The Training of Moses

Where do leaders come from? Are they born? Are they made? Are men created to be leaders? Or, do they grow into leadership through God’s providence, personal effort, and the events of their life? A quick study into the life of one of the Bible’s greatest leaders may answer those questions.

Moses is one of the best known leaders in all of scripture. He led the people of Israel in its infancy as a nation. His leadership and ­direction formed a nation that not only ­lasted for hundreds of years but also brought about the Messiah to save the world.

When God calls Moses into ­leadership, it doesn’t begin well. In fact, Moses is resistant to leading Israel. In Exodus 3–4, Moses gives a list of reasons explaining why he shouldn’t lead God’s people. “What will he say? What if people don’t believe him? He isn’t good at public speaking.” Finally, Moses asks for anyone else to go and lead Israel (4:13). God’s response is simple: “You will go” (4:14–17).  

Why does God send an ­unwilling leader into the field to lead His people? Why would God trust Israel in the hands of a man who wants someone else—anyone else—to do the job? The answer is simple: God had providentially trained and equipped Moses for the job. And He had done so in ways Moses never fully understood.

God’s first step in Moses’ ­training came in odd fashion. He was raised by the enemy of Israel. Almost immediately after birth, Moses is adopted by Pharaoh’s ­daughter and raised as an Egyptian. He ­understood the culture of Egypt. He knew their gods. He understood their customs. That equipped ­Moses to be perfectly suited for leading Israel out of Egyptian slavery.

The second step in Moses’ training is often overlooked. In the study of Moses, we quickly skip through his forty year stay in Midian. It is ­treated more as a small speed bump in the life of Moses than anything else. But something much greater than a brief delay occurs in Midian. He is being crafted as a leader.

When Moses is called by God, a brief introduction reveals part of God’s training. Don’t overlook what is said:“Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, ­Jethro . . . he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness . . . ” (Ex. 3:1). Moses spent forty years shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks in ­Midian. At first glance, that seems to be ­insignificant. But is it?

Throughout the Bible, leaders are described as shepherds. God is a shepherd (Ps. 23; Is. 40:10–11). ­David, the greatest king in Israel, was a shepherd (Ps. 78:70–72). The priests and prophets of Israel are shepherds (Jer. 50:6–7; Ezek. 34:2–6). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–16). Good leaders are shepherds.

For forty years Moses looked after a flock of sheep. It is important to understand that during those forty years God was giving Moses the ­exact leadership style he would use to lead the nation of Israel. Those forty years were just as important as the first forty years spent in the house of Pharaoh for Moses’ work.

As you fulfill the roles of leadership in your life, lead like Moses led. Be a godly shepherd.