Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Numbers 11

The people of Israel were complaining in the presence of the LORD about the hardships they were facing in the wilderness (Numbers 11:1). The LORD was angry with them and brought a judgment of fire upon them but Moses interceded for the people and the LORD relented. Then the rabble began to complain about the lack of good food. They longed for the fish and vegetables they were able to have in Egypt and whined about the fact that all they had was the miraculous manna God was providing for them! Soon all the people were crying out and wailing about the hardships of their lives.

This was hard on Moses. He spoke to 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 forefathers? 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, put me to death right now… (Numbers 11:11-15).

Moses was bold. He spoke his heart and mind to God. I can understand his position. Everyone was looking to him to provide for them and he felt the unbelievable burden of having to take care of all these people. It would be enough to kill a man or at least drive him insane! By the way, do you see the parallel between what Moses said to God and what the disciples said to Jesus when he told them to feed the 5,000? Moses said, “Where can I get meat for all these people?” The disciples asked God’s Son, “Where will we buy food for these people to eat?” In both situations God was about to do something powerfully amazing!

But God had a plan for Moses and his leadership crisis. 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 of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone (Numbers 11:16, 17).

Moses had the burden of serving well over a million people. He needed help and God provided it by giving seventy elders the Holy Spirit who enabled them to lead in a godly manner. Most pastors have no more than a few hundred people for whom they are responsible. But in his wisdom God has made it plain that the pastor is not to shepherd his people alone. He is to have elders; leaders who are filled with the Holy Spirit who will help him lead the people and who will carry the burden of ministry with him. It is foolish for a pastor to try to lead a church without Spirit-filled elders. Even a small church can be a great burden; a burden great enough to crush his spirit and cause him to burn out. Even Moses, a man of great faith, cried out to God because the burden of leadership was too great for him. Am I arrogant enough to think I don’t need the same kind of help from the Lord?


At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Sean Nemecek said...

Any suggestions on how to convince a small church that multiple elders are necessary?

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...


I feel your pain! Although Sawyer wasn't as small as Tustin, I had the same problem trying to get multiple eldership there too. It took lots and lots of teaching and lots and lots of time. Once some of the younger guys were finally put into leadership the boulder started to roll downhill. Keep working with your younger guys and they will very likely come around. Then they will be the ones talking to their parents and speaking in the church meetings. All you need to do is convince a few of the younger guys of the necessity of a multiplicity of elders and the boulder will begin to move...maybe just a little but that's all you need! Hang in there brother! You are a faithful servant!

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Craver Vii said...

I am so glad that our church has a thought-out process for appointing elders. When our (currently serving) elders identify a man who might fit the biblical qualifications, they assign an elder/mentor and go through a textbook and workbook on Biblical Eldership (Alexander Strauch). If the prospective elder's family is supportive, they submit a questionnaire, and then go for an interview and a vote from the elders.

Since my denomination is congregational, we have the church members vote to approve, but I still see this as an elder appointment.

At my last church, the process was less formal. It was easy for an elder to be just an influential Christian businessman rather than a shepherd and guardian of sound doctrine. :-(

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Craver Vii said...

I meant to include that the process takes at least months, but sometimes more than a year.

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...


I'm somewhat familiar with your church and I admire the way you handle the development and appointment of elders. I think it is wise to start the process of discipling men for leadership very early on. Some will demonstrate a special giftedness and be appointed as elders and they will be well-prepared. Those who don't aspire to eldership will be better disciples and servers in the church for having the discipleship training. It is very important that the congregation see candidates for eldership as spiritual leaders rather than men who have been successful in business!


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