Scripture Exodus 2:11-15, 23-3:10
I think I have shared this story before, but when I was growing up in my primary school days, it was common that as part of proving your self, one had to earn respect and find your place in the ranks. As boys we had our ranks of who was the strongest of them all and where there was doubt, it would be settled in a duel, the challenger and the title holder would fight.
On one morning, a short boy came up to me and said ‘nakuweza’ – very quickly the other boys picked it up and although we had no reason to fight, the boys riled me up that this short boy could not beat me. I tried to play it down and told him there is no need to embarrass himself, but the boy was over confident and challenged me to defend my stand. So that afternoon after school, like a boxing champion- I already had a band of supporters who came and riled me up to go and face my challenger. Honestly I still had no reason to fight.
The funny thing is getting to the ring, and still lacking sufficient anger, or angst to begin the fight. We would stand in the ring with our hands in a fist, but still weak in resolve. So they would begin the riling again, and when nothing seemed to happen- the final trick was the stone on the palm or the spit. Let me not tell you about the spit, but the young man placed a stone in his hand and dared me- Kama wewe ni mwanaume ngonga. (hit it if you are a man)
I am not so sure what I was thinking- feeling a bit unprepared and unwilling, I hit it and what followed was my knock-out punch. My anger started to kick in, but now it was too late, although my fists were clenched, I felt weak. I lost the fight and lost my title.
We continue with our series on Generous Living, through this term. Through this month of November we switch gears to focus from Generous Living and giving (what we called Blessed to Bless), now we are focusing on Generous Living and Leadership, and we are saying that we are also blessed to lead. We will be learning from a great leader in the Bible- leadership lessons from the life of Moses.
Today and most of this month- We look at the opposite of Open Hands, A clenched fist. Can anything good come out of clenched fists, what gets your hands clench into a fist? Today we tackle the Call to Leadership- What gets us started in the journey of Leadership. What gets you started in the course or struggle for anything?
The famous Sarafina movie, depicts the apartheid struggle of South Africa and their cry for freedom. In that characteristic song- Freedom is coming tomorrow, the spirit is captured in the raised fist in the air that was the characteristic emblem by Nelson Mandela, signaling a strong commitment to a course, the course of freedom.
Too often when we talk about leadership, there is a sense we begin with vision as the first place, but I suggest to you today that Leadership begins with a Clenched Fist.
Let’s turn to scripture and I’ll show you what I mean.
Read: Scripture Exodus 2:11-15, 23-3:10
Moses is by far one of the most respected biblical figures in history. At the core of biblical faith, is the story of this great leader who shaped the history of the children of Israel and the church today. But where did it all begin? How did it all start?
Born in a risky season where young, Hebrew boys were being killed by an insecure Egyptian ruler, His mother had hid him in a basket as a baby and sent it out into the Nile. By God’s grace, Moses was picked up by one of Pharaoh’s daughter who fostered Him as His son. Although he grew up in the palace among the noble Egyptians, he never forgot that He was a Hebrew.
When He had grown up, He went out to visit His people and the sight of what He saw changed His life. Already he knew of the torture and hard labour the Egyptians were imposing on the Hebrews, they were slaves, but this particular sight got the most of him.
He saw a beating, an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Israelites. It wasn’t enough that they were already torturing them. Something stirred in him, and I Imagine he had a clenched fist and He couldn’t take it no more and he came and killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.
The next day He went out again to see his people, but this time he found two Hebrews fighting against each other and again he was stirred to interfere, I imagine he may have thought- Isnt it enough that the Egyptians are killing you and destroying you, why do you turn on your own? But this time- the response made him flee, because His last act was now treason to his Egyptian noble family and the Pharaoh.
But let me stop here and focus on this, Moses got to the point that he could not stand the pain no more. Have you had those moments that you know you can’t stand something anymore? When it gets to you personally?
I want to suggest that’s where the call to leadership begins- When there is that state of discontent at the way things are. Even more interesting is when God comes in the picture.
In verse 23: Years had passed and the King of Egypt died, there was another king- But God never forgot. The cry of the Israelites rose up to God, and Verse 25 says- God knew now that it was time to act. This is when he calls Moses through the burning bush experience.
After God invites him- listen to God’s words Vs 3:7-10. In other words, God was telling Moses, Just as you saw the oppression of my people and your heart was broken in anger over the injustice and slavery, I feel the same way too, I can’t stand it anymore- So I am giving you this assignment to go and lead our my people from Egypt.
There is something powerful here that God is saying- I share that anger you have, and because of that I want to use you and empower you to lead. This is how Moses was called into leadership.
The assignment and the vision is preceded by A clenched fist moment- ‘I cant stand it anymore’ moment.
