Flying into Tel Aviv for the first time is an exciting experience. For a less than a seasoned traveler, the glide on the flight path is one of awe and wonder. I am never disappointed at how different a destination looks when I see it for the first time. Not looking like I had imagined it, Tel Aviv is a very clean and neat place compared to many. Boundaries are well marked and delineated. The biggest surprise for me was all the seemingly endless agriculture within the city limits. Each city block had large gardens and greenhouses in the back yards of many homes and businesses. It did not take long to realize how this would influence how we would eat for the next ten days. Only the freshest produce was offered and prepared in the healthiest way. If there is one thing I can say about food in Israel, “It is very consistent.” From one establishment to the next, food always was prepared the same way: Falafel, Hummus, Shwarma, Lentil Soup, along with tomato and cucumber salad, white cheese, and of course, olives. Excited to try all the new foods, I could not wait until dinner. Trying every new dish I could find, it was not long before I found my favorites. Yet, after about the eighth day, my excitement was starting to dim, and I began to yearn for what I knew best. It is funny to think about what I would have done for some over-processed, chemically infused fast food.
Exodus 16:2 says, “And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”
Times become tough for a leader when the excitement of those that they lead becomes dim. Insubordination and even insurrection are possible when people believe they have been let down or led astray. For Moses, experiencing the power and glory of God, it must have been a tough pill to swallow when the people began to complain. Witnessing the very same wonders and miracles as he did, you would think that they would have the same faith. Yet, because their expectations were of another nature, they became disillusioned. Moses could probably assume that they may mutiny or even worse, remove him and Aaron from the leadership in any way possible. Once again, the Lord lifts his hand and sustains the people of Israel. So, Moses and Aaron begin to instruct the people that they will see the glory of the Lord and be prepared. Yet, they continue to complain about their unmet expectations. I realize I am taking a leap here, but by chapter nine I believe he has had as much as he can handle and basically tells his brother, “You deal with them, because I am fed up with their constant complaining!”
Luke 6:28 says, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
How often have you tried to do the right thing only to find you are not appreciated? You feel you have sacrificed your hard-earned time, money, and resources only to be rebuffed. Imagine Moses trying so hard to help his people, and time and time again to find that their trust in him and ultimately, the Lord, was short-lived. However, even with the abuse Moses would receive, we see him intervening in prayer for his people. He is constantly urging the Lord to show grace and mercy even when it was not warranted. That is what good leadership is all about, standing in the gap and taking it on the chin for those you lead. It is a servant who is willing to give more than they receive for those that are entrusted to them.
Philippians 2:3 adds, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
For those of us in leadership roles, we should realize that we too are capable of becoming disillusioned by our own desires. Even visiting a place of “milk and honey” where the food is good, we can find a reason to complain. It does not take long to realize, like the Hebrew people of Moses’ time, we too can return to enslavement. Because we do not always recognize the ways of the Lord or have faith in Him, we can easily return to what we know best, whether it is good for us or not. That is why godly leadership is so important.
When we gather together as a Church, we can strengthen, direct, and encourage each other. It is a great time to worship and be recharged together. We need each other and the reminders of how blessed we are. When left to ourselves or with harmful voices, we can become discouraged and complainers.
By the way, can I have two Crunch Wrap Supremes, two Crunchy Tacos and a large Baja Blast to go?