“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’”
Exodus 3:11 ESV
When our Foundations/Essentials Director approached me about taking the director mantle from her, I was in the middle of a Bible study on the life of Moses. My first thoughts were similar to his at the burning bush: “Who am I to take this on?” Our community was so well-run and so full of godly women. I did not want to mess up a good thing! As I prayed and considered this “opportunity,” I learned many lessons from the life of Moses.
As Exodus 3 demonstrates, Moses took his fears straight to the Lord. When I listed out all my fears, it was not a short list! I prayed over them and studied the Scriptures to see how the Lord would answer them just as He did for Moses. You will no doubt recall that one of Moses’ greatest fears was speaking, and I can identify! Yet Luke records in Acts 7 that Moses was powerful in speech. I was renewed in my faith that God equips us as He calls us. I could not expect to do the job perfectly, but I could count on His grace and grace from my community as I was refined through the trials and challenges that would inevitably come. I can say now in retrospect that two of the biggest growth areas for me personally were conflict resolution and reliance on the Lord. I can also say I felt the power of my community praying for me throughout my time as director.
Exodus 4 records that the Lord told Moses that all the people who were seeking his life had died. In other words, the timing was right for his return to Egypt. I looked around at the amazing community of families I had come to love in a short amount of time. They were doing incredible work: adopting children, starting ministries, caring for elderly family members, and more. I did not feel I was the wisest, most experienced, kindest, or most you-name-the-quality-adjective among them, but I realized many current responsibilities I held were coming to an end. It seemed my path was being cleared for something new. I also had the necessary support of my family, especially my husband. As my successor noted recently, directing is a family effort. The first thing Moses did after the burning bush was to speak with his father-in-law. Then, he did not set out alone, but packed up his wife and children. Zipporah, his wife, had to jump right in and take some action before too long as well (Exodus 4:21-26). Every member of your family will get drawn in at some point—stuffing envelopes, cutting out circles for science experiments, etc. (And, yes, you will ALL become experts at setting up and tearing down tables.)
Moses loved the people of Israel (see his prayer for them in Exodus 32). The most important gift Classical Conversations has given me is community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said the person who loves those around them will create community. I also believe that if people know you love them, they will follow your leadership. One of the greatest perks of directing is getting to know each and every family on the campus in a personal way. It is humbling to share in their burdens, joys, and tragedies. I was honored to pray with them on many occasions, right in the moment of their need. I also came to understand clearly that none of us need be defined by where we are at any given moment in time. Numbers 12:3 records Moses was more humble than anyone on earth. Directing taught me that humility involves thinking of others and putting them first. (Contrast that with the low self-esteem problems that stem from how you think about yourself! While low self-esteem immobilizes us, humility mobilizes us to act for others.) As Rick Warren wrote, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” As a vivid illustration of this, know that every director becomes master of the toilet plunger.
Moses sought the Lord’s presence with the Israelites as they journeyed, and the Lord tasked them with very specific instructions on building His tabernacle. Exodus 39 records they did everything just as the Lord commanded them. As a director, I am under authority, too, and it is my desire to carry out the instructions with excellence, to set a high standard. I believe we hold each other accountable and together we are able to achieve more than we could on our own. This does not mean I would always make the same choices that Classical Conversations has, but I acknowledge their authority and there is safety under that umbrella. It also means I seek wisdom in applying grace to those guidelines. I have found directing is walking a line between high standards and grace.
Just as Joshua was prepared for leadership and then took over for Moses (Deuteronomy 3:28), other leaders will come for our community as well. Directing Foundations/Essentials is not a “forever” job. Some of the best advice my predecessor gave me was to start looking for the next director from day one. If nothing else, we will all “age out” of Foundations at some point, but other needs either inside or outside your community could make you step into a different role before then. A healthy community never rests on one person alone. When my time as a F/E director was coming to an end, I was able to bring a “director-elect” in to do the art and science my last year of directing. This gave her an opportunity to learn about part of the role, and gave our community a chance to know her as a leader. The following year, I remained on campus in the role of Essentials tutor, which was a win-win. For me, it provided an opportunity to facilitate a classroom and develop relationships with the students I would have in Challenge A. (I think there is no better training field for directing Challenge than tutoring Essentials!) For our new director, it allowed her some space with her Foundations tutor team. My “freedom” in the morning Foundations time also allowed me to help her out when needed. I know not everyone may have this opportunity for transitioning, but I can highly recommend it if you do.
To summarize, Moses, arguably the Lord’s greatest human leader, offered me the following list of lessons from his life:
- Define your fears and take them to the Lord. Be ready to grow.
- Check your circumstances: other commitments and your family.
- Realize that community comes from relationship. Be ready to love.
- Compare your standards with CC’s. Can you submit to their authority with excellence?
- Know this is not the end of the story. Be ready to raise up other leaders.
The most powerful moment in the life of Moses was the parting of the Red Sea. The Lord brought His people into a seemingly hopeless situation. All they had to do was step out in faith and He would do something amazing. Will you follow that example?
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!'” Exodus 14:15 NLT