Nu 27:15-16 “And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
Our prayers are often way too shortsighted. Nowhere is this manifested more than in the context of leadership transitions. A godly leader, such as meek Moses, must always be praying not only for their own areas of influence but the influencers who will outlive and out lead them. This will become one of the most enriched or impoverished aspects of the leader’s ultimate legacy.
(By the way, this prayer include transitions that don’t involve death but just the handing off of responsibilities as we expand or cut back.)
Moses and Aaron had disqualified themselves from entering the land of promise when they had failed to honor the Lord by striking the rock at Meribah in the Desert of Zin (Nu. 20:12). Aaron had already died (Nu. 20:27–29), but the Lord now allowed Moses a glimpse of Canaan from afar. From the summit of a mountain in the Abarim range he beheld the vista to the west. This mountain was Nebo (De. 32:49), just across from Jericho. Rather than lapsing into self-pity as a lesser man might have done, Moses expressed his concern to God that Israel have a great leader to take his place.
Here are three ways that prayer helps us delegate more effectively for the long haul:
Pray for the next leader to be examined and affirmed by the omniscient God. (16)
As Moses winds down his era of leaders, notice His prayerful dependence upon the Lord. He implored the “God of the spirits of all flesh” to select this leader. This unusual title of God (occurring only here and in Nu. 16:22) refers to God’s omniscient understanding of everyone, which guaranteed the wisdom of His choice. Despite all the stupendous miracles and monumental moments that Moses had overseen, he refused to make this epic decision without the Lord’s insight.
Without prayer, it is very likely that you will hand over influence and authority to the well-profiled but wrong person! As the great but sight-based prophet Samuel learned, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sa. 16:7). The Lord alone can “try hearts” and guide a present leader to select with impeccable anticipation who should lead God’s people and work into the future.
Pray for the next leader to have the profile of a shepherd. (17)
Hebrew frequently uses antonyms like “go out” and “go in” to express totality. Joshua would be the man who could see them through everything. Moses had just been reminded that he would not enter the land because of his sin over “the waters of Meribah” in Kadesh. But Moses’ spirit was like that of Christ, who without self-pity, though rejected and facing Calvary, was moved with compassion for the multitude and saw them as sheep having no shepherd (Mt. 9:36). Moses was a faithful intercessor for the people of Israel and that included in the area of his eventual replacement-even if it was earlier (no Promised Land entrance) than he personally preferred.
The best intercessors are those who don’t make it all about themselves. Sanctified prayer enables you to hand over responsibilities to an individual who is not poised to perpetually memorialize you or the past but serve God’s people into the future. Ultimately leaders are servants. If God’s people are sheep, then their servant-leader must be willing to be not a celebrity but a shepherd! Supplication toward heaven alone can help you pick up on that heart in someone else.
Pray for the next leader to receive from you what is necessary for success. (18-23)
The Lord’s response was immediate: take Joshua the son of Nun. This Spirit-filled man, who had already demonstrated his qualities and capabilities (Ex. 17:8–10; 24:13; 33:11; Nu. 11:28–29; 14:30, 38), was an ideal successor to Moses. His appointment must be public, however, so the community would know Joshua was entitled to the same respect as Moses and was to have some of Moses’ authority. After Moses laid his hand on him thus commissioning him, Joshua was to stand before Eleazar the priest to symbolize the relationship that the two would enjoy from then on—Eleazar would reveal the will of God through the Urim (Ex. 28:30) and Joshua would carry out God’s directives. Unlike Moses who talked directly with the Lord, Joshua would depend upon the use of the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30) by Eleazar the priest.
Please note that part of God’s answer to the prayerful delegation of power is, like with Moses, YOU! Only through prayer, can the current leader truly share, in public, not only his authority but “some of his honor.” This will eliminate any rumors or false narratives about a power struggle between the aging leader and the emerging leader. Those who are high-impact leaders have learned how to let go of their ego and truly give every advantage to those who come after them to be highly successful.
What is often referred to as the “art of delegation” is less about what you say to the next generation and more about what you say to God. Only through prayer can the testimony of our life, family, church, and organization be maintained and actually expanded during the transition of power. Mark my words-the spiritual leaders that you observe to be skilled delegators are first prayer warriors. As I recently read, “It’s rude not to respond when someone has spoken to you. That’s what prayerlessness is.” Everything you know and have as a leader has been given to you by God, be sure to respond with prayer to pay it forward. It is a matter of stewardship! The area of leadership that ends with prayer lives on in the people who embody God’s hand-picked answer to that prayer.