How to Kill a Consumer Mentality (and Inspire Others to Greatness)

by Andy Wood on September 2, 2009

in Consumers, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Words

JumpOK, so there’s this guy who’s asking his brother-in-law for a major favor.  This isn’t like lending a wheelbarrow or babysitting the kids for a weekend.  This order’s pretty tall.  As in,

Could you leave your family?

Oh, and your country, too?

And help me babysit my family of three million?

Hey, what’s a family for?

And get this – all indications are that that the brother-in-law did it. 

Curious yet?  I sure would be, for several reasons:

  •  What kind of leadership can inspire somebody to make such a huge investment in a group of complete strangers and foreigners? 
  • And what kind of example would motivate a man to leave his home and country for a cause greater than his own desire, heritage, family and values? 
  • And what kind of offer or promise – even from your sister’s husband – would make you think for one second that the unknown adventure before you is more desirable than familiar and comfortable life awaiting your return?

All that and more is answered in a simple promise from the meekest man and one of the most powerful leaders who ever lived.  And it speaks powerfully to leaders, dreamers, and a world of consumers today. 

The Back Story

 Moses is the one doing the asking.  The brother-in-law?  A Midianite named Hobab.  Moses is trying to convince Hobab to go with him and the children of Israel as they journey into the wilderness (desert), headed for the Promised Land. 

Hobab prefers to return to his own people.  But Moses needs his expertise on the wilderness and its inhabitants.  So he shows and tells the good things the Lord is doing for Israel, and then makes this promise:

“So it will be, if you go with us, that whatever good the Lord does for us, we will do for you” (Numbers 10:32).

That promise stopped me in my tracks when I read it yesterday.  One simple act of leadership inspired a man to change his life direction.  One expression of sincere stewardship helped transform a man from a consumer to a LifeVestor.  And one promise forged two men from completely different worlds into a team.

Think you might want to read that promise again?

The Leader

One of the roles of leadership is to inspire others to invest in a cause greater than their own self-interests.  Moses does so by demonstrating that the task he was undertaking was nothing close to his idea.  This was a God-thing, and the evidence was everywhere to back that up. 

But Moses the leader, and recipient of miracle provision and wonder-blessing, refuses to bring a hoarding or consuming attitude into his leadership.  Instead, he recognizes that the expressions of God’s goodness that he receives give him an opportunity to share that goodness with others – particularly those who are part of his leadership team.

“I will do for you what God does for me.”  What a concept.  Contrast that with the hordes of so-called leaders who step on the backs of constituents to build a kingdom of their own. 

Here is a leader who sees himself as a steward, or a conduit.  He is ready to give to his team in proportion to the way God has given to him.  And in so doing, he positions himself to receive more from God.

How would it change your leadership style if you did for your constituents what God has done for you?  How would you communicate differently?  How would you serve the needs of employees or volunteers?  How would you manage conflict, invest in constituents’ development, or strategically plan?

The Example

Moses is a man whose life speaks louder than his words.  What he offers to Hobab as a promise is already being demonstrated in his own life.  Moses is already giving to others what God has given to him.  Simply to offer that to another person is just an extension of his character. 

How would it impact my life if I did for others what God had done for me?  Here’s a quick sampling:

  • I would forgive greatly and willingly.
  • I would pursue relationship and friendship.
  • I would meet extraordinary and ordinary needs.
  • I would listen more than I speak.
  • I would think ahead about how to provide for those I love.
  • I would protect others from seen and unseen danger.
  • I would be very, very patient.

How would it impact your life if you did the same?  More important, who would it impact? 

The Promise

Something lay beneath this simple, but amazing promise.  Moses could offer to do for his brother-in-law what God did for Israel because he was aware of what God was doing!   Simply put, he was paying attention.  

Awareness is the force behind the force.  It’s the down payment on your ability to make and keep promises on any level.  Moses could only fulfill his promise to the degree he kept his eyes, ears, and heart open.

Gratitude is another catalyst.  When I recognize that what I have has God as its source, I rethink consuming it all on me.  My willingness to share with others is directly proportional to the gratitude I have for what God has done.  Simply put, grateful people are generous people.  Ingrates are stingy and selfish. 

So how is it possible, with one simple idea, to kill a consumer mentality, offer inspiring leadership, provide a motivational example, and forge a team?  Start with a sense of awareness. Add some gratitude.  Then share it with others. 

The simple idea?  Stewardship.  The awareness that my life, my leadership, my relationships, and my future are not my own.  They’re all a gift – a trust – from God.  Moses understood that.  And a nation was blessed by it. 

I think the brother-in-law came out okie dokie, too.

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