Contrary to popular belief, true leaders are not perfect nor do they always initially want to be leaders. Most people thrust into leadership roles never actually wanted that role or expected it. How do I know this? From my own personal experience.
If you are following along, this week’s scriptural Torah reading is called Shemos:
So here we are at the start of a new book, Exodus, and I am struggling with not jumping ahead. The entire book along with the book of Numbers is FILLED with basically all that you would ever need to be a successful person in life. Yes…it’s true! Can you wait for it each week? We can look to Moses to see how to LEAD pretty much anything and anybody and do it in the most G-d-like manner.
So back to the topic at hand…I mentioned before that most leaders don’t ask for leadership…it is their calling. Leadership FINDS them…even when all they want to do is HIDE from it.
Do you hide from your calling?
There are many themes in this reading, but I am going to focus in on Moses. He is now grown and could decide to just chill out with the Pharaoh and the Pharaoh’s daughter with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth but he just can’t shake that he identifies more with the people suffering outside his palace doors. He cares deeply about the Jewish people…so deeply, in fact, that he murders an Egyptian official who was beating a Jew in front of him. He realizes this was a pretty intense thing to do given that he is living under Pharaoh’s roof and he decides to run…far away…and hide from it all. He doesn’t just go somewhere else in Egypt…he goes FAR into the wilderness…like way deep into no-where’s-ville.
Some people believe he went to Midian to die…alone. But right before this occurs he notices something. Something no one else sees. The burning bush that was burning yet not consumed by the flames. He takes the time to turn and look. And he sees it. Once G-d notices that Moses SEES it, then he calls to him. He had to stop to look first before G-d would call to him. All too often we don’t see. We don’t notice the signs at play in our life. We don’t stop our busy lives long enough to actually SEE and take stock of what we are being called to do. But Moses does and this is what happens…he says to G-d basically this: I am far too unimportant for this task. Surely you meant to pick someone else! Yes…this is how the most powerful and influential leader of all time begins: with a feeling that he doesn’t deserve to be seen or to be put into this position. He is worried no one will believe him and this calling directly from G-d.
Our daily struggle to rise to our calling
His struggle is our struggle…each and every day. Yet in this week’s reading, we see Moses start to break free on his journey to becoming a true leader that is, in fact, very important to our history because without him we wouldn’t be where we are today. We all seek to break free but what does that really mean in practice? Let’s explore a few traits from Shemos of Moses:
1. LOVE: Part of why Moses was chosen for this task to bring his people out of slavery and suffering and into freedom is that he was born with one truly amazing quality: to love unconditionally without any kind of agenda. He truly puts his life in the line to save others. This teaches us that to be a true leader, we must measure our success not by what we achieve for ourselves, but rather, by how we impact our fellow man and the extent through which we become a blessing to others.
Like many of you, I wonder what this might mean in my life…should I neglect myself or my own needs to serve my family or everyone else? How can we expand ourselves to include others and make their concerns our own? We have to start to see that we tend to cloud our own experience with how other people experience us. We worry constantly about what other people think – good or bad – about us and how we live. But if we can work to understand our experience through G-d’s eyes and not cloud it with various emotions and inputs from other people, we can start to love unconditionally. This higher perspective allows us to break free from expectations and listen to our soul…or the truth. So how can we release this type of agenda based love from our current relationships? There is an oil blend called Release which can help with this – fittingly enough.
But wait…all leaders make mistakes. Moses is no exception and we learn equally as much if not more from his mistakes. We learn something profound in Exodus 4:22-26 about how to be a leader yet not forget what is most precious to you. We learns that no matter the responsibility put in front of us…no matter what state the people are in that we are seeking to help (I mean wasn’t Moses on his way to negotiate the release of 200K Jews suffering each and every day in slavery?) we must first be trusted with what is put in front of us: our immediate family! Sound familiar?! G-d tells Moses to go from Midian to Egypt and so he does in a great haste and, in doing so, he delays in circumcising his first born son which was a HUGE mistake! That is our convenant with G-d and so G-d is so angry he is set to kill Moses for this mistake. His wife saves Moses from his death by doing the deed herself. We can learn from this that we must focus on our families first and foremost ahead of anything we do with our community. We must first do what we expect the people following us to do. We can also see that we can’t lead alone…we need those closest to us to help us. We need their support and encouragement and for them to ensure we don’t slip up! Contrary to what you have been taught, we do not have to sacrifice our families for success. That cost is too great. I know from personal experience…don’t make the same mistakes I did and get your time under control.
2. VALUE: Moses did not feel he was important enough to be chosen for this task. Moses says: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?” – Exodus 3:11
Has there ever been a time when you didn’t feel important? When you felt you offered no value to a situation? Why? We must see we are important and valuable and that we have to take personal responsibility for what is missing in our lives to see that we do add value. If we do nothing, then we surely aren’t bringing value to the table. You can see how this can be a vicious cycle with no end unless we choose to face our deepest fears to change it. How can we feel more important and see in ourselves what G-d sees? Try using some Pine essential oil along with your prayer.
3. BEING SEEN: I mentioned earlier that most leaders don’t expect to achieve what they have or to be thrust into the limelight. Moses didn’t want to be seen out in the wilderness. He went there to disappear. But you can’t run away from becoming the greatest leader that ever lived. So is it safe to say that true leaders are FOUND and not self promoted?
I will let you in on my secret: I don’t like recognition – certainly not very public recognition. Yet recognition comes with being truly SEEN. You have to feel safe being seen. For the first time during our weekly Torah readings, I realized this. You might think I don’t hold back, but I certainly do in some areas of my life. I don’t put myself out there to be seen by those who might recognize me (the powers that be so to speak). I put myself out here for those who need it. So if you have any idea what I am talking about and can relate to it then hear this: G-d knows and can SEE you and I can safely tell you that it is safe to be seen and recognized for your achievements and if you can’t see that then G-d is going to give you ample opportunities to figure it out! I am personally using Purification to further my own growth…maybe just maybe you will start to see more of me in new ways!
As it is written in Exodus 3:13-14:
Moses said to G-d, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And G-d said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.”
Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh means something that is hard to translate but it is something like: I am who I am/I will be what I will be.” We truly are what we are but we will be what we will be if we allow ourselves to grow and change and go with the flow of life.
I am deeply excited to explore the rest of Exodus and Numbers over the coming months with you! May we all learn and grow and deepen our ability to bless others through this transformation to be our whole and true selves.