter dependence on Him, let that revelation drive you to your knees. Let His Spirit refresh and restore you. Position yourself to receive His Empowering Presence through prayer, fasting, and a renewed devotion to reading His Word.
Are you looking for new ideas, fresh material, or creativity? Give the Holy Spirit room to inspire you, to reveal His plans for your circumstances, and breathe in His new life. He is the Author of Creation.
- YOUR talent is not enough to accomplish the purposes of God in your life, family, and ministry. Just like Moses, as leaders and shepherds, we need Spirit-empowered men and women surrounding us, helping us to shoulder the burden of leading His people to their promise. If we continue trying to hold onto positions and keeping people under us, we cannot realize the greater promise that awaits us. Until you reach that desperate point, when you realize you don’t have the wisdom, skills, and stamina to accomplish God’s plan for your life, family, and ministry, you’ll continue trucking along under your own steam.
We are often tempted to disqualify other voices from speaking into our situations, simply because they do not match our context or condition, or because we don’t agree with them; but humility in ministry means defaulting to the position that I’m not the smartest or most-accomplished person in the room, and that I can learn from any moment or experience.
Once you understand your utter dependence on the leaders around you, reach out to them! Community doesn’t just happen; developing positive relationships with other leaders takes intentionality and sacrifice. Don’t allow yourself to wither, waiting for community to be poured into your lap. Position yourself to serve them, listen to them, learn from them, and be encouraged by them! YOUR talent can be multiplied in community.
Don’t let your talent get in the way of accomplishing God’s plan for your life. Seek out the power of the Spirit, and don’t hesitate to entrust the work of the Kingdom to Spirit-empowered men and women. Let them shoulder it with you.