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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Leadership Impacting Culture: Stephen's Example of Moses in Acts

Reading through Acts 7:17-29, a few thoughts come to mind.

First, our present time and national circumstance is not very much unlike those of Moses’ day. National leadership is highly controversial, operating with a kind of amnesia regarding how we came to be a nation and the great men and women who got us this far. Notable leaders are not merely forgotten how they went about doing those things that made them great. There is a great reversal from the “how” (the blood, the prayers, the sweat, the tears) to the “who”, those who use immoral and unethical means to accomplish personal agenda. The Church exists in context. We are “the called out ones” within a nation of not remembering. More on this momentarily.

Second, the pragmatism that drives our national direction includes atrocities such as the exposure of our children. Just as Pharaoh killed the children of Egypt, we too are a culture of infant death. Abortion has been killing children for years and presently there is great debate concerning employers who are being forced by the government to participate in the sexual activity of employees by providing “morning after” pills via mandatory insurance coverage under the threat of heavy fines.

Exposure has another side. Children are being exposed to the culture of death. Recent news has unashamedly covered the death of innocents killed in schools--and this is not the first time. Sure, children may not sit and watch the news with parents, but the news will come around to them as they listen to radio, surf the net and watch various TV shows where memorials are observed. They will ask “what happened?”

Children are being exposed to death through video games, entertainment and the ‘net. Violence, crime, hedonism are the themes of today’s heroes. Parents have been portrayed as idiots on television for years and now we have passed the disrespect on to another generation. Children are divorcing their parents. Movies flow with blood, brutality, cannibalism. Exposure is ruining our children on the inside, in their minds. They don’t know how to think for themselves, not being challenged to examine and be convinced of what they know. Creativity is reduced to the production of memes, witty irreverent quips. They carry phones, but don’t know how to communicate.

Since by nature the Church is to be “the called out ones” the present context is perfect for us to return to the full sense of what this means. In other words, we are not to be hoarding food and ammunition, but taking a stand for righteousness and justice. Remembering is a central feature of who we are and who we are to be, like Israel and we use ceremony like The Lord’s Supper to help us recall. Our voice is not loud, but it should be understood to be without compromise.

Remember, when Daniel was removed from Jerusalem (and never to return), he took God with him. Daniel endured many, many years of ungodliness, but look what God did for him. Daniel did not change culture except when the hearts of other leaders were brought to God and the nation was able to enjoy Him.

Third, Daniel and Moses share another point of interest for us: they were educated within a context and God used what they learned to position them for leadership. Let me repeat: they used what they learned. What did they learn? They learned how their society functioned, the details of their culture, how people think. They were open-minded with a made-up mind, discerning truth and what was right. Moses was aware of how his mind worked and when God connected Moses’ knowledge with His purpose, he began to lead. Moses’ leadership would be civil, ceremonial and moral. God showed His grace through all these.

Reading Stephen’s words, we find something mentioned that Moses does not share when he wrote what we know as Exodus. Note verses 23-25. His calling had to be clarified. Moses knew God had a purpose for his life, but it becomes evident the details were not clear to Moses. We see him act to the best of his knowledge. Interesting that Stephen says, “they did not understand.” One cannot help but wonder if “they” included Moses himself, because he clearly did not understand. Regardless, he knew God had something for him to do and that “something” had to do with delivering his people. One wonders if God did not let Moses make a huge mistake in order to make it clear what was NOT in His plan for Moses or His people.

Perhaps Moses’ first mistake was that he tried to present himself as leader. The next mistake would be his method of operation.

Leadership is dependant on God’s calling, God’s preparing, God’s presenting and God’s action for His people. Leadership is assumed only by picking up what God lays down for a leader to use.

Finally, verse 29 shows that Moses ran right at the point when he thought he should be getting started. Don’t let this one detail escape notice: Moses had two sons. God gave Moses a practice  laboratory for leadership: his own family. The principle of Psalm 128 is now clear (a la Tony Evans): when a man takes God seriously, he is changed. When a man is changed, his wife is changed. When the parents are changed, the children are changed. When the family is changed, the place of worship is changed. When the place of worship is changed, the culture is changed.

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