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Moses was an author (he wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, the Penteteuch). He was an educated man (he spent his formative years in Egypt’s royal household). He committed a crime and spent a good portion of his adult life on the run, some of it in obscurity (40 years, with only three verses to show for it!). He had lots of questions for God (especially during the burning bush episode). He was a husband and a father.

He led several million Israelites on an incredible expedition to claim the land that God had promised them. He obeyed God by leading in the construction of the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. With the Lord’s help, he established the priest-led sacrificial systems, and he instituted many of the nation’s celebrations and feasts, all the while setting up governing structures and laws.

But he wasn’t perfect. He had a temper. He didn’t delegate easily. He wanted to quit on a number of occasions. He was let down by those closest to him. He spent time with God privately, and he offered his own life in place of the Israelites’ blood God threatened to shed, which is quite remarkable considering that nation’s lack of loyalty to anything but themselves. He learned the value of God’s presence and the importance of turning to God in difficult situations. He endured ongoing criticism about his leadership decisions and his leadership style. Even when he was on the mountain with God, planning their future, the Israelites grumbled.

Leaders make mistakes. Leaders get hit by criticism. The problem is that we do much of our leading publicly and our failures are often front page news! For some people, that constant ebb and flow of making decisions, being second-guessed and living under the microscope takes its toll.

Of all the things said and observed about this great man, I’m most touched by the one verse that says, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Apparently though others viewed him as a leader, Moses viewed himself as a learner. God intentionally chooses imperfect people to lead and what He hopefully gets are submitted ones, constantly being refined in the kiln of life. Raise one hand if you can relate to Isaiah: “I am a man of unclean lips”! Raise both hands to give thanks and to submit to the One whose mercy and grace gives us hope for another day!

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” -Jeremiah 18:4 (NIV)

is a credentialed minister and freelance editor living in Sacramento, Calif.