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Our world is full of leadership advice. A simple online search will result in an endless number of leadership resources. From TED Talks to TikTok, and everything in between. Just type “leadership” in your favorite podcast provider and see what comes up. It’s because we want practical strategies for becoming effective leaders. And for those of us who are pastors, we want to know how to lead the church that God has put in our care.

Leadership is important, but not all leadership advice is created equal. As Christians, we must be very careful where we’re getting our information. The advice you’ll get from the world is going to be much different than the advice you get from the Lord. In fact, the wisdom from the world is foolishness to God, and God’s wisdom seems foolish to the world (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). When it comes to leadership, God says it best:

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”[1]

So, what can we learn about God’s kind of leadership that will help us be better pastors and leaders? Good question! Let’s take a moment, add to the already massive mound of leadership content, and talk about one of my favorite leaders in the Bible: Moses.

Who made you a ruler and a judge over us?[2]

Within most Calvary Chapel congregations, we lead our churches using the “Moses Model” of church government.

I’m aware that there are different ways to lead a church and that some are better than others. It’s not my intention to go into detail on the different forms of church government. That’s an article for another time, and for a more academic mind.

For our purposes, we’ll just say that Moses is the guy that most Calvary Chapels pattern their church leadership after. In fact, it was the late great Pastor Chuck Smith that said,

“In the church today we see this structure (the Moses Model) in a modified form. We see that Jesus Christ is the Head over the body of the church. It’s His church. He’s the One in charge. As pastors, we need to be like Moses, in touch with Jesus and receiving His direction and guidance. As pastors we need to be leading the church in such a way that the people know that the Lord is in control.”[3]

Great! Jesus is the head of the church, and we need to be like Moses and get our direction from Him. So, if we’re supposed to be like Moses, we need to know what Moses was like.

Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.[4]

I think that one of the main differences between the leadership style of the world and that of the church is the issue of pride. For the Christian, pride is a leadership killer. The Bible says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.[5]

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” – Saint Augustine

The biblical qualifications for a pastor state that a pastor must not be arrogant[6] and that he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit (pride) and fall into the condemnation of the devil.[7]

So, why do we have so many prideful pastors in our churches today? That is a good question, and I don’t have all the answers, but I will say that it’s not very Moses-like.

I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit upon them all![8]

Moses wasn’t a jealous leader. He didn’t cling to power. He wasn’t afraid of the success of others, and he didn’t use his position to hold gifted people down. In fact, Moses was a leader who rejoiced in the accomplishments of other leaders, even those in his own congregation.

“And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake?…’” [9]

All pastors struggle with jealousy, envy, and insecurity to some extent. Deep down we suspect that someone else could do the job better than we can, and we could be in danger of losing our position. We also find it difficult to be happy for the church that is growing down the street. It’s tough seeing our peers getting success and recognition especially when we aren’t.

It’s important that we’re aware of our weakness. Though jealousy is a common struggle, we must never let it control us, or make us negatively critical. It’s easy to become blind to our own faults, so we must learn to rejoice in the success of others, and try to build up the body of Christ through encouragement and cultivation of promising new leaders.

I once heard a story of a church that started because of the jealousy and insecurity of the sending pastor. The church was a fairly large congregation, and the pastor was a gifted teacher and evangelist. He would travel around the world for evangelistic events and mission trips. When the pastor was on the road, one of the younger pastoral interns would teach for him. The intern was also very gifted, and over time the people began to enjoy the teaching of this younger man.

On a packed Sunday, the pastor returned from a trip and stood in the back of his church. As the younger man preached, a congregation member turned to him and asked if it was his first time there. “This pastor is so gifted,” he explained. “I just love the way he teaches God’s word, and the church is really growing.” The man didn’t even realize that he was talking to the senior pastor of the church!

The following week the pastor let the intern know that God was calling him (the intern) to go plant a church somewhere else. They prayed for him and sent him out with a handshake and a “where God guides God provides.” Sadly, what could have been an incredible benefit to the church ended up being a missed opportunity. It was because of the insecurity and jealousy of the pastor.

A Moses Model pastor would rejoice in the success of others and want to see all of God’s people gifted for ministry. Remember, Moses himself was very reluctant to take any position of authority (see Exodus 3:11), and it was Moses who encouraged Joshua to lead the congregation—because he saw God’s gifting and calling on his life.

And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant.[10]

Faithfulness and servanthood are such valuable qualities in a leader. Faithfulness means that you’re committed to God and to His people no matter what. It also means you’ll do the job for as long as it takes, and whatever the cost.

Faithfulness, commitment, and patience go together. Moses faithfully waited on God’s timing for forty years, from the time he killed the Egyptian as a young man to when he was called to deliver Israel. Moses again faithfully waited on the Lord for forty years after the Exodus, wandering around with a bunch of complaining Israelites until it was time for them to go into the promised land.

Moses was faithful, and Moses was also a servant. A true servant leader sacrifices his own comfort and wellbeing for the ones he’s serving. That’s what Jesus did for us. He didn’t come to be served but to serve and give his life.[11]

Moses had the same attitude when it came to serving the people he was called to lead. At one point, he even prayed that he would be removed from God’s book so that the people’s sins could be forgiven! (See: Exodus 32:32.) He cared about them so much that he was willing to suffer for them.

Moses’ example of leadership is very different from the attitude of many pastors today. Many church leaders are more concerned with their own needs and desires than with serving the people. They forget that they’re called to serve, not to be served.

This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’[12]

There are about a hundred other things we can learn from the life of Moses on leadership, but we will save those for another time, and summarize it in one final point:

A Moses model leader always points people to Jesus.

It’s not about us; it’s not about our churches or our ministries. It’s not about our clever messages and sermons, or the amount of people that love us. It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about hearing His voice. All great leaders throughout church history have this one thing in common: they draw attention to Jesus rather than themselves.

When you take a leadership position without an attitude of humility, a desire to see others succeed, patient faithfulness, and the heart of service, you’re setting yourself up for failure. In short, the only way to be a Moses Model leader is to always stay focused on Christ.

I think the reason why Moses was so successful is that he lived for God’s promises through the messiah Jesus. (See Hebrews 11:26.) Moses could do this because he had a real and personal relationship with God.

“So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…”[13]

Friendship with God is the key to successful Moses Model leadership. We need to abide in Christ, walking and talking with Him daily.


[1] Isaiah 55:8–9 (NKJV)
[2] Acts 7:27 (NKJV)
[3] Chuck Smith, The Calvary Distinctives, 25.
[4] Numbers 12:3 (NKJV)
[5] James 4:6
[6] Titus 1:7
[7] 1 Timothy 3:6
[8] Numbers 11:29 (NLT)
[9] Numbers 11:27–29 (ESV)
[10] Hebrews 3:5 (NKJV)
[11] Matt 20:28
[12] Acts 7:37 (NKJV)
[13] Exodus 33:11 (NKJV)

Brian Kelly is lead pastor at WestChurch, a church he planted in Bradenton, Florida. For the past twenty plus years, he has been involved in church planting and mission work in East Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. Brian has a passion for planting churches and has hands-on experience seeing churches grow from the ground up. He is also a member of the CGN Executive Team.