What do you do when your plans haven’t worked out? When your dreams seem more like wishful thinking rather than things that will see come to pass? When nothing is working and everything good seems far off, how do you respond when you have no idea what to do? It might not feel like it, but the experiences of your life story actually sets you up for success if we view them correctly.
The story of Moses can show us this principle. He had a fascinating life, even from birth. Moses was born a slave. His people, the Hebrews, were oppressed by the Egyptians who used them as slave labourers. Because there were so many Hebrews and the Egyptian Pharoah feared a rebellion, he ordered that all the male Hebrew babies should be killed at birth. To protect their baby son, Moses’ parents put him in a basket and hid him on the water of the Nile, hoping he would evade discovery. He was discovered by an Egyptian princess and taken in by her. This meant Moses would grow up in Pharoah’s household. He would have had the best education of his day and would have been given a prince’s schooling. Moses wouldn’t have only learnt reading, writing and arithmetic, but subjects essential to anyone expected to be part of the ruling group. His education would have included politics, diplomacy, economics, law, government and leadership. Moses, from a young age, would have been prepared to lead a nation. Not bad for a slave!
It all seems to be going so well but one day, as a young man, Moses is drawn into a scuffle. Although he was trying to be a peacemaker, a man is accidentally killed in the conflict. Fearing the consequences, Moses runs away from Egypt into the vast desert. Meeting a tribe who live there, Moses joins them. Adopting this new way of life, he becomes a shepherd and spends forty years in the desert wilderness watching sheep, He learns how to care, provide, and protect his flocks in the unyielding terrain.
One day, going about his shepherd business, Moses sees a burning bush. Drawn to it, he has an encounter with God and so returns to the new Egyptian Pharaoh to bargain for the release of the Hebrew slaves. After many interactions with this new ruler, involving ten disasters that impact the land of Egypt, Moses leads the now-liberated people out of Egypt and towards their promised homeland.
I propose that there are five lessons we can learn from the life of Moses. Each will help us reflect on our personal story and how it can set us up for success.
1. Your story sets you up for success because you’ve developed unique knowledge
Moses had learnt enough through his journey to recognize that this burning bush was different to all the others he had seen before in the blazing desert. His journey had taught him many things.
What has your journey taught you?
2. Your story sets you up for success because you’ve developed unique abilities to connect with certain kinds of people.
Because of his education and upbringing, Moses stood before Pharaoh and knew how to address and interact with him. He understood how to act and speak, and was familiar with the political etiquette needed. His journey had prepared him to deal with the type of people he needed to interact with.
Who do you excel at relating with?
3. Your story sets you up for success because you’ve developed unique skills to help you do what you need to do.
As a shepherd, Moses knew how to kill and cook a lamb. He was able to establish the Passover meal by giving the necessary instructions to the people so they could kill and cook lambs for themselves. Moses had developed skills throughout his journey that might have seemed mundane, but at the right time were pivotal.
What have you learned what to do?
4. Your story sets you up for success because you’ve been trained in preparation for future endeavours.
From a young age, Moses had been taught how to lead a nation. Few of us can say that! When he needed to lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt – over a million people – he was able to lead, manage, organize, and direct them. His upbringing and education – both formal and informal – prepared him.
What have you been trained to do?
5. Your story sets you up for success because you’ve developed character and perspective to help others weather the storms you have faced.
Leading a million people isn’t easy, but when you add in the fact that these people weren’t grateful, it makes it even tougher! The Hebrews were unhappy because their new freedom meant they had to fend for themselves. They also had to go into the desert as a consequence of leaving slavery in Egypt behind. So there was a lot of complaining, moaning and looking back to the ‘good old days!’ But Moses was familiar with desert life; he had lived there for forty years. His own wilderness, his own dry, barren season of exile, had toughened him up. Moses had keys to survive in the environment, but also to thrive. This meant he could help others flourish too.
What storms have you survived that you can strengthen others through?
So keep your hope up. Nothing is wasted, and your story to date is simply setting you up for success!