Note 3.1 Purpose Matters Exodus 19:1-25
Purpose is the foundational touchpoint of effectiveness. . .the “why” of any organization.
Purpose is the focus, inspiration, and directional compass that guides the energies and application of resources. Clarity of purpose. . .understanding it, expression of it, commitment to it, and constant promotion of it within the organization directs and compels mission, the description of organizational action. . .what it does and how it is done.
With clear purpose, an entity will thrive beyond the vision of its founders through unlimited generations to follow. . . businesses, nations, colleges, cities, families, organizations. . .you will know of a few. With only a little thought, you can identify the purpose that carried that effectiveness forward.
A present danger in many organizations is focus upon “doing” with little attention to “why" it is being done. An organization without clear purpose or one that has lost its grip on purpose is destined to become an ineffective drifting hulk that disappears from history. You know several in that category.
Just over two months after leaving Egypt, Moses and the people-Israel arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai. . .the place upon which Moses first received God’s assignment.
Moses was fully aware that God had done exactly what He said in securing release from Egypt, providing every need along the two-month trek, and leading the people to that exact spot. It was time for the leader to receive God’s mission brief for the next part of the journey. Exodus 19:3-4.
In the clear two-way communication between God and Moses that was the hallmark of Moses’ effectiveness, God unveiled the purpose statement for a group of people who would become a nation and impact generations of people reaching into our own time and into your life and mine.
That purpose is in Exodus 19:5-6. . .”Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. . .” My paraphrase: the purpose of Israel is to reintroduce the world to its Creator.
Here are Moses’ lessons on purpose.
• Purpose is discovered within a relationship with God and His plan, not apart from it.
• Effectiveness of purpose is conditioned upon recognition of God’s action and continual commitment to His way.
• The impact of clear God-directed purpose is long and powerful.
How powerful is God’s stated purpose for Israel? It reached from that moment to this. As a follower of Jesus, you are a beneficiary of it.
So, why does your organization exist? Answer that through your two-way communication with Jesus, and you will find its purpose.
Test it. Write it. Talk it. Purpose is the foundational touchpoint of organizational effectiveness and the first and greatest responsibility of a leader. Purpose matters.
Note 3.2 Purpose Defines Mission Exodus 20:1-21
Having conducted the rescue from slavery in Egypt and led the people safely to Mt. Sanai, God ordered Moses to make camp at the foot of the mountain. There they would stay for a year as Moses, under the direct instruction of God, conducted mission definition and training.
God’s purpose had been identified. They were to be God’s “own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth, His kingdom of priests, His holy nation. . .” In other words, this unruly rabble of former slaves were to become the conduit through which the rest of the world would come to know God. Exodus 19:5-6.
Purpose, the “Why,” always defines mission, the “How.” In the case of this unique “holy nation,” the mission is simply summarized. . .Keep God first. That point is hammered home in four pointed statements delivered to the people by God through Moses.
Here are the four parameters of mission for ancient Israel. You know them as the opening directives of the ten commandments.
You will have no other god of any kind in your life.
You will not make or adopt an idol of any kind.
You will not worship anything or anyone other than God.
You will not misuse the name of God or handle it lightly. Exodus 20:2-7.
It is written in Exodus as a series of pointed "don't" statements. Jesus summarized it positively. “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Matthew 22:37.
Here is Israel’s organizational design.
Our purpose: Conduct all peoples of the world to God.
Our mission: We will fulfill purpose by ensuring the primacy of God in all things at all times. He directs. We follow. He handles the results.
Sound familiar? It is the purpose and mission Jesus assigns to you as his follower.
John 15:5 – Purpose
“. . .I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
Matthew 28:19 - Mission
“. . .go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
As Moses represented God’s expectation to the organization he was charged to lead, so you have responsibility to do the same. Wait. . .you lead a business, not a church. You make and sell widgets not Sunday school materials. Your interface with employees and customers must relate to widgets. Your purpose and mission must direct the manufacture, sale, and service of the best widgets in the world attracting ever wider circles of satisfied customers and developing profits that reward your investors and employees.
