A well known proverb says, ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. What we are often not told is what happens between the second and the last step of that journey of a thousand miles. That is the great unknown, and we that played out in relation to Moses’ leadership of the Children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. His experience stands an example, metaphor or symbol for all leaders seeking to move from current state to a new place; either in terms of personal or organizational transformation.
As we read through the narrative, we see Moses facing challenges that come from two quarters.
First, he had to deal with challenges from within.
Secondly, he had to grapple with challenges from without. What is evident throughout is that his biggest challenge wasn’t external enemies, but rather the people he was leading, their mindset, attitude and reaction to the issues that confronted them on a daily basis, and even more concerning, their response to Moses’ leadership.
The challenges from within included the people’s reaction to the daily problems of life and trying to stay alive through the journey; matters to do with shelter, water, basic necessities; and how to relate and live together as a community, with a common vision and shared values.
A careful reflection of that period in the life of the children of Israel shows that it was not simply a story about a people coming out and making a journey from one place to another. Fundamentally, their story is about the building of a new kind of society, creating a different culture; moving from having a slave mentality, to developing the mindset, attitude and outlook of free people; from being a wandering, cattle-rearing community, to living as a settled, agrarian community. They had to move from being a people who were told what to do, to being a self determining nation. These were the big issues and challenges Moses had to deal with; involving a radical systemic, structural, societal transformation, based on a common set of beliefs and values that inform behaviour and ultimately shape the national psyche and culture.
Eternally there were of course the pressures and threats of other nations who perceived them as enemies and who themselves felt intimidated and threatened by this horde whose God had inflicted such devastation to the people and land of Egypt, and who were now marching through and claiming claim territory that was at that time occupied by other tribes and nations.
Moses had to navigate and negotiate his way through all the challenges that go with nation building. Against that background he had to deal with ambitious groups and individuals who considered themselves better leaders than him.
The bottom line is that to go from Egypt to the Promised Land involves having to deal with internal challenges as well as external threats. These come in different guises, forms, shapes and sizes. It is for every leader to carefully assess and apply the various gifts and skills, in order to deal with each situation as they arise.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2017©
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About the Author:
Emmanuel Mbakwe is a Pastor, an apostolic leader, business advisor, leadership coach, mentor, and published author. He is the immediate past General Overseer of the Apostolic Church UK. His vision and heart’s desire is to help people realise their God-given potential and fulfil the purpose of God for the life.