Lead on Softly

Today’s Passage –Genesis 33 – 35 

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 25 – 26; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)

“And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.” – (Genesis 33:13-14)

In our passage today, Jacob and his large family are travelling back to the land of Canaan, and when they are almost to their destination they meet up with Jacob’s brother, Esau. Jacob was initially afraid to meet up with his brother because when he had last seen Esau 20 years prior, they were not on good terms. However, it seems that all is well between them, and now they will both travel along the same route to the land that God gave their grandfather, Abraham. The problem is that Esau is travelling with 400 men, and Jacob is travelling with his family, including women and small children; and he also has his livestock with him. Jacob knew that he could not keep the same pace as Esau, so he sent Esau on ahead. Jacob told his brother that he will “lead on softly”, at a slower pace, so that he would not put too much strain upon his family.

There is a wonderful lesson that can be learned from this story. Jacob knew that the people that he was leading weren’t capable of doing what Esau’s men could do, so he didn’t try to force them to perform at a level that was beyond their ability at that point. As a preacher, I have had to learn (sometimes the hard way), that all of the people at our church are not the same. They all have different gifts and abilities, and they are all at different stages of growth. It would be wrong for me to expect a babe in Christ to act as spiritually mature as someone that has been saved and growing for many years. Similarly, I should not expect someone  to perform in some capacity that is beyond their God-given ability. Everyone is unique. However, I do want to offer opportunities to our people that will challenge, and stretch them, but I must be careful not to put too much upon them. I thank God that He has been very patient with me, and has developed me on a timetable that was uniquely designed for me.

Parents need to learn this lesson as well. We shouldn’t compare our children because they are all different. Some will develop faster than others. They will all have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. We need to pray daily for wisdom from God as to what each of our children need at the level they are at today. Someday, they may be travelling with a band of 400 men, but for now we  may have to “lead on softly”.


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