In this week’s Torah portion Moses demonstrates one of the characteristics of spirituality. The natural man is focused on self and sees everything in terms of how something affects him; while the spiritually minded man is able to see beyond himself and places the needs of others before him. Moses had endured a great deal of criticism and rebellion as the leader of the children of Israel. In the forty years of his leadership he had not failed too often. However we all remember when he failed to sanctify the name of G-d at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin (Numbers 20:1-13). Because of this sin, G-d told Moses he would not lead the people into the Land of Israel. As the people traveled on they came to the Mountain of Abarim from there one could see the Land of Israel in a clear manner. Therefore HaShem said to Moses,
“Go up to this mountain of Abarim and see the Land that I have given to the Children of Israel. You shall see it and you shall be gathered unto your people…because you rebelled against My word in the Wilderness of Zin…” Numbers 27:12-14
When Moses heard the second time that he would not enter into the Land he then asked G-d to appoint a new leader who would successfully lead the people (see Num. 27:16-17). Notice how Moses did not think about himself, but immediately considered the people’s condition without a leader. Are you able to put the needs of others before yourself? Loving your neighbor demands just that. Most people struggle with this, but being a proper leader demands this. Many people seek out leadership positions because of self interest and not the interest of the group for which they are responsible.
Yeshua gave a wonderful example of a leader in John 10. In this passage He spoke about the Good Shepherd, who is willing to lay down his life for the sake of the sheep that were entrusted to him (see verse 11). Are you prepared to place the wellbeing of others before yourself; even if it means you losing your life? This is exactly what the apostles did in order to be faithful to their calling. Most of the first century leaders lost their lives, many in a horrific manner. Such a commitment is rare today, but there are those who serve in such a way. What causes one to be able to become this type of leader? Love; a love rooted in a proper understanding of the extent G-d was willing to go in order to redeem them from the consequences of their sin.
Why not ask G-d to show you where you are spiritually? Have you matured to the point where you are able to place others before yourself? A good test for determining this is to ask yourself how you feel when other people succeed. If you can truly rejoice in the good things that happen to other people then you are on the right track. However, if the success of others makes you feel unhappy about yourself and causes a sense of feeling inferior, then you are not ready for leadership.
Moses’ replacement was Joshua. It is most telling that these two men were very close friends. Moses did not think Joshua failing in his role would make him seem a better leader than him. Such a thought never entered his mind. Rather Moses only thought about one thing: assist Joshua as much as he could, because the wellbeing of the people Moses loved, the Children of Israel, depended on Joshua’s being a success. In conclusion ask yourself what type of leader you would be?
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