How to Lead People Who ComplainBlog / Produced by The High Calling
"Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lordbecame exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you..."
Sometimes it seems "leadership" is just not all it's cracked up to be. Just ask Moses. He was so overwhelmed by the task of leading the whining, complaining bunch of Israelites through the wilderness that he in turn complained to God. "I cannot carry all these people by myself, because the burden is too heavy for me" (Ex. 11:14). Ultimately, Moses was so fed up that he would rather have God kill him on the spot than require him to continue as leader over all the weeping, murmuring complainers.
Leadership can seem a wearisome, thankless calling. Conflicts can easily arise over leadership styles. Like Moses, we may be legitimately called into our positions of leadership, but find that "followers" don’t always follow! God had called Moses to lead the exodus of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. God adequately provided for their needs and guided their travel in an unfamiliar land. But the people became bored with the provision of manna, demanding the meat and garnishes available back in Egypt. They were losing the vision of the Promised Land. They wanted meat, and they wanted it now! Their ingratitude and cravings were nothing less than rejection of Moses' leadership and God's provisions.
Moses was ready to throw in the towel. He emphatically informed God that these rabble-rousers were God’s problem.
Leaders today are susceptible to reacting as Moses did when those under their leadership begin to murmur. "Why did I take this position? Why can’t these people understand the vision? Why are they so resistant to change? Am I really the person for this job? I can't do this alone!" Or even, "God, here I am serving you. Why did you bring all this conflict on me? What do I listen to—the expectations of these people or the expectations of God?"
God told Moses, "Bring me seventy elders of Israel who are known to you as leaders." God promised to take the spirit which was upon Moses and put it upon the elders. These chosen men would bear the burden of the people with Moses; Moses was not to bear it alone.
Leaders today do well to follow these divine instructions. Leadership is not a solitary position. Work is most effectively done by sharing responsibility for it among all those involved in an organization. One way God helps us to bear the burden of leadership is through trusted souls who can take responsibility with us.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:5). We are reminded in this story about a weary leader who learned that God himself is the great burden bearer.
Pray for leaders in your community, workplace, and church. How can you help lighten their load? As a leader, how can you seek God's guidance amidst complaining and murmuring? Who can you gather around you to help keep the vision clear? Who can help you lead and still remain true to the vision of your leadership?
Remember, God does not intend for us to bear the burden of leadership alone!
Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lordbecame exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.