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Who’s Holding Up Your Arms?

Several years ago, when I was just beginning in ministry, I conducted a workshop at a women's retreat on the doctrine of vocation - and I was petrified. It was the first time I put together a comprehensive teaching session, the first time I delivered more than a 15 minute speech, and the first time I realized the value of having solid people to surround me when in a leadership position.

Before the workshop began, I shared my concerns with two special women: Ardath and Nancy. Ardath, ever the prayer warrior, prayed with me during the hour-long drive to the retreat center and Nancy, a longtime friend, offered me the support of her presence by sitting in on the workshop. Through them, I was able to find the strength and encouragement I needed to move forward through a moment of trepidation to do what God had called me to do.

In Exodus 17, we see a similar thing happened in the life of Moses, albeit on a far grander scale. The Israelites were encountering their first opposition while wandering in the desert. The Amalekites, a group of nomadic raiders, attacked the people of Israel. While Joshua led the troops into battle, Moses, along with Aaron and Hur, watched the battle from a nearby hill. Exodus 17:11 reads, "So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed." Eventually, Moses became weary, and so Aaron and Hur responded by holding up his arms until the Israelites were able to finally defeat the Amalekites.

Often, when we think of the leadership of Moses, our minds are flooded with images of his heroic deeds. Moses the statesman, confronting the Egyptian pharaoh and negotiating the release of God's people. Moses the shepherd, leading the Israelites through the Sinai Desert. Moses the conduit of God's miracles, stretching out his hand to part the Red Sea. Moses the legislator, descending Mount Sinai with two stone tablets containing God's laws. But Exodus 17 reveals to us another aspect of Moses' leadership: the willingness to accept the assistance of others.

One of the common temptations in leadership is succumbing to the pressure of having to "have it all together." We may be tempted to hide our fears and weaknesses, feeling that we need to be strong for others. We may find it difficult to trust others with our insecurities and doubts, believing that this would somehow compromise our integrity as leaders. Such tendencies are rooted in our cultural ethic of self-reliance, and they can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation that will ultimately handicap our effectiveness in ministry. To truly grow as leaders, we must, like Moses, be willing to embrace the support of trusted friends and advisors.

But how can we forge such relationships? Here are three suggestions for how to begin:

Taking it to God. Relationships should be grounded in prayer. Pray that God will surround you with godly people and reveal to you those people he has placed in your life to support you. Pray that God will strengthen and bless these relationships.

Taking risks. Authentic, meaningful relationships require a certain level of vulnerability. When building relationships, be willing to take the risk of being misunderstood or rejected at times.

Taking time. Relationships don't happen overnight. Like the carefully cultivated plant, they need space and time to grow. Build space in your schedule for activities and time with friends.

Ardath and Nancy, like Aaron and Hur with Moses, held up my "arms" in a time of need. Who's holding up yours?

July13, 2007 at 3:10 PM

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