Leading Can Hurt (Exodus 5:19-23)

Exodus 5:19-23 (ESV)

19 The foremen of the people of Israel saw that they were in trouble when they said, “You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks, your daily task each day.” 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”


                Book after book and blog post after blog post has been and is being composed regarding leadership in the church. But sometimes we fail to see just how difficult leadership under the rule of God can be. It is not easy. It is not always pleasant. Sometimes is hurts.


                Moses followed God’s instructions in Exodus 5. He went in to meet with Pharaoh and asked him to let God’s people go. He did what he was told, and the results were not good. Pharaoh responded with commands to make the burden of the people of Israel much greater than before.


                Then the people Moses was sent to rescue responded, and their response was harsh. They were understandably angry with Moses. He had made their work difficult. He had made their mistreatment by the Egyptians harsh. Because of Moses’ words, the people were being punished and forced to struggle just to get by.


                Please never fool yourself about Christian leadership whether you are a pastor, a small group leader, or anything else. God does not promise us that leadership will be easy. Nor does he promise us instant success. He does not promise us that those whom we lead will appreciate our leadership.


                Just consider the world we live in. It seems that, from day to day, it is more difficult to live out biblical Christianity in the world. Christians are being tested and ostracized for our beliefs. We are being told that we cannot be acceptable citizens of society if we hold to a biblical view of gender, marriage, and sex. We are told we are fools if we do not accept the scientific establishment’s explanations for creation and human existence. It seems that the rights of every people group in our nation is being protected except for the rights of those who want to follow the word of God.


                So, in a very real sense, there is a burden before those in the church who would lead. We are forced by the word of God to lead people into potentially painful circumstances. As we call people to biblical fidelity, they are going to walk into difficult social circumstances. Some people will lose their jobs. Some will experience opportunities slip away. Some will experience family members who turn their backs on the believers because of the believers refusal to not only allow but approve of certain decisions.


                But, as we walk into difficult times, let us remember that, while God did not promise us ease or even success in the here and now, God did promise us a reward of glory and joy for being faithful to his name. God is always faithful to his children. To all who honor him and follow his ways, he will give blessing. The blessing of God may be a glimpse of his glory that is only perceivable to the believer himself, but that is OK. We were created by God for God’s glory. When we experience God’s glory, we experience the ultimate of joy and comfort. And as God shows us who he is and allows us to praise his glory, we will find that the hardships we walk through in obedience to his name are worth it.



                In Moses’ circumstances, God used him to lead the people out of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea, saw the army of Pharaoh drowned, and experienced the glory of God on the mountain. And, though I am certain that Moses never looked back on that moment when he was rejected by the Israelite leadership with any fondness, I would guess that Moses believed that the pain was worth it to be faithful to the Lord and to experience the true reward of being overwhelmed by the majesty of our God.