May 10

"As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  Exodus 14:10-12

I want to share yet another trait of a good leader demonstrated by one of the all-time best, Moses.

A good leader follows God, a good leader doesn't panic, a good leader inspires hope, a good leader points to the pillar, and a good leader knows who the enemy is and who it isn't.

We have established that the people of God found themselves in a very precarious spot. Moses, still earning the respect of his followers had led them into a strategically indefensible position. But he had the assurance of knowing God had led him there. Not all of them had figured that out.

Anyone who ever serves in a leadership position will be well served to learn to distinguish between critics and enemies. Leaders who don't know how to discern enemies from critics will have plenty of both. Not every critic is an enemy but misunderstanding that or mishandling them can convert critics into enemies.

Moses knew the difference between his enemy and his critics. His enemy was out to destroy him while his critics just disagreed with him. A leader knows enemies must be defeated while critics usually just needed to be convinced or confronted. when a leader deals with and defeats the real enemy, many of his critics become convinced of his leadership are won over.

Critics direct their objections and concerns at the leader while an enemy is one who actively opposes the aim and agenda of God. A godly person can be a critic of a leader who also seeks to follow God. But I can't think of a godly person who opposes God.

As a long-time leader I have had plenty of critics but very few enemies. Many of my critics have become close friends over time. In my experience, my harshest critic and worst enemy dwells within me. Selfishness, pride, self-promotion, fear, envy, and all manner of negative emotions have sought to defeat me as a leader. Self-doubt, perfectionism, and feelings of inadequacy have caused me to be critical of my own leadership.

Leaders face daunting challenges dealing with criticism within in order to properly handle criticism directed at them. And godly leaders must overcome the enemies of their soul and spirit to give them clarity in recognizing real enemies from without.

Moses overcome most of his inner battles in front of the burning bush and the Pharaoh, so he was ready to have clarity to discern between critics and the true enemy.

If you are a leader and you struggle discerning between critics and enemies, start within yourself. Have you confronted the enemy within? Have you defeated it?

Listen to criticism and learn from it. An honest critic can be of infinitely more value to you than an uncritical supporter.

If you are not a leader, pray for your leader at this point. Encourage your leader often. Defend your leader against his critics. Stand with him against the enemies of faith. When you find yourself in disagreement with your leader, lovingly and respectfully share your concerns.

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