Moses: Overcoming Inadequacy

Graceful Leaders - Biblical Encouragement for Leaders

10 Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
13 But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”
14 Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.
15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.” Exodus 4:10-17

All of the leaders we meet in the Bible were flawed in some way. The one exception was Jesus, the perfect leader, but then He was and is the Son of God. Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Simon Peter, James, John, Paul – they were all flawed. We meet them not only in their strength but also in their inadequacy.

Moses is no exception. When God calls him to go to lead his people from slavery in Egypt, Moses is quick to name his inadequacy. He is “slow of speech and tongue,” he says. Did he have a stutter or some kind? Was it a speech impediment? Or was he just afraid to speak in public? Was it hard for him to put into words what he wanted to say? We’re not told. He just says that he can’t handle the assignment because he can’t talk well enough.

We find out something else here, too. God will equip Moses for the assignment He gives him. He’ll give the words to say. He’ll give him his brother Aaron to speak in his stead when necessary. And he will give him something more – the ability to do miracles to assure the people that he has been chosen by God.

Christian leaders know their inadequacies. We can name them for ourselves, before God in prayer and even before others. In naming them, we express our dependence on God’s grace and provision and our need for others to step up and fill in where we fall short. Moses needed God. Moses needed Aaron. We need God and others to lead as well.

So where do you fall short? Are you impatient? Lack attention to detail? Is time hard to manage for you? Do you struggle with words, hate conflict, or find it hard to say no? Wish you were more creative or more discerning? In owning up to our inadequacies we open ourselves to God‘s empowering grace and to the splendid service of others.  It takes humility to say we are inadequate in some way. In saying it, though, we take a first step in moving from “I can’t!” to “We will!” 

Graceful Leaders is a series of meeting devotions designed for staff and lay leaders of Christian congregations. The series uses Biblical leaders as embodiments of grace-filled leadership in the church. The series is written by Dean Nadasdy, President, Minnesota South District, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Copies may be made and distributed within local congregations.