Tag Archives: Serve

My Inheritance

My Inheritance (CaD Jos 13) Wayfarer

But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the food offerings presented to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.
Joshua 13:14 (NIV)

I worked many different jobs earning my way through college back in the day. One of the more fascinating jobs was as an abstractor. An abstract is a legal document that provides the description and history of a plot of land. The abstract gets continually updated whenever something legal happens to that land such as changing ownership, a tax lien placed against the property, a mortgage, or a release of that mortgage. It’s full of legalese, but an abstract can provide fascinating tidbits about the history of a property.

In today’s chapter, we enter a section of the book of Joshua that served as a kind of ancient abstract for the twelve Hebrew tribes as the Promised Land was divided and each tribe was assigned a section of land. It’s about as spiritually inspiring as, well, reading an abstract. However, just as with an abstract, there are some worthwhile tidbits amidst all the legalese.

The abstract of the Promised Land begins in today’s chapter with what is essentially an ancient form of the legal description of the lands east of the River Jordan that had been assigned by Moses at the request of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh. It’s formally structured and begins with a summary description of the land given to those two-and-a-half tribes. It then provides a description of each tribe’s allotted land.

The thing that stands out is that in verses 13 and 44, the tribe of Levi is reminded that they will not be allotted any land. God assigned the tribe of Levi to serve all of the tribes by serving the Temple and being God’s spiritual servants among all the tribes. The offerings and sacrifices of the 11 other tribes provided the Levites with their life’s provision, but never would they have an earthly plot of land to call their own. As verse 33 puts it: “the LORD, the God of Israel, is their inheritance.”

What struck me as I mulled this over in the quiet this morning, is the fact that the Levitical design will be expanded by Jesus. During His earthly ministry, Jesus instructed His followers to spiritually live like the tribe of Levi:

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being…

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matthew 6:19-21;31-32 (MSG)

Like the Levites, followers of Jesus were dispersed throughout the entire world to serve God, to be focused on the matters of Spirit, and to trust God for their provision. As the old-timey gospel song put it: “This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.”

As a follower of Jesus, I am a spiritual descendant of the Levites. My treasure, my spiritual inheritance, doesn’t have an earthly abstract or legal description. Jesus said He would go and prepare a place for me. As the author of Hebrews put it: “For here [on earth] we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”

In the meantime, just like the Levites, I serve God where I’m planted, wherever I go, and wherever I might be scattered.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

Leadership and Rabble Cravings

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!
Numbers 11:4 (NIV)

Throughout my life journey I’ve had the privilege of serving in numerous leadership positions from small groups to decent sized organizations. Leading others can be both a joy and a curse and it is almost always a challenge. When you step into the spotlight of leadership you immediately become an easy target.

This morning as I started reading the chapter I immediately laughed to myself. We just read at the end of yesterday’s chapter that the Hebrew tribes had finally embarked on their journey through the wilderness to the promised land.  We’re only four verses into journey and people are complaining. Not only are there complaints, but I found it humorous that the author describes the complainers as “rabble” driven by their “cravings.”

Complaints are part of the territory for any leader. Sometimes the complaints are well-founded and point to critical needs that need to be contemplated and addressed by leadership. There are also complaints that arise from disgruntled members whose focus is less about the vision, mission, or good of the whole and more about their individual felt needs and self-centric perceptions. When you’re busy trying to lead a major group effort, these grumblers can be maddeningly frustrating to manage. They drove Moses to such madness that he asked God to kill him rather than have to deal with them. Even God’s reply sounds like an exasperated parent dealing with whining children:

“Tell the people, Consecrate yourselves. Get ready for tomorrow when you’re going to eat meat. You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat. We had a better life in Egypt.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until it’s coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it.”

I’m reminded of whiners and complainers I’ve had the opportunity to manage over the years. I confess that the word “rabble” seems an apt moniker in some cases. In every case, however, I have to recognize that they were/are not evil individuals or bad people. I think today’s chapter is a great object lesson in the fact that whiners and complainers are often individuals discomforted by their own felt needs. These poorly managed inner cravings get expressed as tantrum-like complaints and childish demands that steal leaders’ time, energy, and attention away from more important matters.

This morning I’m encouraged by the truth that Moses, and it appears even God Himself, can reach a point of exasperation. I’m reminded that more than once Jesus expressed exasperation (i.e. “How long shall I put up with you?” Lk 9:41). When I as a leader experience craving-driven whines I am in good company.

I’m also reminded this morning that listening to and addressing complaints is part of every leader’s job description. It comes with the territory and being a good leader means managing complaints, including the craving-driven whines of self-centered rabble. Jesus said if you want to be a good leader you have to be a good servant, even to those can be frustrating and distracting.

God, grant me wisdom, patience and grace in the positions of leadership to which I have been called. Help me to serve well, love well, and lead well – even in my periods of utter exasperation.

featured photo courtesy of Tamara via Flickr