How may I serve God and not be strangulated along the way? How do I avoid a trend I have seen so often with people in ministry? I have seen people start well and continue by just wandering in the wilderness. If these questions relate to you...
There are two critical issues for missions leadership; issues that apply to our lives and to our labours as Christian leaders. The first matter is a question I have been asking God. It is this: How may I serve God and not be strangulated along the way. How do I avoid a trend I have seen so often with people in ministry; I have seen people start well and continue by just wandering in the wilderness. There are static and dynamic stagnations. The worse of the two is dynamic stagnation. I am afraid of dynamic stagnation, where a man is moving, working and doing so much and yet he is not advancing in God's call.
Dynamic stagnation is like being at a roundabout and not knowing where to go. You can even cover 10 km moving round. You will have motion without direction. The vector of your motion will be 0. There will be no measurable displacement in the direction that God expects you to cover. As a case study, let's take the story of Moses and the children of Israel.
I don't know how you would have felt if you were in Moses' shoe, to see exodus. I don't think there is anybody God has called that He does not give initial encouragement. And we thank God for initial encouragements; without it we would not have been where we are today.
In the exodus, Moses was the most crucial man. He was the one who needed to know where to turn; he was the one who provided direction for the team. It was not a leadership by committee; he did not call for opinions and advice. For instance, when he asked God for direction, God told him “there are two roads but I will take them through the longer road,” because He wanted to teach them maturity, dependence, communion, etc. That is His pattern for maturing life. You know, the reason why a baby stays in the womb for 9 months is because the features needed to be formed in the dark obscurity. And, anything that is not formed then can not be after birth.
The same principle holds in God's dealings with us, He wanted us to be formed first. When we started, God was not just interested in our work, but He wanted all the features of His design to form first. He wanted to form character, strength, integrity, dependence and so forth. If this formative period is not maximized, if we do not form well, when the work begins to expand, it will lack strength and character and all those necessary features. So the first stage of the journey of Moses was for God to create what should be the features and characteristics of those people under him.
But you know they never stopped murmuring. Even at the red sea, I thought they would recollect the power of God in delivering them from Pharaoh. They did not, and as unfortunate as that is, it is not the main problem. All of that is not of great consequence. It is only when those who are supposed to be in leadership become weary and tired in their souls that real tragedy strikes.
“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat!... Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now if I have found favor in your eyes and do not let me face my own ruin." The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.” (Num 11:4 17).
They multitude complained, they said “we ate fish freely, and the leeks,” as if it was not indeed the bread of affliction they were eating. Note that the scenario painted from verse 1 11 was not peculiar to this chapter. It has happened severally before. They had murmured on other occasion and God had been angry with them, but Moses pleaded for them; there was a Moses to stand in the gap, else we would have had a Mosiac nation today instead of Israel.
Every where the work of God has moved, there was always a leader who has been selfless. Whose bedroom and living room were the first mission office. Sometimes, it even affected the family. Sometime, other legitimacies like paying the children's school fees had to be delayed to attend to some urgent kingdom issues.
Moses had always stood between God and the people. This chapter was not the first time God was being angry. But there was this leader who was willing to stand between the angry God and the disobedient Israel. It's like an irony, but that is the condition and quality of leadership that pushes the work of God forward. Somebody was willing to lay down his life. Every movement of God has always been, not because the followers were submissive. Every where God's work is moving forward, it is not because there is perfect followership but it is because there is a leader willing to lay down his life.
Vs 11 - 13 where Moses too began to complain looks to me to be the secret beginning of the wandering in the wilderness. Notice that this was not the first time Israel complained but as long as there was a man who stood and said, “Lord I know this is a privileged service, if you will kill me, kill me”, the work went on.
The reason I'm saying this is because missions problem has always been there. The problem of insubordination has always been there. Some of the foreign missionaries have left our country in pain and rejection and have even placed a curse on our people. Missions problems like that will continue to be there but the work will still continue until there is tiredness in the heart of the leader.
Note that this meeting was a secret meeting between Moses and the Lord. Even Aaron was not there. It was a private time between the leader and his God. In time Past, he came to beg for Israel, but today he called his ministry an affliction. The moment ministry is no more an excitement but a complain, be careful; because when you start complaining, unconsciously, what you received by the mercy of God, you start calling an affliction.
