A leader is a person who manages or directs others. Leadership therefore entails guidance and direction to people for the achievement of their ambitions. A good leader must possess some qualities and potentials. In this chapter, we are focusing our attention on four great leaders in Israel namely:
Joseph As a Leader: Genesis 37:1-28; 41:1-57; 45:1-15.
Joseph was one the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob had a special love for him because he was the son of his old age. This made his brothers to hate him. He had a gift of vision. He narrated his dreams to his father and his brothers. His father cautioned him, his brothers hated him the more. In one of his dreams, he went with his brothers to cut sheaves (stalks of wheat) for their father’s flock. According to him, his brothers’ sheaves gathered around his own and started to bow to it. Secondly, he saw the sun, the moon and stars bowing to him in another dream. Invariably, these dreams implied that he would rule over them all including their father – Jacob.
He was sent by his father to look after the welfare of his brothers because he was a faithful and obedient child. As he approached them, they saw him from afar and plotted to kill him.
However, his eldest brother, Reuben saved the situation by suggesting to cast him into a pit (he said this so he might free him: later). They all agreed with Reuben, but while Reuben was away, they brought Joseph out and sold him to Ishmaelite traders going towards Egypt for twenty shekels of silver (Gen. 37:28). His brothers conspired and sold him into slavery in order to prevent the fulfilment of God’s plan in his life.
He was humble and loving. This was portrayed when his brothers who cannot recognize him again came to buy corn in Egypt through a number of questioning, he made them to confess their past deeds. He forgave them, sent for his father and ensured that his father lived his final days in peace.
Getting to Egypt, Joseph was resold to Potiphar, an Egyptian army officer. As a slave in Egypt, God equipped him with the gift of endurance and of faith. Potiphar, in turn made him the head of his household servants. A very handsome boy, Potiphar’s wife attempted to lure Joseph into adultery, which Joseph resisted. The woman, having failed accused him of rape, for which he was imprisoned by Potiphar. He endured all the suffering. However, by fate, Joseph found favour with fellow prisoners and warders. Even in prison, he continued to interpret the dreams of fellow prisoners and he became their trusted friend. The chief butler, whom he interpreted a dream for, proved ungrateful to him and for two years did nothing to help him.
In the course of time, Pharaoh had two frightening dreams: one was a dream where seven thin, hungry-looking cows came out of the Nile and swallowed seven already standing well-fed cows. The other was a dream where seven ears of blighted corn swallowed another seven ears of plump corn. The king was troubled greatly for none could interpret the dreams, not even his wise men and magicians.
It was at this point that the butler, whose dream Joseph had interpreted in prison, recommended Joseph to the king. Joseph was therefore summoned. With the grace of God, he interpreted the dreams perfectly as implying seven years of bountiful harvest, followed by seven years of unbelievable drought. He even suggested to the king that the only remedy to beat the famine was by storing as much food as possible.
Pharaoh appointed Joseph as his second in command in the whole of Egypt. He was given unlimited power. He was given management ability as governor, that is, he was in charge of grain storing, distribution and sales.
The famine was so severe that it extended to other countries. including Canaan, where the rest of Joseph’s family members lived.
Whereupon his family came to buy food in Egypt many years after they sold Joseph. This was the incident that brought the whole family together in Egypt, which also marked the beginning of Israel’s slavery in Egypt. Joseph forgave his brothers as they reconciled and reunited.
Joseph’s Leadership Qualities
- He feared God and acknowledged him as the fountain of knowledge and divine favour (Gen. 45:6-9)
- He recognized every event that precipitated his present glorious position in Egypt as an act of God (Gen. 45:6-9).
- As head of Potiphar’s household servants, he was a faithful servant.
- As a leader, he feared God greatly and refused to dishonour his master by committing adultery with his wife.
- He is a leader who loves people around him. While in prison, he loved his fellow prisoners. Thus, the butler, after his release, recommended Joseph to the king.
- He is someone who hates vengeance – he forgave his brothers and even wept bitterly. We should therefore emulate him.
- He was humble as revealed in his attribution of the success of everything he did to the leadership of God.
- Joseph as a leader had administrative ability in organizing as reflected in the way he stored up food during the period of plenty and handled the famine crisis later on.