Exactly. So, where is the link to Moses and Israel? The link is Jesus in you. Ask Him how he wants widgets made and sold. Ask Him how he wants you to use the influence and resources with which He entrusts you. Then listen and respond as He directs. He will show you how your widgets relate to His purpose.
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how…”
Note 3.3 The Most Important Act of Leadership Exodus 24:1-18
The year spent at Mt. Sinai was a critical training period as the mass of people gained purpose and identity as the nation uniquely God’s own among the many nations throughout the history of the world. It was a year of change, order, and discovery for the people.
Their organizational experience compares to a business undergoing the type of transformation necessary when purpose drives change in the face of a radically changing market. Practices and procedures, once effective, are found inadequate to fulfill purpose in a new market environment. It is a “change or die” situation requiring courage and trust among employees and particular courage and wisdom in the leader.
Through that year, Moses in the role of leader/priest, managed the issues natural to a large group of people undergoing dramatic change whose welfare and survival was completely dependent upon his ability to make right decisions.
You know that pressure.
The daily close communication with God so rich and so central to Moses’ effectiveness needed reinforcement. . . “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to meet me on the mountain. Plan on staying a while. There is something I need to show you.’” Exodus 24:12
God initiated specific extended one-on-one time with His appointed leader. For Moses, it was forty days with God at the top of a mountain. Exodus 24:15-18. For me, it took various forms through the years but there were common factors in those times of personal restoration, healing, rest, strength building, and spiritual refreshment. . .
a series of days
a remote place
surrounded by raw creation, for me it was woods and mountains
in the presence of my Lord
You are a leader. You know the pressure of getting it right. More important, you are a follower of Christ. He is your source of restoration, wisdom, courage, and strength. Everything about your effectiveness is dependent upon the quality of your relationship with Him.
Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. May it be so with you.
It is your most important act of leadership.
Note 3.4 A Special Residence Exodus 25:1–30:38
A great deal of specific and detailed instruction from God to Moses is recorded in the section of Exodus noted above. It has to do with God’s plan to establish His presence among the people; where He would be found; how He was to be honored; and how the system of honoring Him was to be managed. It is an essential next step in the organization of the people.
Up to that point, God dealt only with Moses personally allowing the people to observe those interactions from a distance. Now we watch His instruction to His appointed leader to close the distance between Himself and His chosen people . . . to be among them. Exodus 25:8.
A key element in establishing God’s presence is a portable building called “Tabernacle.” The term refers to a dwelling place and stems from a word describing a place that will be inhabited and into which the inhabitant will settle in and remain. Exodus 25:9. Plans for its assembly were intricate, specific, and opulent. Moses was to ensure that it was exactly how God directed it, not how Moses or anyone else thought it should be. From God’s residence among them would come His influence upon them.
You are the leader of an organization or a business. As such, it is necessary that you envision big and think long . . . purpose, mission, strategy, tactics. But, when you boil it down to basics, you lead and influence people . . . employees and customers, individuals with skills, thoughts, hopes, and needs. If you are to realize the purpose, you must see to the welfare of those whose actions will achieve it. In addition to administering the daily functions of the organization, Moses was responsible for the spiritual welfare of the people God assigned him to lead, so are you.
Hold it a minute. Do not leave this article thinking you will build a church in the parking lot or convert an office into a prayer chapel and somehow fulfill the responsibility. The tabernacle story does not connect that way. The question is, how will you influence and encourage the spiritual development of people. The answer is, with a tabernacle . . . the place where God resides.
Here is a clue. 1 Corinthians 3:16 – “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?”
When you believed Jesus, He moved into your heart, your tabernacle . . . that place in your being where spirit, will, and thought join under the influence of His Spirit. Let me put a sharper point on that. Your responsibility as a believer is to submit control of your will, thought, and behavior to God in you. When you live that way, people notice and make personal decisions based upon what they see in you.
The story of Moses and God among the people is a look forward to right now and His offer to live in us. The leadership influence option is not about directing others to a tabernacle in which they may observe God. Rather, it is about leading them by your example and encouragement to become a tabernacle in which they may experience Him.
