Have you ever heard of the big rocks in the jar metaphor? It’s a pretty simple life or leadership lesson. Here’s how it works. If you have a collection of larger rocks, pebbles and sand that should fit into a jar, you must start by placing the rocks into the jar first, then the pebbles, and the sand at the end. If you reverse the order the rocks won’t fit. The lesson is that if we focus too much time and energy on the little things as leaders we won’t be able to navigate the things that really matter.
When Moses led the nation of Israel through the desert after leaving Egypt he frequently had moments where the “rocks” didn’t fit into the jar. Numbers 11 records one of those instances where he pleads with God for help as the constant complaining of the Israelites was too great a burden.
The past several years have been very demanding on church leaders as they have sought to navigate a pandemic. Depending on where you are in the world, restrictions on gathering have constantly shifted in numerous ways. Pastors and others have been forced to interpret and enforce rules that have little to do with ministry or their training. Church members have looked to their pastors for decisive leadership in the midst of confusing times.
One Christian author and speaker has referred to this constant weight of decision making, along with the inevitable conflict from those who disagree, as mini traumas that add up and can lead to a breakdown. That is precisely what Moses experienced in the book of Numbers.
God responded to the pleading of his chosen leader by pouring his Spirit on other elders who could assist Moses. The latter part of verse 17 says, “They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.” Isn’t that the answer? God doesn’t ask us to carry a weight that is beyond our capacity - He offers strength and support that will carry us through.
Lord, I believe you have called me into the role I now fulfill. Give me the strength to carry on when I don’t feel like I can take one more step. Surround me with others who can help me.
Throughout This Day: Think about ways that you can offer your support to leaders in your life. Send them a note or call them and let them know you are praying for them.
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