Moses led the people to a dead end. The route to the Promised Land went a different way. He turned them into a narrow pass between two mountain ranges. They arrived at the Red Sea with no way to go but back.
Then, Pharoah changed his mind about letting them go. He rode the most powerful army in the world right up behind them. Chariots, horsemen, and marching troops were heading for God’s trapped and panicking people.
God told him to. God told Moses to go that way. God took the people into the impossible. God was not surprised by the mountain, sea, or army. God was aware of it all before He told Moses to go there.
Moses listened to the people say ridiculous things about his leadership. He heard their complaints. He heard them say slavery was better than death. He heard them say God must hate them all. He heard the angry voices. He heard them rise near the breaking point when anxiety and anger turn to violence.
So, Moses prayed.
God listened for a moment before interrupting Moses. God says, ‘Get up! This is not a time to talk but act. Go, stand before the sea and extend the rod of God over it.”
Moses did. A wind began to blow. It blew all night long. Moses stood there breathing the wild wind. It got cold. It got colder. It got so cold things began to freeze.
The wind cut a pathway through the sea like a knife cuts soft butter. The wind blew into that the pathway and froze the water on both sides of the way through. It froze the ground. Dryland appeared where there had been deep waters.
The next morning three million previous trapped people awaken to a wonder-world. They can all see the way forward.
Moses cries out, “Forward march!”
The Pace of “Forward March”
I’ve often wondered what it feels like to walk into the depths of the sea. Looking up at walls of frozen water on either side and walking on the hard soil you know was a sea bottom for centuries.
You have 3 million people to move through that opening.
My question becomes, “Who sets the pace?”
1. You do not send the cattle, sheep, and camels through first. Wealth does not set the pace of “forward march.”
I know that most ministries march forward at the pace of the money they raise. The only “we can do that” they understand comes after counting cattle, sheep, and camels, so to speak.
If Moses were this kind of leader, he would send the wealth first so he could count it. Let the people eat the dust of ten thousand hooves. You can’t measure forward motion by any other criteria.
You do not make all your decisions in ministry about “Do we have the money?”You won’t go far. You won’t start at all. You will never get where God sends you. You won’t have the money to finish when you start.
The question of pacing is not about the money to finish. It is about the passion to start. It is about the passion to continue. It is about the passion to finish. It is never about how much wealth you have with you.
We must never allow money to measure corporate passion.
2. You do not send the weakest first. They are the slowest but they do not set the pace.
The whole point about the weakest is that they need help. To make it through, you will have to help the weakest every step of the way. They want to go. They have the passion to go. They may have more passion to go than the strongest!
But, the weakest are not the leaders. The youngest are not the leaders. The infirm do not set the pace.
But, you do not leave them behind!
So, Moses must have had a strategy for wagons, camels, horses, mules, or broad shoulders. To move 3 million people at the pace of someone with a limp is senseless. To move on and leave the weakest behind is heartless.
We must bring the weakest the help they need to maintain the pace of corporate passion.
3. You do not send the strongest first. They will just run ahead and leave you defenseless and helpless when you need them most.
The point of leading is attending to those that follow. Leaders are not achievers. Moses is not looking to set a new world speed record for crossing a sea by running on the bottom of it. Moses is not looking for his strongest to set the pace.
The strongest have passion. They do not set the pace of “forward motion” because they are the strongest.
For example, I often observe the most spiritual run up the mountain of the Lord in worship. The more mature run up the mountain as soon as we first raise our hands. I always stop the worship than to ask them to come back down. If the strongest wish to run at their own pace, they can stay at home. They set the pace when it is their personal worship time. I set the pace when it is corporate worship time.
“Let’s go up the mountain of the Lord together,” I say. I provide leadership so the pace is not set by the strongest.
4. The pace of “Forward March” is always set by the level of shared corporate passion.
If you do not like the level of corporate passion, change it. Lead! Put some fire in the bones of your leadership! Lift the whole group. Push the whole pile forward.
Beware the emptiness of example that appreciates achievement but despises the corporate assignment. Look out for the trophy seekers. People observing champions will not raise the level of corporate passion. They might become passionate spectators instead of passionate participants.
