“Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” But he said to them, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.”
Moses had a call from God upon his life, namely to lead the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, which was ruled by Pharaoh. Pharaoh's refusal and Moses' obedience brought much confusion and chaos. And yet God would work through it all to show His power and glory, as He used Moses to bring the people out from under Egyptian rule unto the promise land. Moses stayed the course in the face of many pressures to compromise what God called him to do.
He obviously did not have the support of Pharaoh, but there were times when he did not have the support and cooperation of his own people. Although he stayed the course, he did have moments when he felt exasperated, overwhelmed, and even wanted to quit. He doubted if he was fit for the job in the first place. When the people complained about food, we read, “Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15
It's important for Pastors to know that the demands of ministry and the expectations of others will always exceed our capacity. And like Moses, we will have moments where we will feel so inept that we want to give up and quit. Moses said, "I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me" (Num. 11:14). Moses felt that he couldn't handle it anymore. He was at the point of wanting God to take him out. This was partly due to not only feeling overwhelmed, but feeling that he was letting God down and his people. He was sick of seeing his own wretchedness (Num. 11:15).
When we feel weighed down by the pressures of life, work or ministry, we can end up making wrong decisions. We may feel like quitting or we may be tempted to compromise. While dealing with Pharaoh in Egypt, Moses was asked to compromise. At one point, Pharaoh tried to get Moses and the men to agree to leave Egypt without their families. He said, "Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking." (Exodus 10:11). Under pressure to get the job done, many men have neglected and even forsaken their families. We move forward thinking we are doing what God wants us to do, but in the process, we leave our families behind. And that is certainly something we can't afford to do.
In his book Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro wrote, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them—work, family, health, friends, and spirit—and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls—family, health, friends, and spirit—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same."
So how do we juggle it all? We need to first of all accept the fact that we may be juggling more than God intends. There's some balls that we may need to temporarily or even permanently drop to focus on certain priorities that we cannot afford to compromise. Some have called it, intentional neglect. I'm calling it, uncompromising neglect.
There are somethings that we can delegate, but there are others thing we must do ourselves. No one can rest for you. No one can exercise for you. No one can spend time at the feet of Jesus for you. And although a Pastor seems to always be in demand, there are others that can help. However, when it comes to the needs of the family, there's only one father and one husband.
What did Moses do when he felt like he was being crushed under the weight of it all? He cried out to God. He told God exactly how he felt. And God didn't fire him. Instead, God told him to gather seventy men to bear the burden of the people with him (Numbers 11:16). And that some of the anointing of the Spirit, the giftedness that he had, he was going to give to them. God said, “And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Numbers 11:17). In addition, God said, that he would provide more food for the people to eat (Numbers 11:19-20).
Interestingly, God didn't give more anointing to Moses so that he could work harder. He gave what Moses had, to others. As Pastors, we are not suppose to do ministry as if it all depends on us. We should be working ourselves out of a job, so to speak. We are suppose to be making disciples that make disciples and that know how to seek God's provision to feed themselves. Moses would eventually be succeeded by Joshua, who would be the one to lead the people into the promise land.
What makes us think even for a second that it all depends on us? Sometimes it's pride. We want to be in control. Sometimes it's the fear of man. It can also be that the pressures of ministry are leading us to feel like we're alone. Moses said to God, "I am not able to carry all this people alone" (Number 11:14). But he wasn't alone. God was with him and he also had others around him that could help him and be used by God.
When we think it all depends on us, we fail to develop leaders and give others the opportunity to experience God working in their lives. We begin to neglect things that we can't afford to neglect, like our health and our families. And we will eventually hit a wall and feel like we just can't do it anymore.
I found myself there. I hit that wall. I started to think that I'm not able to bear the responsibility of being a Pastor anymore. But, I cried out to God. And he has reminded me once again that I'm not alone. And that it doesn't depend on me. He called me and anointed me for the task that he assigned to me, namely to present others mature in Christ. And he has not only anointed me, but he has anointed others to bear the burdens with me.
God has shown me that it's okay to drop the ball sometimes, or to give it to someone else, especially when other things of greater priority are at stake. To finish the race strong, we will need to go in for pit stops to rest and refuel. Staying the course and finishing strong requires uncompromising neglect.