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What’s Your Promised Land?

What’s your biggest leadership failure?

I wonder how Moses would answer that question. Imagine that you are Moses, spending time with God up on Mount Sinai, hearing about the law and getting instruction on God’s will for his people.

Now imagine coming down and seeing the people dancing around a golden calf, worshipping an image created for them—by your own brother—while you were spending time with God.

That is the definition of an epic fail.

Moses responds in anger—rightly so. And God punishes the people. But that’s not the end of the story.

God does not renege on his promise to give the people land. He does not send them back to Egypt.

Instead, God tells Moses that he will still give them the land, but he will not accompany them. They will receive the land, but they must give up God’s presence.

Try to imagine yourself hearing that news. God says that he will still give you what he has promised, but he won’t be with you. What would you say?

Moses is bold. He says to God, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” In other words, we don’t want the land if we can’t have you.

Now that is leadership. Spiritual leaders acknowledge that without God’s presence, nothing else matters. Without God’s presence, Moses doesn’t want the promised land.

With all that Moses and the people have been through already on their way to the promised land, Moses is willing to give it up if it means staying with God.

How about you? What are you willing to give up in order to experience God’s presence? What is your promised land—that result, that place, that accomplishment that you’ve been striving for? Are you willing to give it up in order to be with God?

Moses was. And I hope I would be. But far too often, I am focused more on results than on God’s presence. Maybe you are, too. But let’s take a lesson from Moses and cry out to God “Do not give me the land unless you go with me there.” I want you more than anything else. May it be so.

Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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