I knew when I got to Tiv land, I knew it was my place and God told me “you can't receive this work until you have received mercy.” And I waited for many years to know what it means and to receive the promised mercy. If anyone is listening to me today, it is by the mercy of God. When I see other preachers riding flashy cars, I don't budge, because they have not received mercy to do the kind of work I am doing. When I hear testimonies as I travel, it tells me that I have not suffered in vain. Sleeping by the roadside and all the other hazard have not been in vain.
Let us be careful that pressure does not make us to resign in our heart. As far as I am concerned, the reason why they did not get into the land was not because of the murmuring of the people. It was because of the failure of the leader.
Does Moses' question mean that if this people must get to the land, you must carry them as a nursing mother carries her baby? God said to him, whatever they do, Carry them. This was the instruction and that is what he had done until they came to this point where something has happened to the leader. Suddenly, you are complaining.
When the heart of the leader is tired, he will push in all kinds of worldly, secular administrative policies into the work. He may start charging “per DM” when he travels. God forbid! Christian leadership is not essentially a council matter. The council we constituted was to help us ensure accountability.
When a man has resigned in his heart, even his prayer access that he will normally use to secure miracle to the ministry will cease. Before, when there was no money he went on his face to pray, and when money came, he did not care whether it was personal or not, it was used for the need on ground. However, when you have resigned in your heart, you will now call a meeting to discuss every need. It may not be apparent that resignation has taken place, but you would have entered into dynamic stagnation. There will be more discussion, more meetings, more communication than agonizing, than prayer.
If this happened to Moses, if that great man came to this point of tiredness, I don't trust myself. So I pray, God help me, am I beginning to resign in my convictions. These are the parameters of the soul of any work. When the souls have resigned, it becomes an organization. The difference between an organization and organism is that the organism is living. Organization is needed when there is an organism. Else, what is left will become a meeting of dead parts.
Now, take a look at God's response to Moses. “... and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them...” Was this an increase in anointing? No. it means that what God gave him to carry, he had anointing to carry but since he complained, God gathered people, and redistributed the grace for the people.
So while they were taking the anointing from him, he was diminishing. And I am not talking about doing a one man show. I am talking about resigning in the heart and replacing organism with organization. It's when we have resigned that we gather people. We say let them come together so they will know how difficult it is.
Stop sharing what God gave you to carry with people that He has not ordained. Whereas I am not talking about God being a respecter of persons, I tell you that our prayers don't receive equal attention. Sometimes God wants to hear your voice. It is because he respects his men. He respects His men so He respects their voice.
The result of that incidence was that something fell out of the man of God. Something had happened to Moses. He may think he was reacting to the people but he did not know that he was dying. Have you now stopped living by faith; where you use to believe God for upkeep, do you now place a demand on the organization? You may think you are reacting to the people, but you are reducing.
Where you once prayed, you now set up a building committee. You now refuse to take responsibilities in God's presence. These are signs of quiet resignations. That was why Israel wandered for 40 years. I am not here talking about administrative roles. I am talking about who you are before the Lord.
In Chapter12, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. It was because something had left him. In chapter 13 they sent 12 spies into the land. It was now quota system. Did they spy the land before they left Egypt? Even if they needed spies, did they need 12? They no more trusted each other. I thought it was the Lord that told him to send the spies but in Deuteronomy he confessed that it was their request. When they sent those 12 unconnected people, they went and formed unions. When they came back, they voted the man of God out. They said “lets appoint another leader to take us back.”
The man we are looking at was one who forsook being Pharaoh for the sake of his convictions; yet while he was alive, the work scattered in his hands. We need to pray on how to move the missions enterprise forward. In God's plan I think Nigeria has what it takes to bring God to the Nations.
Please, take responsibility for what God has called you to do. Moses was just going round until he died. When he died, God called Joshua. Joshua did not call a committee, he said 'in three days we are leaving' and they did, they crossed Jordan. When they crossed, he called on God and the Captain of the host showed up to him.
I know that we carry something here in Nigeria. If we follow God well, we can call other nations here and facilitate a paradigm shift. Let us brace up, let us go back to the owner of the work and regularly renew our commitment to Him and to His calling over our lives. May He give us grace, never to resign, never to go into dynamic stagnation.
An excerpt of the message delivered by Bro Gbile Akanni during Mission Elders
Nigeria Missions magazine
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