This week’s lesson from the Hebrew Bible recounts the death and burial of Moses. The grief was palpable: “The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended” (Deuteronomy 34: 8). Yet, the longing for such a leader remains an unabated part of the history of the covenant people. Years later, the deuteronomistic editors observed in retrospect: “Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (v. 10). Not without his flaws, Moses had lived out his calling with growing humility and wisdom.
We recognize that transformative leaders are rare, and we call to memory those horizonal persons who have been able to see beyond the present to a more holistic future. Scripture acknowledges that these leaders may be prophetic figures among the people of God, or they may be leaders in the wider commonwealth of the world. In the highly charged political climate of the US, many evoke former presidents as visionary, willing to make the hard decisions, and more passionate for the larger good than present expediency.
As Central has hosted professors and students from Myanmar Institute of Theology over the past week, we have had opportunity to learn more about the emerging political situation in their country. Newly elected President Thein Sein, a former general, seems to be easing Myanmar’s stringent restrictions. As one of the visiting professors put it: “For the first time in my life (over half a century) I am cautiously optimistic." It seems that the most significant practice of this leader is that he actually listens to the people. Because of this, they are being empowered to begin thinking of themselves as “citizens” and not simply “subjects.”
A friend of Central who is deeply acquainted with movements in Myanmar (Burma) is steadfast in his prayer for their leadership. He believes that things could change rapidly as the Spirit of God finds ways to bring new realities into being. His faith and example remind me to pray more expectantly for these leaders who hold the fate of so many in their hands.
God continues to raise up leaders for present challenges—even in those places we might fear God has little access! Weeping for Moses has its place; more important, is to cultivate those qualities of knowing God “face to face” so that we might intercede for those who lead in our day as well as be prepared to lead ourselves.
Molly T. Marshall
To learn more about Central’s generative partnership with Myanmar Institute of Theology, continue visiting our website.