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Who Am I? A Question of Identity
Moses had a life-changing encounter with God who appeared to him in the burning bush. God called Moses to become a leader and to bring the people out of slavery. “
So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt" (
Exodus 3:10). But Moses had some serious questions before he was willing to lead. His conversation with God takes two full chapters as he wrestles with God’s call. If Moses would have accepted God’s call right away, we would have two fewer chapters in the Bible! But we also would not have learned how to answer our own leadership questions. Moses raised 5 questions or objections to which he needed answers. These questions and objections of Moses are issues that every leader must face at some point in their leadership journey. In the next five issues, we’ll examine the impact of each question or objection.
First, Moses wrestles with his own identity.
But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
(Exodus 3:11). Every leader faces the issue of identity. “Who am I? Am I adequate to lead?” It is easy to reflect on our past and find many reasons that we are not the right person to lead. We may feel that our education is not adequate or our experience is not enough. Moses teaches us that servant leaders need to know our identity before we are ready to lead.
Knowing my identity resolves inadequacy. Moses did not see himself as adequate for the task. It was a huge job to bring a nation out of slavery. He was a shepherd in the desert and found his identity in tending sheep. Now God was calling him to step into a key leadership role. Leaders who see themselves as inadequate cannot move forward with confidence. Servant leaders learn to recognize that it is God who is adequate. When He calls they can move with confidence in His abilities.
Knowing my identity reduces insignificance. Moses felt insignificant. “Who am I?” His assumption was that he was not the right person for the task. It was an enormous job that God was asking him to do. Yet, God had clearly chosen him to go to Pharaoh. Servant leaders recognize that God is the one who calls us to lead. He is the one who determines that we are the right person for the job. With this confidence, servant leaders are able to see themselves as significant because of God’s call, not their own abilities.
Knowing my identity releases insecurity. At this point in Moses’ leadership journey, he was insecure. He felt all alone. Perhaps he reflected on his previous attempts to lead and recalled his failures. God responds to Moses with a promise,
“I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). Servant leaders learn to find their security in God’s presence with them.
It is interesting that God did not directly answer Moses’ question about his identity. He did not say to Moses, “You are a powerful leader.” Neither did He tell Moses to read a good book on leadership and learn to “believe in yourself.” Rather, God’s response focused on who God is. This is the key for servant leaders. If our identity comes from who we are, it will always leave us feeling inadequate, insignificant and insecure. But when our identity is based on who God is, we will have the confidence to move forward and do what He has called us to do. This identity produces a courage and strength that cannot be produced by self.
Moses understood this and moved immediately to his next question, “Who are you?” We will examine this question in the next issue.
Until next time, yours on the journey,
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