Leadership Focus: Presence
Exodus 33: 12-23 (NRSV)
12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”
17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” 21 And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23 then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”
The chosen theme for this week is leadership in the midst of recession. You may be a leader in a team at work, in a community group or within the church. You may not have any official leadership role, but every one of us can “give a lead” in any group at any time by the tone of our voice, the questions we ask, or our mood that affects the atmosphere in the room. It has been said that we lead by the light we shed or the shadow we cast. That applies to us all.
As this virus disables and dismantles our economy, many business leaders and policy makers are facing terrifying prospects of financial collapse and having to make good employees redundant. Gone are the secure frameworks of the affluent. Where is God in all this?
Time to pray the feisty prayer of Moses, challenging God to make good on his promised Presence. Time to press the questions that lead to a fresh revelation of his compassion amidst the confusion. Only when God has passed by, does Moses see God’s back. Later we may see where God has been in all this as we look at “his back”.
Meantime, God says, “I will give you rest”. We can all give a lead by learning to be a non-anxious presence in this anxious world. Well, at least a little less anxious than others!
Your Presence, Lord.
That is what we ask.
That is all we need
When hard decisions must be made.
And people’s livelihoods are at stake.
Teach me to rest
In your Presence,
And be a strong rock
Amidst the crumbling scree;
A steady presence that reflects
Your unseen Presence
In your seeming absence. AMEN