You see, it is not as simple as urging folk to go to church. It is about the influence of your God-directed self, exercised directly and indirectly, loving them toward God—toward His love, His forgiveness, His restoration, His provision, His way to do life . . . to effective living.
Note 3.5 The Right People in the Right Place Exodus 31:1-6
Construction of the tabernacle was an intricate process. The specifications were exacting, and the skills required to craft to those specifications were refined. Moses was clear on the expectation, but he needed the right people to pull it off. Exodus 31:7-11.
I have continually noted the constant one-on-one communication with God that was the hallmark of Moses’ leadership. Over the months since leaving the burning bush encounter, Moses learned that when God directed an action, He always provided the wherewithal to fulfill it.
That may be the most important concept of leadership to be grasped from these notes . . . God provides what He requires. That includes providing the right people at the right time in the right place to perform the right work.
Please meet Bezalel and Oholiab. Exodus 31:2-4. Exodus 31:6. You will read about these two men only here. Pay particular attention to what God told Moses about them.
“I have specifically chosen . . .”
“I have filled him with my Spirit . . . wisdom, ability, expertise. . .”
“I have personally appointed . . .”
“I have given skill . . . “
These special men with special skills provided by God according to His purpose were part of the mass of people who had traversed out of Egypt, but they were heretofore unknown to Moses. God tasked Moses to construct the tabernacle and introduced him to an exceptionally intricate plan, then He identified the craftsmen He had already equipped to do the job.
Here is the lesson of Bezalel and Oholiab. Your primary responsibility as leader of an organization is to maintain constant contact with Jesus. His Spirit in you will guide you in everything He intends. That will often include assignments that are beyond your ability to perform. You will need a person or persons with experience and skill beyond your own.
As you are in constant communication with Him, He directs you to exactly the right person to do the job. That one may be inside your organization or external from it, but God’s Spirit will cause you to know the one He has appointed.
You will go through due diligence processes in employing or contracting the individual, but the affirmation from God will carry you through the process.
Remember . . . God provides what He requires. Your only job is to listen and follow.
Note 3.6 The Intercessor - Crisis Intervention Exodus 32:7-14
This segment of Exodus describes a period during which Moses was absent for five weeks on a personal retreat with God. In his absence, unsettledness arose stirred by a group of opinion leaders who raised doubts about what God was doing and the authority of Moses’ leadership.
You may have some of the same type in your organization. These are individuals who simply will not commit to the organization’s purpose and are often discovered to have sown seeds of doubt among coworkers as they offer their own opinion on leadership and how things should be done.
In this case, those opinion leaders crossed a line that had been clearly delineated and their disrupting influence spread through the entire organization. Exodus 20:22-26. God’s response to the disobedience was clear and forceful. Exodus 32:10.
Our interest is with Moses and his handling of a serious crisis. I see three acts that serve as examples for your leadership.
Go to God. Moses interceded with God on behalf of the people. Exodus 32:11-13. Was he angry? You bet. Yet this leader put himself on the line before God seeking God’s mercy, patience, promise, and wisdom of intervention for the very people who were still in the process of rebellion.
It was his first action in the organizational remediation process. I suggest it be yours, first and always. Go to God immediately, even as you are running into the middle of the trouble.
Be personally present.
Moses interrupted his planned agenda immediately and returned to deal with the matter. Upon arrival, he assessed the situation and physically entered the fray. Not only was Moses personally present, he was personally involved as a first responder taking action to interrupt the demonstration. Exodus 32:19-20.
A crisis that threatens the very purpose of your organization cannot be handled through delegation or distance. You must be present and seen by your employees taking decisive action. That action will be directed by God based upon your having been with Him first.
Interrupt causal factors.
Moses took extreme action to identify his allies and permanently remove the instigators from any access or further influence upon the organization. Exodus 32:26-29.
The effectiveness of your business is centered upon the organization’s awareness of and full commitment to its purpose. The presence of individuals who cannot or will not make that commitment must ultimately be addressed. In the case of Moses and the pagan activity, it required extreme action.
Your situation will be handled with similar determination but with established human resource procedures that guide separation of individual employees from the organization. The result is the same. You must interrupt behaviors that threaten the purpose.
