When The Going Gets Tough – Free Leadership Lesson Thursday

No one promised that leadership would be easy – and if they did, they were lying.

The fact is, leadership is extremely difficult, and if it’s difficulty isn’t enough, you don’t always succeed.  You often fail, lose, or suffer setbacks.  Anyone who has led for any amount of time can tell you this for certain.  We learn – and grow, in defeat.  Often, it’s the lessons of a thousand failures that brings “success.”

Sadly, many people go into leadership thinking that it’s somehow easier work than most have.  How can telling people what to do be hard anyway?  These folks are in for a real surprise.

Leadership is messy even on it’s best day.  People are messy, and so are projects.  The best plans are great, seamless things written out on pieces of paper in cute little rooms where real life doesn’t intrude – but put those plans into effect outside of those walls, and the trouble starts almost immediately.


Exodus 5:22-23

Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”  (Exodus 5:22-23 ESV)


The Point:

God often uses difficult situations to teach us and continue His Kingdom work.  In other words; don’t expect everything to be easy just because you are being obedient to God.


The Objective:

To get your students talking about those places in their Christian walk where they think they have failed and succeeded.

To remind your students that God’s idea of success and failure are different than the society around them.

To explain that God doesn’t make everything easy just because you are being obedient.

To teach your students that God works through difficult times to shape and grow them, using Moses’ first experience of failure with Pharaoh as an example.



Teach It:

Moses’ task may have been monumental, but he went – and did – as God told him to.  Moses marched right up to Pharaoh and laid it all down – and Pharaoh laughed at him.  Not only that, but to make sure this Hebrew troublemaker would shut up, Pharaoh made the Israelites work harder – trying to make sure that the people would blame Moses.

Moses must have been devastated.  He was obedient, and it didn’t work.  In fact, it became worse.  Now the very people that Moses came to set free were in a worse place because of Moses.

Moses did the only thing he knew to do:  He turned to God and asked the big question:  WHY?


Discussion Questions

Have you ever had anything go really wrong?  Have you ever had anything backfire and hurt other people?  How did it feel?  What did you do?

Do you think Moses‘ question to God was appropriate?  Is it appropriate to question God?

Have You Ever Asked God “Why?”



It was more than Moses had planned for.  Despite his initial misgivings and excuses, I think Moses went into Egypt thinking that he would state his case, do a couple of miracles, and a very smart Pharaoh would not want to mess with a God of such power, letting the Israelites go as Moses asked for.

Things didn’t go to plan, as they often don’t, and all those things that Moses had told God would come to pass if He sent Moses seemed ready to come to pass.  Pharaoh wasn’t listening, and Moses was a nobody – less than a nobody now; because Pharaoh had taken out his displeasure of Moses on the whole people group of Israel.


Discussion Questions

Have you ever thought something was going to be extremely easy, only to have it turn out to be tremendously difficult?  Talk about it.  How did you react?  Were you angry?  Who with?

Did you give up?

How could God use a difficult process to shape people?  How did God do this with other Bible characters that you may know?  Has He ever done this with you?


When it came down to it, Moses was angry with God, and he tried to turn on God His own stated purpose:  to set his people free from Egyptian oppression.  Often when we believe that we’re doing God’s work and things go wrong, we get angry.  Isn’t this what God wanted?  Isn’t this what He asked me to do?  Why would He give me failure?

Unbeknownst to him, Moses didn’t have the full picture.  God had decided to defeat and utterly humiliate a bunch of gods in the Egyptian pantheon through a series of ten plagues He planned to unleash.  But to do that, God was going to need Pharaoh to be obstinate and Moses to be patient.

The fact is that, like Moses, we don’t usually have the whole picture.  Those in the Bible that practiced radical obedience very often experienced what the world would consider dismal failures, even though it’s exactly what God planned and needed to continue or finish His work.  We need to practice the same radical obedience and let the chips fall where they may.  We need to have a Kingdom Perspective about “failure” and “success” instead of a perspective prescribed by our society which is bent on gain and power.


Discussion Questions

Where do you need to be radically obedient today?

What “failure” in your life do you need to look at from a Kingdom Perspective?

How do you need to change your mind about what “success” is?

About Matt Gooch

Christ Follower, Husband to Brandy, and Executive Director of Next in Line Ministries. My true passion is leadership development for teenagers. I love to read, write, hike, and spend time with my family.

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