Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29 (NRSV)
Verse 4The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, "If only we had meat to eat! Verse 5We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; Verse 6but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at." Verse 10Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, all at the entrances of their tents. Then the Lord became very angry, and Moses was displeased. Verse 11So Moses said to the Lord, "Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Verse 12Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a sucking child,' to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors? Verse 13Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me and say, 'Give us meat to eat!' Verse 14I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. Verse 15If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once-if I have found favor in your sight-and do not let me see my misery."
Verse 16So the Lord said to Moses, "Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting, and have them take their place there with you.
Verse 24So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Verse 25Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. Verse 26Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. Verse 27And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." Verse 28And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" Verse 29But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!"
What excited me about being a pastor was the opportunity to tell the love story of Jesus Christ and help others see their gifts of discipleship. Being the administrator of many “tribes” of families and organizing a staff on a daily basis was not initially at the top of my “pastor” list, but that would change.
Moses has the weight of God’s people on his shoulders and he wants God’s help. For him there is no church constitution describing leadership or a book about the priesthood of all believers. But there is God’s presence, and suddenly the power of the Spirit is blessing seventy elders to become helpers. And then two others have been gifted also. Moses says “yes” to all this help.
Self-giving administrators that share power to unite a diverse community of believers are a great blessing to a faith community. It becomes known as a faith community that helps others as opposed to a faith community that only fights among itself.
Lord, guide us in our leadership skills that when we see good leaders and good ideas in our faith communities, that they do not threaten us. Give us the confidence to say “yes” and give them the support they need to grow in their discipleship. Amen.