The Call of David was the same, He came out one day and finds Goliath hurling insults at the God of Israel for 40 days no one was able to challenge him and He cant stand it no more, with a fist- He dares to fight Goliath and His leadership journey begins
The same is true for Nehemiah- he gets a report about the state of the walls in Jerusalem, while in exile that the walls were in ruins and the neighbouring nations were mocking the God of Israel- and he is broken and begins to rally up for the rebuilding of the walls.
Even Jesus, gets that ‘Cant stand it no more, moment- that clenched fist moment when he was at the temple and saw the selling and exchange in the place of prayer. This is called Righteous anger or some call it Holy discontent?
What about you today, what is it that gets us to that clenched fist, cant stand it anymore moment? What do we do with those moments? Do we run away from them or do we do something about it?
Let me now speak to us as a church, When we lose our passion for the Gospel, we begin to die. When sin does not make us angry anymore, when lost people don’t break our hearts anymore, when these empty chairs don’t bother us anymore, we begin to die?
What is it that makes you angry, that gives you that unsettled heart until something is done? Do we run away from it? Or do we find a way to nurse it
One of the most important things we can do is to identify the things that get our hands into a fist, into I can’t stand it anymore, because if it also angers God then it probably is the beginning point of your leadership journey.
As we continue in our discipleship journey, God will begin to expose us to the things that get him angry and unsettled and for some of you God is calling you through these moments… These are our burning bush moments.
So once again what is it that you can’t stand, that gets your hands into a fist?
Is it the indiscipline and godlessness of our children today
Does it anger you, that the church does not have a strong prayer ministry
Does it anger you that Christian marriages are breaking apart and losing the testimony
Does it anger you that our young people are drifting from the faith and morals
Does it anger you that Décor doesn’t look good
Does it bother you that we use paper for our worship when we can have TV screens
Does it bother you that we have over 1000 families in Syokimau yet we are only about 40 today in church?
Is it the plight of the poor?
Is it the corruption, injustice and social ills because of poor leadership and governance in the Nation
Does it bother you- What do you do about it? When these things confront you?
One of the things that really bothers me- is the many divisions we have along religious lines and churches that we cannot fellowship together as Christians but we must define church boundaries first. For this reason, I sensed God placing me to lead the Syokimau Fellowship of Churches. And I think we can offer this community that leadership as a church.
For God was so bothered about you, that He gave His only begotten son.
What do we do with these moments of clenched fists? Too many times we shy away, or we complaint and hope someone else will do it, or we find a way to numb it.
This is the reason behind many lost courses, When we refuse to act on these divine promptings, the church gets colder and colder, cozier and cozier- and eventually we become as quiet as a grave yard.
I have been reflecting on my own walk recently, And I am repenting of many times God has confronted me in my devotional walk with him, when God speaks to me and nothing seems to stir in me, when I come to church and am not broken over my unrighteousness or when I take the Lord’s table and my heart is not stirred by what He went through. Join me in crying out to God to restore our hardened hearts, to create in us a new heart.
God awakens us from apathy and slipping away by these moments of anger and clenched fists? God is looking for those who are wrecked like him- To them he gives the vision and the assignment.
Allow me to share a few clear thoughts on this
As we live God’s LIFE in our lives, Many things will break us like Jesus, but God will connect us with that one thing that you cannot stand? He will show you this is why I wired you like this, this is why you went through the pain, the experience.
Leadership then does not begin with a vision or an opportunity, but as we live God’s LIFE in obedience He will Connect us to these moments. They don’t come from outside. If you are waiting to be called to serve, you may wait forever, but when the passion is there- opportunities are everywhere.
We cannot appreciate the vision God has called us to until we are broken first. EMERGE can remain a thing we say but until we really are broken by God’s heart for the lost. We will not see the need for reach, for planting churches.
Some of you maybe saying I haven’t found it yet, that moment hasn’t come- Are you being exposed, are you walking in the land- it was when Moses stepped out that the moment came, that would not have happened if he kept in the temple. Have you walked around Syokimau and seen the land?
When you find it- feed it, don’t run away from it- increase your exposure for it, listen out for more of it
When God lays this fire in our hearts- We surrender our small egos, because the cause is greater than ourselves, Ask Martin Luther King, Ask Nelson Mandela, Ask Jesus- we can take more risk and sacrifice more, we don’t find time, we make time.
When our fists are clenched- we become creative, we become involved, we have a sense of urgency, we don’t see you Vs us, we let go of our pride and fear, because there is much more at stake.
Generous Living Prayer
I am blessed to lead, God’s LIFE is my All sufficient resource, All that I am and have I give for the extention of God’s Kingdom, with open arms I receive from the Lord and with oen hands I give to the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word, Amen.
1. Read the text again… can you identify your Holy Discontent moment
2.How does your discontent connect with the heart of God?