Lessons To Learn
- In every situation we find ourselves, we should give glory to God for He knows better. Everything works out together, for good, for he who loves God – so says the bible. Joseph realized this.
- God has a purpose for every misfortune we suffer and we should see it that way. He can turn our disappointments to blessing.
- We should try to be at peace with everyone around us, either as leaders or servants, like Joseph.
- If we fear and respect God, he will uplift us. For instance, we should not commit adultery with our neighbours’ wives.
- Joseph’s experience teaches us that whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
- The life of Joseph should be a challenge to Christians of today to commit themselves to God as Joseph did and they will be pleasantly surprised as to how much they can do for humanity in the name of God in Christ.
- A successful leader must have a good relationship with God.
The journey of Jacob and his family to Egypt signified the beginning of the fulfilment of God’s covenant with Abraham.
- Joseph was loved by Jacob more than all other children because he was the son of his old age and because of Joseph’s mother’s death.
- A coat of many colours was made for Joseph. This was worn by noble sons.
- Joseph’s brothers hated him because of their father’s special love for him and because of his dreams.
- Jacob’s sons sold Joseph to traders who resold him in Egypt to Potiphar, thereby becoming a slave in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar made Joseph leader in all things except his wife.
- Potiphar’s wife could not succeed in getting Joseph to lie with her, hence she accused Joseph of raping her.
- Joseph was imprisoned for this. And he spent two years in prison where he interpreted two dreams to his fellow prisoners.
- Pharaoh had two dreams which all his wise men failed to interpret. Joseph was remembered and invited by Pharaoh to interpret his dreams, which he did.
- Thereafter, he was made the second in command after Pharaoh to manage the affairs of Egypt during the seven years of plenty __ and the seven years of famine.
- Through this, Joseph’s parent and relatives came into Egypt. And he cared for them all.
Moses As a Leader – Exodus 1, 2, 3,4:1-17, 5:1-5, 22-23,
6:28-30; 7:1-7; 14:1-31; 32:1-14; Numbers 13:1-13; 14:1-19
His Call: -Exodus: 1-3
After Joseph had invited his father, brothers and their family to Egypt they settled in Goshen, and became prosperous and increased in number. This increase created fear in the mind of Pharaoh with the belief that the Israelites may conspire with the enemies of Egypt and fight for freedom. When the king saw no evidence that the population was decreasing he demanded to know why his order was not executed. The midwives said the Hebrew women were so strong that they, unlike Egyptian women did not require any help from midwives. Fear of domination by the Israelites, because of their very rapid rate of procreation, made Pharaoh to seek for a way of reducing their numerical strength, hence, his order to the Hebrew midwives to slay every Jewish male child at birth. Pharaoh ordered that every male child be cast into the river to drown. It was this period that Moses was born and hidden in the river after three month of birth so he would not be killed. By divine arrangement, Pharaoh’s daughter picked the baby up as she came to bathe at the river. By another divine arrangement she gave him to no one else to nurse, but his own mother.
As he grew up, he was conscious that he was a Hebrew and hated the treatment his people suffered in the hands of the Egyptians. One day, he visited the place where the Hebrews were labouring, he was incensed to see an Egyptian maltreating a Hebrew. In a fit of anger, Moses hit the Egyptian, killing him. The next day, he met two Hebrews fighting, he attempted separating them and blame the one at fault. One of the Hebrews rebuked him and told him not to kill him as he killed the Egyptian the previous day. Moses now realized that his secret had been exposed, he therefore decided. to run to Midian to seek refuge. He became a wanderer in the land of Midian where he met a group of girls by the well. He helped the girls to water their father’s flock. When their father (Jethro) got to know about Moses, he invited him to his house and assigned him to feed his flock. He later gave him one of his daughters, Zipporah for a wife.
Meanwhile, the Hebrews were still suffering in Egypt and they prayed to God for deliverance and the Lord heard their prayers. One day, he was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law where he noticed the flame but the bush was not burning. This caught his attention. As he drew near to find out what was happening, he heard a voice:
“Moses, Moses … Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground … ” (Exodus 3:4-5).
This was the very beginning of the call of Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and beyond. He made many excuses to God so as to dodge this call to duty, but God insisted on him, assuring him of every support and assistance needed in the task ahead.
