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Activity 2: Moses — An Ancient Leadership Story (40 minutes), Workshop 9: Facing Danger

In "Harvest the Power," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Review the story. Arrange for four participants to read aloud the story's four sections. Or, plan to engage a "cast" of readers, assigning volunteers to read the entire story including the words of the storyteller, God, Moses, Pharaoh, the people and Jethro. Make enough copies of the story.
  • Make sure all participants have Handout 1, distributed in the previous activity.

Description of Activity

The Moses story is an ancient one, generally familiar to adults in our congregations. Explain that you will explore the Moses story using a new lens. Say, in your own words:

Moses will be a case study. We will examine how Moses led through an adaptive challenge. An adaptive challenge is one that demands a community develop organizational, structural and spiritual capacities to meet a problem successfully, according to its values and purposes.

Tell them they will hear the story in four sections. After each section, they will be invited to examine how Moses is doing as a leader and what wisdom the story offers to contemporary Unitarian Universalist congregational leaders.

Invite prearranged volunteers to read aloud the first section of the story, Moses is Called to Leadership. Then, ask participants to reflect silently on these questions:

  • Who first called you to leadership?
  • What were the circumstances?
  • Did you hesitate to accept? What were your concerns about saying "yes"?
  • Did you feel compelled to say "yes" because of the person doing the asking?

After two minutes, invite participants to turn to a partner and to share as much as they are comfortable sharing about their story. Tell participants they have four minutes for the conversation. After two minutes, remind pairs to switch speakers.

Resume the reading. After the second section, Out of Egypt, lead a whole-group conversation for about five minutes, using these questions as a guide:

  • What resistance did Moses face? What were the sources of the resistance?
  • How did Moses show his integrity as a leader in the face of a seemingly intractable problem? How would the story have been different if he had compromised?
  • What role did vision (getting on the balcony) play in Moses' actions? What role did persistence play?
  • Does this story bring to mind any contemporary problems or issues facing your congregation?

Now have volunteers read aloud the third section, In the Wilderness. When they are done, invite participants to move into groups of three and take five minutes to explore this section of the story using these questions:

  • How is Moses doing here as he faces a wild assortment of management challenges?
  • What role is anxiety playing in this story? How is Moses trying to hold the people's anxiety or fix what is making them anxious?
  • Does Moses' own anxiety come into play? If so, how?
  • As a congregational leader, have you ever felt overwhelmed by management challenges? How does that affect your ability to get on the balcony and ask "Are we doing right things?" rather than "Are we doing things right?"

Re-gather the group and have volunteers read aloud the fourth section, Forming a New Society. Invite participants to reflect and comment on the way Moses leads the people through an adaptive challenge. You may wish to remind the group of the definition of an adaptive challenge by asking, "What organizational, structural and spiritual capacities did Moses' people need to develop, in order to move forward as a people?" Ask, "Why must a generation die off before the people can enter the Promised Land?"

Indicate the information found in Handout 1 and invite participants to name the dangers Moses faced. Use these questions:

  • Are there occasions when he is seduced, marginalized, attacked or diverted?
  • Are there occasions when he is reactive and anxious himself?

Be sure to save a few minutes for these concluding discussion questions:

  • What wisdom does this tale offer contemporary congregational leaders?
  • In what ways does this story help you better understand any of the dangers listed in Handout 1?

Including All Participants

Ask for volunteer readers ahead of time; do not put anyone on the spot. If possible, provide the story to pre-arranged readers before the workshop.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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