Your role as a leader places you in the front of every situation. In most cases, you can direct and delegate solutions. However, there are times when you must be seen and heard. This was one of those times for Moses. His constant communication with God prepared him for effective and appropriate action.
May it be so with you.
Three things are clear in a look at Moses’ leadership through the lens of Exodus. First, his preparation. . .he was raised into adulthood as a king’s son. As such, he was trained in the art of warfare and leadership. He knew the characteristics of an army from a general’s position. Second, his authority. . .he was the assigned agent of God. Effectiveness in negotiation, leadership, and crisis intervention all came from his constant one-on-one communication with God. Third, his obedience. . .
the role of obedience to God by Moses and by the people was essential in the formation of organizational purpose and nation-building (see Note 3.1).
Now rises an essential fourth characteristic of Moses’ effective leadership that will be seen at work through the rest of his time in the assignment. Moses was an intercessor before God on behalf of the people. We touched on that as he interceded in a crisis. Now look at his proactive intercession.
Intercession is the act of a trusted third-party intervening with one entity or person on behalf of another, usually appealing to one in a position of strength for benefit or mercy for one in a position of weakness.
The key to effective intercession is a relationship of trust. Look at Exodus 33:11, “the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Moses experienced a unique unhindered relationship with God initiated and fostered by God according to His purpose. In the strength and grace of the unique relationship of trust, Moses appealed to God to forgive the people and to continue His purpose for them. Exodus 33:13-17.
You are a follower of Christ. At the moment you believed, the Spirit of God took residence in your heart. . .that piece of your being in which your will, your mind, and your spirit intersect. Thus, you have opportunity to experience an ongoing unique unhindered relationship with God.
You are also the leader of an organization of people. . .a family, a business, an entity, a community. Because of these two great responsibilities, following Christ and leading people, you have the authority and opportunity to intercede with God on behalf of the organization you lead, seeking His grace, His protection, His blessing, His power, His healing, His love for them.
Imagine what God might do through such a leader as you if intercession became a priority of your leadership.
Moses did. God answered. Exodus 34:8-10.
May it be so with you.
Note 3.8 Precision Exodus 34:10 through the end of Leviticus
God’s purpose for the people was that they become a nation through which the rest of the world would come to know Him. Exodus 19:5-6. That purpose drove everything we have examined in the actions and leadership of Moses as he was directly instructed, enabled, and empowered by God through a dynamic one-on-one relationship.
According to that purpose, through that relationship, in and by God’s power and miraculous provision . . . Moses, under determined resistance, effectively led the people out of Egypt; conducted them through a desert to a safe encampment; organized them into a structured operational society; and transitioned them from pagan ways of thought. As the narrative of Exodus concludes and continues through the entirety of Leviticus, Moses introduced the people to the expectations of God and prepared them for movement into a land that would become their inherited national home.
Note two things. First, in this enormous amount of Biblical text, the narrative slows down into very specific detailed description of God’s expectations regarding how He was to be engaged by the people…structures, systems, place, and manner of worship. Second, note the exacting precision with which Moses followed those instructions. Exodus 34:10-11. Exodus 40:16.
The massive amount of detail regarding the worship of God and the precision of Moses’ implementation is evidence of purpose driven importance. These people and their heirs were to become the national conduit through which God became known to the world. It was essential that separation from pagan thought and complete obedience to God be achieved if that purpose is to be fulfilled. Thus, a very strong Biblical point is made to that effect.
So, what does this have to do with your role as a leader? Your organization’s purpose may not rise to that assigned to Israel, but your leadership to effective discovery and implementation of purpose is informed by both the serious expectations of God and the determined obedient response by Moses to those expectations.
You are a follower of Jesus . . . an heir of Israel. The Scripture is clear that He expects your responsive obedience in every area of your life . . . specifically including your profession. The dynamic relationship with God . . . the presence and power of God . . . was the key to Moses’ understanding of God's expectations, his precise obedient response, and his effective leadership. As it was with Moses, so it may be with you.
If you have questions about all this, take some time with “The Follower’s Position” linked on this site.
Make it so.