Moses Leads Israel Out Of Egypt -Ex. 4:1-17; 5:1-5; 2223, 6:28-30
Moses accepted the call of God, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Under the revelation of God, Moses met Aaron. Moses discussed the vision God committed unto him with Aaron. They went to Egypt together. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh that he should release the Israelites. Pharaoh was annoyed and ordered their taskmaster to increase their daily work. There are two main reasons why Pharaoh refused to let the people of Israel go after Moses and Aaron had told him that God says he should let his people go. The first is that God had hardened his heart so as to bring untold punishment to Egypt. Secondly, Egypt knew that to allow Israel to go means scarcity of labourers. . But after the ten plagues, Pharaoh had no choice than to allow the people to leave. However, no sooner had they left than he changed his mind and pursued after the people with the aim of bringing them back.
The Israelites became afraid, accusing Moses of deliberately bringing them out into the wilderness to perish. However, God instructed Moses to stretch his rod over the Red Sea. The sea parted and the people passed on dry land. The Egyptian army pursued them, but God commanded Moses to stretch his rod again over the sea and the sea closed in and all the Egyptian soldiers drowned.
Nevertheless, these series of miracles did not convince the Israelites of Moses’ ability to lead them, neither did it convince them of God’s presence with them. Every now and then, the people challenged his leadership. At a time, God announced through Moses his intention to make a covenant with them, to which they agreed whole-heartedly. Moses announced the covenant, made sacrifices, but no sooner had he gone to confirm the covenant (to bring the ten commandments) at Mount Sinai, than the people rebelled. They compelled Aaron to make another god for them. Moses had gone to Sinai to receive the ten commandments. The Israelites were impatient to wait for him; thinking that Moses had abandoned them. They therefore forced Aaron to make a golden calf for them. This resulted in a very severe punishment, including the death many of them. Indeed, God wanted to wipe out the whole generation, but Moses interceded on their behalf as recorded in Exodus 32:31-32:
‘So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people have sinned a great sin, they have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if thou wilt forgive their sins and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book, which thou has written.
Expectedly, God answered and forgave them, but not without some punishments. Numbers chapters 13 and 14 gave another account of Israel’s rebellion which could have made them lose the promised land. The Israelites encamped at Kadesh. Almost very close to their destination. It was here that the Lord instructed Moses to send out twelve spies each representing a tribe in Israel to spy the land of Canaan. They were to assess her land fertility as well as military strength with the aim of conquering it. On their return, ten out of the twelve spies gave disparaging and discouraging report about Canaan, saying the people were giants, adding that Israelites were like grasshoppers compared with the size of the Canaanites.
This attitude amounted to a rebellion against God. Since God had promised to give them Canaan, they have no reason to fear the Canaanites.
Again, their attitude was to discourage the people and question Moses’ wisdom in bringing them out of Egypt to perish in a war with giants. However, Caleb and Joshua – the other two members of the spy-team countered the earlier discouraging report, describing Canaan as a land flowing with “milk and honey”, (Numbers: 13:27), meaning that the land was very fertile for purposes of agriculture. One would have expected this encouraging report to please the people. Instead, they insisted on choosing another leader. God became annoyed again but Moses in his usual manner asked God for forgiveness. Thus, several times, God flared up; and several times, Moses interceded for the people.
Moses’ Leadership Qualities or Lessons to Learn From His Leadership
- He is patriotic, as demonstrated in the sympathy he showed for his kinsman by killing his Egyptian counterpart.
- He is a nationalist who would rather die, risk his life, just to save and deliver his people.
- He is fearless, meeting Pharaoh face-to-face and delivering God’s message on different occasions.
- He believed and trusted God’s omnipotence.
- He is a model for all of us on selfless service and patriotism. We should emulate him.
- He endured and tolerated his people’s ingratitude even unto death. As leaders, we should learn to be tolerant of our subjects all the time, as they are bound to provoke us to anger many times.
- Moses obeyed God’s call to lead his people in spite of his shortcoming (he was a stammerer). We should learn to obey God’s call to serve him.
- God can manifest Himself in any form (for Moses, it was through a burning bush). We should bear this in mind, and not be afraid seeing such a thing.
- We should not give-in to discouragement from people. Moses was not discouraged by the horrifying report of the ten spies.
- No matter how many times we have asked God for forgiveness, we should continue to ask as occasion demands. Moses did this.
- Moses had a selfless love for his people and also had faith in himself as their advocate, willing to lay down his life for his love for his people.
- His nationalistic character and patriotism showed in his refusal to answer ‘Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter’, but instead, to share in his people’s suffering.
- Moses is a diplomatic leader who knows how to manage any situation before it becomes a crisis.
- Moses was born by a couple from the tribe of Levi at a time when a law was passed by the king of Egypt to kill all the male children born by the Hebrews.
- After three months Moses’ parents could no longer hide him. Hence, they hid him at the Nile bank in a basket.
- Pharaoh’s daughter picked him and the nurse he was given to was the mother.
- Moses killed an Egyptian who fought an Israeli. This secret blew open. Moses ran away to Midian.
- As a shepherd for Jethro, the priest of Midian who gave him Zipporah as a wife; God called him through a burning but not consumed bush.
- Moses became the leader whom God used to bring Israelites out of Egypt after ten plagues against Egypt.
- In spite of all this, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened so that he pursued Israel and in an attempt to cross the parted Red Sea he was drowned with his soldiers.
- Moses was humble, tolerant and caring.
- Moses and Joshua collected the tablets containing the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
- The tablets were broken by Moses because the Israelites turned away from God to worship idol (golden calf).
- Twelves spies were sent to Canaan. Ten came with bad report while Caleb and Joshua gave an encouraging report.
Joshua As a Leader -Numbers 13:16-33; 14:1-10; 27:15-23; Joshua 1:1-15; 6;24:1-31
While Moses was still alive, he had sent twelve spies to spy Canaan. as we have already narrated. Thus, all was set for the conquest of the big city, The people of Israel gradually approached the city. And then Moses, now very old pleaded with God to give him a successor who would lead the people to the promised land.
Moses was strengthened by God to lead the children of Israel close to Canaan – the promised lar ‘ God specifically told Moses that he would die. Moses prayed to God to appoint a leader that could replace him.
God instructed Moses to choose Joshua, the son of Nun, in whom was the spirit of God, to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua was among the twelve spies sent out to spy Canaan. He was courageous and had faith in God. This was evidenced in his earlier report that the people should not rebel against God because of his colleagues’ discouraging report about Canaan. He assured them that God will certainly deliver the city to them. This singular act of faith and courage brought Joshua to Israel’s political limelight.
Consequently, Moses commissioned Joshua as leader before Eleazar, the priest, in the full glare of the congregation of Israel by laying hands on him. This can be compared with the ordination of Priests and Bishops in churches today. Shortly, after this, Moses died. God gave Joshua words of courage and assurance as soon as Moses died. God used this very occasion to brief Joshua on his first assignment – leading the people across the Jordan.
Joshua therefore organized the people for the crossing of River Jordan, according to God’s instruction by appointing a leader from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. He instructed them to get the people ready for the match across River Jordan. Thereafter, he set up a monument of stones to serve as a memorial. From this point, Joshua proved himself a leader. First, he sent two courageous warriors to spy through Jericho and assess their military preparedness. Jericho – the great walled city was to be their first target. God commanded Joshua and his men to march round the city once for six days, carrying the Ark of God which symbolised the presence of God with them and the sounding of trumpets.
On the seventh day, the people marched round the city seven times and shouted “the Lord has given you the city” as God commanded. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed and the people marched in and took the land, burning it completely.
The last task Joshua performed before his death was to rededicate the people to the service of God. They promised never to serve any other god. So, Joshua made a covenant with the people including statutes and ordinances, to serve the Lord. Joshua died at the age of a hundred and ten.
Joshua’s Leadership Qualities
- He was a man of courage, not given to fear. In spite of the size of Canaan’s giants, he determined to fight them.
- He had absolute trust in God.
- He possessed diplomatic wisdom to quell riots, as seen in his speech to the people, never to fear because of the massive stature of the Canaanites.
- He possessed the ability to learn from his master as shown in his decision to spy Jericho just as Moses spied Canaan.
- He was a man who followed God’s instructions. He was very obedient. This was evident in how he led the Israel to cross the Jordan and the conquering of Jericho.
- He was a leader with foresight and was charismatic too. This was seen in his decision to re-dedicate the people to God before his death, knowing that once he is dead, the people could backslide.
- As a leader, he had a military strategy which aided him in the conquest of Jericho. There was a long blast of the trumpet accompanied by a loud shout of the army during the seventh match.
- Joshua the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim was chosen by God, and commissioned by Moses as his assistant.
- At one time he accompanied Moses to Mount Sinai.
- He also represented his tribe at Kadesh Barnea on the expedition to spy out the Canaan land.
- It was he and Caleb that brought back good report to Israel as against the other ten; Joshua and Caleb were the only two adults out of 600,000 who left Egypt that entered the Canaan land with the under-twenties. All others died on the way.
- After Moses’ death, God assured Joshua of His protection and encouragement to lead the people.
- Joshua sent two spies to spy Jericho which he later conquered, burning everything except Rahab the prostitute and her family because she hid the spies from the reach of the people of Jericho. He also spared gold, silver and bronze for use in God’s temple.
- Joshua died at the age of 110 years.
Lesson to Learn
- A good leader must be able to endure and be patient.
- Trusting in the Lord even at odd times should be paramount.
- As we aim at serving the Lord faithfully our lives are guaranteed to be well spent.
Deborah As a Leader -Judges 4:1-24
As Joshua died, Israel stayed several years without real leaders, military or civilian, but as occasion demanded, God presented someone for the purpose of solving that particular problem of Israel. Such emergency leaders mostly served as judges as they settled disputes (Judges 4:5). We can therefore say that this period in the life of Israelites witnessed the rule of judges. Deborah happened to be one of such judges. They were either prophets or prophetesses.
According to the bible, Ehud ruled before Deborah and after his death, Israel sinned against God, who delivered them into the hands of Jabin, king of Canaan.
At this period of apparent lawlessness, God raised Deborah as judge. She was a prophetess and used to sit at a particular spot everyday to judge cases between people. She must have been a woman of rare qualities for the people to respect her judgements since Israel had no regard for women at that time, according to history. Her position as a political judge and a prophetess made her to rise to a position of high esteem among the people.
The people of Israel therefore ran to her for a solution to King Jabin’s frequent humiliation of Israel. She therefore summoned one Israeli warrior called Barak and told him that he was to deliver Israel through God’s inspiration. Barak requested Deborah to accompany him to wage the war.
Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kadesh. When Sisera was told that Barak had gone up to Mount Tabor, he advanced with his army to attack them. Deborah ordered Barak to move against Sisera. Sisera and his army were routed. Sisera escaped and took refuge in the house of Jael. There, he was murdered.
Deborah’s Leadership Qualities And Lessons to Learn From Her by Nigerian Church Women
- She was impartial in her judgements, hence the people respected her in spite of Israel’s disregard for women at that time.
- Her combination of political and spiritual leadership (judge and prophetess) showed her as outstanding and unique.
- She was fearless and courageous as only these two qualities could take a woman to the war front.
- She was a facilitator and very pragmatic. At once, she agreed to take Barak to war, if not for anything, just to assure him.
- She was convinced that neither sex, colour nor tribe was a yardstick for leadership, hence, she took up her challenge not minding these limitations. Today’s church women should learn from this. Nigerians generally should allow women to aspire to leadership positions. Women should take the first step however.
- She was forthright, honest, optimistic, humble and trusted God.
- She did not allow her exalted position to get into her head like most women will do by being disrespectful to men.
How Nigerian Women Have Contributed to National Development Like Deborah
- We have women in politics and government.
- Women play important roles in churches today- deaconesses, evangelists etc.
- We have women in business and economy.
- Many women have demonstrated equal abilities with men in education, law, politics, technology, engineering etc. For example, today, we have women professors and justices.
- Women play a prominent role in the families as the basis for national development.
- Israel was under bondage being ruled by Jabin the king of Canaan for twenty years.
- God raised Deborah, Lappidoth’s wife as Israel’s judge and prophetess who used to sit under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel to judge them.
- This was in the hill country of Ephraim.
- Through her, God commanded Barak to fight Sisera, the army commander of Jabin.
- Deborah went to battle with Barak who got ten thousand soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun.
- The battle which took place around Mount Tabor near River Kishon favoured Barak and Deborah so that Sisera was killed by Joel the wife of Heber with a tent peg and a hammer.