Often some of the most influential teachings we hear are principles taught by someone further on the journey than us. Robert Fergusson is a teaching pastor at Hillsong Church and an instructor at Hillsong International Leadership College. He is one of the wisest, passionate teachers I've ever had the privilege of sitting under; and he's not afraid to tell the congregation a hard truth that they won't like. These are some notes I took from one of his sermons, so I'm just the messenger here. I do not take credit for anything shared, but simply want to pass it on to you.
"An Audience With A King. "
There are basic principles which potentially carry from one person's life to another. I believe this is one of those principles. It's a principle we can trace back to the Old Testament in the book of Exodus. The Israelites have been brought out of Egypt and were traveling in the wilderness. We pick up the story in Exodus 33 before the Tabernacle is built, before Moses writes the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets, and before the Law is clearly given.
"Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent." -Exodus 33:7-11
So here's the question we have to ask: Why did Moses meet with God? Why is this story inserted into the story of Israel's exodus and becoming God's covenant people? I believe we find three key reasons Moses met with God.
1. Moses was a pilgrim - Moses lived in a tent. He had a temporary residence which was on a journey towards the promise land. Moses' focus was on the destination. He didn't build a permanent structure to meet with God.
We meet with God because we are to fix our eyes on the unseen, the eternal, the promise of what is to come. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, "So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." When we read our Bibles, pray, and worship, we are reminding ourselves that we are a spiritual people. We are focusing on the unseen and what is to come. Philippians 3:20 reminds us, "But our citizenship is in heaven..." We are pilgrims in this world journeying towards the promise given.
2. Moses was a shepherd - Shepherds live in tents. There is a big difference in the Old Testament between a shepherd and a farmer. Farmers built permanent structures and were self-sufficient with their lives. Shepherds were God-dependent.
Great leaders in the Bible were often shepherds; Moses, David, and Jesus himself said He was the good shepherd (John 10:11).We have to align our lives with The Shepherd. We have to become God-dependent not self-sufficient. Is meeting with the Shepherd a priority for you? Are you living out of your dependency on God? Or are you self-sufficient within your life?
3. Moses was a prophet - Moses was teaching Israel three essential truths in meeting with God.
i. This is how you meet with God
ii. You dishonor God when you don't meet with Him
iii. The future of God's people is meeting with Him outside the camp. It's a personal relationship God desires from us. He doesn't want us to live off of second hand experiences in corporate settings. He wants to meet with us "outside the camp".
We don't just meet with God for ourselves. When we meet with God we are setting an example for future generations. We are living past ourselves when we meet with Him and encounter Him personally. We set the example for our spouse, our children, our grandchildren, and anyone else looking to us. It's living with generational influence set in our hearts.
This is a Kingdom principle. It's not an Old Testament thing or just a pastoral or leadership thing. It's a Kingdom truth. If you're in God's Kingdom you have to put the King first (Matthew 6:33).
So here's the how to all of this. It's simple, it's basic, and it's exactly what Moses did.
1. Take your tent - take the time to meet with God. You don't tune up an orchestra after it has played. Take your tent and meet with God. Journal, pray, read the Bible, sing, do whatever it is, but take the time.
2. Pitch your tent - find a place to meet with Him. Know your place and walk away from what is distracting you. Moses went outside the camp. Get away from the noise, the chaos, the cell phone, the things which are keeping you from God.
3. Name your tent - naming something changes your attitude for it. Moses named his the tent of meeting. What's your meeting place with God called? Mine is simple, "my time with God". It's not complicated, just name it for what is is; meeting with God.
When we meet with God we honor Him and empower ourselves. Oswald Sanders said once, "Every one of us is as close to God as he has chosen to be." Meet with the King. Have a daily audience with the King. He wants to meet with you.
I was brought up in the church. It was never a question of, "will we be involved?" it was a question of, "what is there for us to do?" I didn't understand then how my parents were teaching me a very biblical example of leadership. As a young adult I continued to serve in the church in one capacity or another. I would play music, help set up tables for a dinner, get involved in VBS, and so on. I did it because it was how I was raised - serving was who we were.
The past few years God has taken me on a journey of seeing what true biblical leadership looks like. Jesus was the perfect example in every way, and leadership is no exception. He showed us that leadership beyond words you say and what title you have. Leadership is anchored in being a servant to all.
The best way I can share this is from a passage found in John 13. We find Jesus nearing the end of His life here on earth. As John writes, "Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father." (John 13:1). Jesus knew He was approaching the cross to be the ultimate servant of the world. In this moment, this time known as the Last Supper, we see Jesus teach true leadership.
"He (Jesus) laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist.Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him." -John 13:4-5
1. Jesus laid aside His outer garment: In order to lead we have to become genuine with people. Lay aside your title and be real with people. Find out who they are, where they've been, and what they need. Jesus didn't wait for others to serve Him, He served them first. He made himself vulnerable to serve others. Jesus' leadership wasn't about the shiniest name tag, the loudest voice, or having others serve His needs. His leadership was about serving everyone around Him.
2. Jesus took a towel and tied it around His waist: It's not enough to lay aside titles, images, and status to lead others. We have to take something new on; we have to place the title of servant on ourselves. Jesus didn't just lay aside something, He intentionally placed something else on and allowed Himself to be identified with it.
Leadership is about taking on the title of servant. If you can serve others you already are leading others. In your home, with your wife, with you husband, with your children, are you willing to serve? How about co-workers? Neighbors? Can you lay aside the title, the position, the attitude to best serve others?
Leadership is not spelled "my way or the highway" but, rather, "how can I serve you?"