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The Moses Temptation in Creating Vision

There’s nothing more heroic than the leader who goes off to some lonely place and comes back after an extended period of time with a clear vision for the organization and people they lead.

It’s what I call the Moses temptation of vision creation. In the Moses temptation the leader believes he or she’s to go off to the mountain, meet God, receive divine direction and return to the people with a vision so solid and unmovable that it’s written on tablets of stone.

When God used this process with Moses the results were stunning – a set of 10 “laws” which are still the basis of much of the today’s legal system. Yet it’s also the root of the Moses temptation – believing we’re Moses and our vision’s equal to the Ten Commandments.

But the issue for lesser yet important visions and their creation is that the process doesn’t allow for dialogue and debate necessary for building a committed team of stake holders. How can you debate a message from God “engraved in stone”?

Transparent, honest and humble dialogue’s necessary if stake holders are to have true buy-in and a long-term commitment to a vision. It’s not enough for an organization to have a charismatic leader who can inspire followers for a season; sustainable vision requires a sustainable community of people whose commitment’s built on their involvement in a vision’s creation.

And one last thought. Doesn’t a truly inspiring vision, one that compels us to long-term sacrifice, need to be significantly larger than a single person? I know I want to be a part of and lead an organization with a vision bigger than any single person, including me.

What about you? What’s your take on the Moses temptation? What kind of vision inspires you to a long-term commitment to seeing it through to reality?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. To be honest, the first thing that came to mind was that all sorts of cult leaders have used that same line of “God told me…..”

    October 11, 2011
    • Thanks for the comment and I agree. Truth is, based on your definition, there’s cult leaders in other fields besides religion including politics, business and entertainment.

      October 11, 2011
  2. Interesting thoughts, Michael. It is always a good challenge to make sure we are not assuming every whim and fancy of ours carries the weight of the 10 commandments, and that we not lead without the Lord’s clear vision. However…

    I worry about the process that gets you to this point. I do not feel that there is a Biblical basis to call God’s leading through Moses a problem. What’s more, it is a common mistake to elevate the men of the Bible to anything more than they were – messed up sinners just like you and me. God chooses to use the humble and broken and weak things of this world to shame the wise, and he often gives clear vision to that weak, humble, and broken leader to accomplish those purposes.

    It is up to each one of us (as leaders) to not put more weight or glory on the position we hold or the direction that we give. We must lead boldly and with passion, in hopes that many desire to follow, but it is ultimately up to each of us to seek the Lord diligently so that we do not lead others astray.

    Is there a situation or specific leader in the scriptures that you are trying to emulate as you voice this desire? I’m not saying that God doesn’t lead through a committee or a team of people, but I would not call it the common method.

    October 18, 2011
    • Great thoughts Jay. Though I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Moses model isn’t Biblical (because it is). The question is, should we expect this to be the normal model all Godly vision for communities? the truth is it doesn’t happen that often in scripture is way. Read the book of Acts and you’ll see the community base vision led by a leader is a more common model especially if the vision is for a community and not an individual. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

      October 18, 2011

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