Tag Archives: Numbers 29

Preparing for Leadership Change

Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord commanded him.
Numbers 29:40 (NIV)

For almost a quarter century my vocation has afforded me the opportunity to work with a number of businesses of all shapes and sizes around the globe. I’ve worked with small, family owned firms and giant global corporations. Finance, retail, telecommunications, insurance, manufacturing, and you name it. It continues to be a fascinating journey.

One of the observations I’ve made along my tenure is that every company’s culture flows out of the executive suite. Even in publicly traded companies and global conglomerates I observe that the leader’s personality, values, and priorities ripple through the organization. Positively or negatively, employees become acclimated to this corporate culture. It becomes the culture they know and are used to working within. When there is a change in leadership, there is always a wave of anxiety that courses through the company.

The transfer of leadership can be a tenuous and troubling period for any group of people. This is especially true with charismatic, larger-than-life leaders who build large organizations over a long period of time. Perhaps no one in the history of humanity fits that description better than Moses.

One of the realities that made me scratch my head when I first began reading God’s Message as a young person was the repetition. In the past few chapters of the book of Numbers we have a repetition of the description of prescribed feast days and festivals that God has given through Moses which were already described in the book of Leviticus. Why repeat it all over again?

As we near the end of Numbers Moses is nearing the end of his tenure as Patriarch and leader of the Hebrew tribes. He led their rescue from slavery in Egypt. He led them out of Egypt. He led them to Sinai where God prescribed through Moses the law, rituals, and traditions that gave their fledgling nation identity, organization, and order. He has been leading them through the wilderness to the land God had promised. He is old and a transfer of leadership is about to begin. Joshua will soon take the mantle of leadership. Believe me when I tell you that anxiety is rippling through the Hebrew nation. Even Moses, arguably the greatest leader in history, has got to be feeling it himself.

Are they ready? Is Joshua ready? How are they going to manage? Are they going to be okay? Will they succeed without me?

And what to good leaders do when they’re transferring leadership of the organization they’ve loved and served? They prepare the team for the transition.

And how do you prepare an organization for the leadership change? You remind them of the things that are important to remember.

While Numbers is right next to Leviticus in the Bible, it was written many years apart at completely different times and occasions. In today’s chapter, Moses is reminding Joshua and the nation of the things that are important for them to remember by repeating for them the outline of prescribed sacrifices, festivals, and feast days.

This morning I’m mulling over some transitions I’ve recently experienced and am experiencing in my own personal world. As a leader I want to be mindful of how my personality, values, and priorities affect the people under my leadership and the organizational culture that results. I want it to be positive. Likewise, I’m reminded this morning that good leaders prepare the people they serve, as best they can, for transitions of leadership. That includes reminding people of the important things they need to remember.

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 29

“Sacrifice these to God as a congregation at your set feasts: your Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, Drink-Offerings, and Peace-Offerings. These are all over and above your personal Vow-Offerings and Freewill-Offerings.” Numbers 29:39 (MSG)

It’s been interesting for me to spend specific times at the lake this summer with children of different ages. It’s amazing to see how kids act and react in the different stages of life from infant to toddler to tweens to teens. For adults and parents, each stage has its blessings and each stage has its curses. As I interacted with all the children in their various stages, I found myself trying to create teaching moments when the opportunity arose.

This past weekend we were at the lake with some great young kids who, nonetheless, found themselves bored and ended up whining about it. During one of these moments I saw a big stack of laundered towels on the floor and I picked them up, asking our bored guest if he would take them down to the towel bin and put them away. There was a point to asking my young guest to do this. In fact, there were a couple of points I was subtly trying to communicate. First, if you’re bored enough to whine about it, we can certainly find something for you to do. Second, there is plenty of work that must be done to ensure that everyone has a good time at the lake and if you can participate in the fun things you can participate in the work, too.

As I read through today’s chapter and the dizzying list of offerings and sacrifices God prescribed for feast days (which was above and beyond those already prescribed), I’m reminded that there was a point He was trying to make with us His children. The point was that no human being can possibly sacrifice enough, offer enough, or do enough to achieve the status of being good enough to be acceptable for God. The impossible system of sacrifices was a giant word picture and object lesson to teach us that we can’t possibly do enough or be perfectly obedient enough to earn our salvation.

That’s why God sent Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world. God’s Message says it is by God’s grace and unmerited favor we are saved through placing our faith in Jesus, His sacrifice and resurrection. Salvation is not something we earned ourselves by keeping a system of sacrifices or doing enough good deeds to balance out the bad. Salvation is the gift of God, not the result of our human works or any good works we might think we can boast about. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Today, I’m thankful that I’m free from having to earn God’s favor, and I’m grateful for the sacrifice God made to set me free.