Lead from Our Experiences
Yael Eckstein | February 28, 2023
May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. — Numbers 27:16-17
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.
One of the most important leadership lessons that I learned from my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of blessed memory, is about the importance of experience. What I mean is the importance of understanding the roles and experiences of people at all levels at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
For example, my first job at The Fellowship was working in the mailroom. Even though my father knew that he wanted me to lead The Fellowship one day, he wanted to make sure that I had firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to do all the various jobs in our large organization.
And I must say, having served in many different roles at The Fellowship has helped me immeasurably. It had made me more sensitive and better able to understand everyone’s needs and the challenges that come with each position.
Lead from Our Experiences
When the time came for transitioning his leadership to Joshua, Moses prayed, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
What did Moses mean by “go out and come in before them” and “lead them out and bring them in?” What specific traits of leadership was Moses asking for?
The Jewish sages explained that Moses was looking for someone who was ahead of the people spiritually. Only then could he lead them on their own spiritual journey. And then Moses asked for someone who could “lead them out and bring them in.” In other words, someone who could lead them out of the wrong behavior, and into the right way to live. And for that, Moses knew that a leader must have the experience of overcoming obstacles himself if he were to show others the way.
No matter how talented someone is, they will not be able to lead if they don’t have experience themselves. Would you want soldiers to follow a commander who has never himself been in combat? A true leader leads from experience.
In one way or another, we are all leaders and we all have the ability to lead from our experiences. We lead in our families, in our communities, and at work. We all have valuable life experiences that can help others in similar situations. Every challenge we’ve been through makes us better suited to lead others.
Are there people in your life who could benefit from your experience? Don’t shy away from sharing what you have learned. Maybe this is why God gave you those challenges in the first place!