rebelling against low expectations

When Doing Hard Things Gets (Really) Hard


At 21-years-old, I quit my job.

My dream was to work in ministry. Almost zero pay? No big deal. A non-existent teen group? I promised myself I would turn it around.

After making that crazy decision 8 months ago, I don’t regret it. What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be. And every time there is self-doubt, confusion, lack of clarity – I turn to the life of Moses.

When Moses’ Faithfulness Was Boring

If anyone had everything going for him, it was Moses. He went from the son of a Hebrew slave to a prince of the most powerful nation on earth.

But that was the past.

Now he just trudged through deserts. Leading helpless sheep that were not even his. Nothing like working for your father-in-law in backwater Midian.

It makes you wonder how many times Moses stopped to think about:

  • Where his life was going
  • Why God had him here in the middle of nowhere
  • What God was planning for his people still stuck in slavery back in Egypt
  • How all this fit together.

Yet Moses continued to work. And that is when God came for Moses.

Moses Keeps the Flock

When God calls Moses in Exodus 3:1-2, the verses seem to state the obvious.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro…

Of course, Moses is keeping sheep. That’s what he does. What we don’t realize is the amount of time that has passed.

40 years.

Moses fled from Egypt to Midian at 40 years of age. He has been running around with sheep for another 40. When God comes to Moses for the monumental task of liberating the Hebrews, Moses is at the ripe age of 80.

Why the wait?

How God Trained a Leader

Over those 40 years, God had been training His man. Lead thousands of sheep through the Sinai wilderness for 40 years? Then you’re ready to lead 1.5 million people through the exact same wilderness.

It would have been so easy for Moses to neglect the training. He could have said:

“Forget this. It’s time to retire from leading sheep.”

“Why God did you dump me here in the middle of nowhere with no future and no direction? I’m out.”

“I don’t know what God is doing, but I’m done running around the woods. I’m going to get those Hebrews out of Egypt right now.”

But that is not what Moses does.

When God finds Moses after 40 years, he is not in a tent resting. He is not trying to come up with a crazy plan. He is taking care of what God had given him – even in the face of an uncertain and confusing future.

  • God used shepherding to train Moses for leadership
  • God used the wilderness to prepare Moses for hardship and challenges
  • God used the lonely barrenness to ready Moses for the alienation he would feel

After 40 years, what God finds is a prepared – and faithful – leader.

Choosing Faithfulness

I’ll be brutally honest with you.

Reading how God waited 40 years before calling Moses makes me uneasy. It took forty years to train Moses? Like a four and a zero? Why so long? Couldn’t God have sent Moses through a 6-week leadership crash course on “How to Lead 1.5 Million Stubborn People”?

Instead, God draws us deep into the wilderness to train us in faithfulness. To experience an intimate relationship with Him.

The question I have to ask myself is this: “Am I in the tents wishing for a better future or creating a better plan? Or am in the woods being faithful with what God has given me?”

Living Faithfulness

Choosing faithfulness is easy.

But choosing faithfulness every. Single. Morning. Now that is hard.

Despite being in ministry for less than a year, that is often how it feels. I want quick results and rapid growth. Then I look at the reality of the situation – no momentum. No growth. No clear direction forward.

That is exactly what Moses faced. Yet he made the decision to take care of the flock. To be faithful with what God had given him every. Single. Day. For 40 years. Now that is real faithfulness.

When I remember Moses’ life, training in the wilderness becomes a lot easier. Because when He calls me to the next task, I want to be found in the wilderness faithfully tending the sheep.

Trained and ready.

Photo courtesy of Melran and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Samuel Byers

Samuel Byers has been a bookworm since he could pick a book up. Now, he tries to write his own stories. He also drinks too much tea.


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  • Thank you for this Samuel! My family is facing a similar challenge. My Dad became the pastor on top of his regular job a little over a year ago . Our little church in the Florida Keys is exactly where God wants us. But progress is extremely slow and Satan is seeking whom he may devour. Romans 8:28 and 8:38-39 are the verses I constantly go back to for encouragement. Keep fighting the good fight!

  • Thanks man. It’s beautiful. I especially related to the part where you said that Moses was “not trying to come up with a crazy plan.” It spoke to me. I appreciated your humor, too. 1 Cor 15:58!

  • Thanks for the great reminder. People must have been healthier for longer in that time than they are now if Moses was wandering around in the desert till his was a hundred and something!

  • “Choosing faithfulness is easy.
    But choosing faithfulness every. Single. Morning. Now that is hard”

    Thank you for this Samuel! Being faithful in the everyday, in the normal, in the mundane, that seem to be a bit of a reoccurring theme God’s been bringing up for me lately. Thank you for your wisdom, and I pray God strengthens, blesses, and encourages you to continue to run hard after Him, even while taking care of sheep!
    (Also, can I put that quote on my wall? Because yay periods making points! And yay good truths, of course 😉 )

  • This definitely hits home with me. I have been in this stage of waiting for a while, and i have been wondering if God has simply abandoned me. Like, i know that doesn’t happen, but sometimes it just feels like that, if you know what i mean. This is encouraging in that, as Moses had to wait 40 years, it makes my 6 or so months very tiny!

    • Glad this was encouraging for you! After graduating college, I was so lost and confused. I just assumed I had my entire life planned out – only for me to hit a dead end. It felt like perpetual waiting… Even now, it sometimes feels like that!

      God does that sometimes. He wants to blow our plans up to smithereens. While we’re standing there going, “Why God?”, He comes in with a better plan. A plan we could never even dreamed of. But we have to be patient.

      So don’t feel bad about having that feeling. I have felt it, and if other Christians are honest with you, they have felt it. The key is what do we do with that feeling? Wait on God or run ahead of God?

      Stay strong!

  • Thanks for this article Samuel! It couldn’t have come at a better time. A year ago God asked me to give up my dream to serve Him. Thank you for the reminder that, just because sometimes it seems like God isn’t using me to serve Him, He may be preparing me for what He has in store for me down the road. God bless you Samuel.

  • Thanks, for this article! I’m facing gigantic struggles, but your article changed my view about my life and issues right now.

  • Thank you so much for sharing. A poem I have come to love during this season of my life is called Wait by Russel Kelfer; it is kind of a similar idea of what God teaches us during the times of the unknown. I love the example of Moses and the preparation that God had for him in the midst of sheep. His will and way are always best and as we learn to be content like Paul, in all circumstances He deepens our knowledge of Him as well.
    God bless you as you continue to minister and faithfully serve Him.
    God is good, all the time.

By Samuel Byers
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →