Wednesday night Paul Shirley read for us from the 17th chapter of Exodus--the last part of the chapter, in which the Amalekites had attacked the nation of Israel unprovoked and created a major crisis. They had just recently crossed the Red Sea.

The Israelites were slaves. They'd never engaged in a battle in their entire lives. They didn't know anything about war or warfare.

Moses had used the staff that God had given him for many purposes, including dividing of the Red Sea. Moses told them to prepare for battle. He would watch the battle. He would hold up the staff so that the Lord would give them victory.

Moses committed himself to something that he thought was very doable. And he committed himself very seriously to doing it. But the task proved far bigger than Moses realized. As long as he held the staff up, the army of Israel prevailed. But when his arms grew tired and began to lower the staff, the armies of Israel began to lose the battle.

I imagine when Moses made his commitment, he thought that he was more than strong enough to see the matter through. This was a solution--it would come from God. Moses would do his part and surely they would succeed. But his arms grew tired. Will as he might that he hold the staff up, he couldn't do it.

I love the solution that was devised by the people. They brought a stone for Moses to sit on, because they knew, just like Moses couldn't hold up his arms indefinitely, they couldn't hold their arms up to support him indefinitely. So, they brought him a stone to sit on, and Moses sat down. Then two men stood beside him and used their strength to hold his arms up.

Those who become leaders in a congregation (and are committed to seeing that what is best prevails for the family of God) feel equal to the task or they wouldn't accept it. They may feel a spirit of humility. They may feel some fear. They may know their limitations. They may understand their flaws. But within themselves, they feel like, that with the help of God, they can do what they commit themselves to do.

But the task is always greater than the man--always. And there are always times when the man needs the help of those he tries to care for and those he tries to lead. So, we need to do as was done of old. There are times when we need to bring a chair and let them sit down so we can hold their hands up.

It can be an awfully lonely task. I don't believe there is probably any task that God has given us that is any lonelier than providing leadership in the church. Because a full 80% of all that you do, a full 80% of all that is expected of you, is never seen by anybody except the principals that are involved. You know so many things that can never be shared. Your heart breaks on so many occasions that you cannot even share why you are hurting. You're distressed about many things that you can never talk about, and that happens almost every single week. In time, it can take its toll.

This evening we want to encourage those that provide us leadership. We want to do it this evening, and not only this evening. By holding up their hands, we want them to know that we appreciate them. It is so easy to take them for granted. It is so easy to say nothing.

When things go well, we don't say anything. When we're happy, we don't say anything. When we feel like 'right on, you're doing exactly what needs to be done!,' we don't say anything.

It's only when things are "bad" that we say something. And you know what? There is always somebody that thinks it is bad. Always, always, somebody thinks it's bad, and they are the ones that say something.

Tonight is the night for the voice of those who know that we appreciate what has happened. We don't laud them because they're perfect. We don't laud them because they make every decision just precisely, exactly as it should be made. We laud them because they have the heart of God and they have faith in Jesus Christ. Individually, and as a group, they are really committed to that which is best for us and we want them to know that we appreciate it.

So, I challenge you, not just this evening. I challenge you when things are good and going well, tell them. Okay? When something is done really right and you are just pleased as you can be that it was done well, tell them. When one of them individually does something that you notice, that you are very encouraged about, tell him. Not just this evening, but all the time be aware.

Let's give the kind of support to our leadership that will encourage others to aspire to leadership so there will never be a dirth of leadership in this congregation.

We belong to a God that always holds our arms up. He always supports us. When we've been very bad, He still holds our arms up. When we've been very good, He holds our arms up when we don't even think He's holding. Every time in between, He holds our arms up.

Jesus Christ, our Lord, and our God and Father, always support us. They are always standing by us. As long as we maintain faith, they will always see that we have the strength and support that we need. And that strength and support is yours. It belongs to you. It belongs to you if you belong to God.

If you have not given your life to Christ, if you have not become a Christian and you would like to do so, we would love to assist you. We would love to have the privilege of witnessing your birth into Christ by baptism. If you need prayers, we would love to pray with you. If in any way you have any need, we invite you to Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 2 August 1998
transcribed by Robin Webber

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