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Carry them on your hands


February 19, 2022

By Rowan Van Dyk

Carry them on your hands

3 min

Moses was probably one of the great leaders of the bible. Heled the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to a better future that had been promised them by God.

We read the account in the book of Exodus from chapters 3 to 40.The facts are that Moses did not jump at the opportunity when it was presented to him. In fact, Moses was not very keen on the idea at all. We see in chapter 3that while Moses was in the desert looking after the sheep of his father-in-law, God appeared to him in a burning bush and told him that he had to lead the Israelites out of captivity.

But Lord Moses spluttered ……

1.      I do not speak eloquently – so take your brother Aaron to speak on your behalf

2.     They won’t believe you sent me – throw your staff on the ground (it turned into a snake)

3.     They still won’t believe me – pick up the snake by the tail (it turned back into a staff)

4.     But what will I tell Pharaoh – put your hand in your cloak (it came out covered in sores)

5.     But Lord… - put your hand back in your cloak (it came out healed)

But Lord…

Moses was obviously not keen to return to Egypt, let alone lead the Israelites out. Could it be because he had killed an Egyptian slave driver previously, or was he just not in the mood?

We read throughout Exodus that Moses was in fact a bit of a hothead. He became easily irritated with a situation and then reacted to the situation:

1.      He saw the Egyptian beating up a fellow Israelite, and Moses beat him to death.

2.     When he came down the mountains with the first set of tablets containing the ten commandments and saw that the Israelites had built golden calves as gods, he smashed the tablets on the ground.

3.     When they were camped at Rephidim and the Israelites were once again complaining that they should have stayed in Egypt because they had no water, he got angry and smashed the rock with his staff instead of tapping it as he had been instructed by God.

Moses did eventually lead the Israelites to the edge of the promised land but because of his temper God would not let him enter the promised land.

Moses did however do the right thing by grooming Joshua as his successor. All throughout Exodus we see that Moses was constantly preparing him for his role as the next leader:

1.      When Moses went up the mountain the second time for the tablets, Joshua went along

2.     When Moses was setting up the tabernacle and God descended on the tabernacle in a cloud, Joshua was with Moses.

3.     When Moses was on the hilltop with his hands raised and the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Joshua was put in charge of the army.

So, when Moses had to hand over the reins, Joshua was obviously the natural choice and the Israelites had gotten used to him being at Moses’’ side.  

When Joshua took over from Moses and was told to attack Jericho, his instructions were that they had to march around the city each day for six days and on the seventh day they had to march around seven times. The weird part of the instruction was that they were to be completely silent and not make a sound while they were marching around the city.

Can you imagine what the Israelites must have thought of this strange instruction? But you know what? They did it anyway. Why? Because they trusted Joshua and they trusted him to lead them in the best possible way. Also, as a soldier Joshua was used to leading the charge, so he was in front, and they were following his example.

This whole story actually brings me to a poll I ran recently on LinkedIn where I asked people whether poor customer service was as a result of poor leadership, poor training of staff or the poor attitude of the staff. The results were that over 70% claimed it was as a result of all three and only26% said it was due to poor leadership.

I will agree with the 70% but I will have to add that it is due to poor leadership that the staff have lousy attitudes and are not properly trained.

Like in the case of Moses if leaders get irritated with staff and it becomes a major hassle to train them, then they will reciprocate and treat your customers badly. They think they are getting back at you for your lack of leadership – they don’t know any better. But on the other hand, if you are a leader like Joshua and you have their interests at heart, then they will follow you and carry out your requests even if it may seem a bit weird.

When it comes to customer service, my experience over the last35 years has been that staff all know what good service is – in fact they are also customers and frequent retail stores themselves, so they know how they want to be treated as customers. The problem is that they either do not like their leader or they do not trust the abilities and guidance of their leaders, so they rebel in the only way they know how. They sabotage your customer service by treating customers badly.

Moses did not have a relationship with the Israelites he was leading out of Egypt. Yes, God had chosen him to fulfill a role, but he was irritated and became angry with them instead of building relationships with them. Joshua on the other hand had a relationship with the people and was able to gain much more success due to this relationship.

Moses realized this very late in his career when they were at war with the Amalekites at Rephidim. Moses was told by God to stand on the hilltop and lift his staff above his head. In Exodus chapter 17 verses 10 to 13 we read that “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  So, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” (NIV)

Moses had to learn to work along with others in his team such as Aaron, Hur and Joshua to defeat the Amalekites.

As a leader you should not only set the example, but you need to build relationships with your team, so they want to please you in what they do. Your relationships must be of a standard that they will carry out the requests no matter whether they think it seems strange.

Do you want your employees to treat your customers like they ought to be treated? Then build relationships and set the example. You may also train them but that is secondary to the relationships. Training will also not change their attitudes to the extent that they will want to treat your customers as special.