If you never do anything about the level of corporate passion but complain that it is too cool, you are a poor leader. If you never challenge the present level, you are a poor leader. If you have no passion to set a leadership expectation for a higher level, you are a poor leader. You are the one responsible. You cannot wait until you get to the dead end to set the pace of corporate passion.
You brought the people into this dead end. You must set the pace to get them through when God makes a way. You need to be aware that you are going to end up in that dead end at some point. You should know by now that God will lead you there.
You should start immediately raising the level of corporate passion. It must be much higher than the levels you need for a Sunday morning stroll.
Most leaders act as if the present situation will never change. The vision they have for the future asks them for nothing more than the comfort they have achieved in setting a good example. They welcome the trophy room presentations that honor personal achievement.
When God brings the people they lead to the Red Sea – and He will! – the people will not have enough passion to move forward. The level of corporate passion will fail. They will not step into the exposed sea bottom. They will turn back to the arms of their oppressor and beg mercy.
When they do, your leadership will be the reason they die.
Raising the Corporate Passion Levels
When something begins, corporate may passion run high. The passion to start is more easily warmed than the passion to finish. The first steps are easy compared to the Red Sea passage.
It is not what you can do that builds passion. It is what you sustain.
Making love on your honeymoon has no comparison to sustaining passion. Maintaining passionate love after three kids and a decade of living together requires more than romance and a full moon sky over a placid pond. Marital passion is not about personal achievement but marriage oneness. Deeper love achieved after sustaining decades of love will reward your heart in places you didn’t even know were there on your honeymoon.
The passion to begin depends upon continued excitement. The corporate passion to continue depends upon something else altogether. To know the passion for success is to expect a test of passion that success produces.
You must test passion. You must challenge distraction. You must confront offense. You must confront passivity. You must remove leaders who drain passion off for other purposes than the one for which you are responsible.
Passion is always about war. If you do not love someone or something enough to fight for it, your passion has already failed. There will be a fight. There will be a test. There will be a moment when no way forward is available. The temporary will test the permanent. Passion will stand the test, fight the battles, and embrace the challenges.
Corporate passion says, “We will fight together.”
Take note when any leader in the corporate group fights only for themselves. Take note of that leader’s passion. Test the corporate contribution of the passion. Personal passion fails when required to fight for the corporate purpose. If personal passion is all a person has, that is a leader you cannot afford in leadership for one more minute!
I tested a leader with great passion. I discerned the passion levels they maintained. I realized the passion was personal. When I tested the personal passion with a corporate battle, the leader complained, “That is not my problem. This your ministry, Dr. Don. That is your problem, Dr. Don, not mine.” I knew that leader had to go, and I knew when they went others would go too.
No one, in particular, followed their lead. They are just too narcissistic. Every leader who shared the incapacity for corporate battle left as well.
I challenged the level of personal passion with a demand for corporate passion. Immediately, the corporate level of passion increased in every other leader!
An Epidemic of David’s Passion
David shows us corporate passion. Corporate passion transfer comes when someone with corporate passion sacrifices personal passion.
David risks his life for someone else’s lambs. David kills lion and bear on principle of corporate passion. David is more passionate about the corporate inheritance of the family than he is for his own life.
David releases corporate passion in the valley of the giants. The entire army of Israel receives a transfer of corporate passion. They rush into the valley to chase the fleeing Philistines. David walks away with a weapon as big as his passion. Every warrior returns weaponized for war. (No one had a sword or spear in the entire army until that moment.)
David had a contagious passion. He had God’s passion. David had God’s passion for God’s people to fulfill God’s purpose. David responded to every challenge of purpose with corporate passion.
David made mighty men of those no one else wanted. David infused these losers with corporate passion. David was not an achiever to be observed but a leader to be followed. David lifted the level of corporate passion in a kingdom Saul attempted to rule with a personal passion.
Corporate passion grows in a corporate challenge. But, corporate passion develops when people are willing to risk it all for one sheep. Washing feet builds corporate passion without erasing leadership authority. A leader who wants his own feet washed has a personal passion. A leader who washes every dirty foot in the room has corporate passion.
Leader, increase the level of corporate passion in your ministry today!