#306 Serving Leaders ask those who follow: “What is in your hand?”

August 4, 2021

Serving leaders long for those who follow to not only learn what to do, but how to think for themselves. So, they ask powerful questions of those who follow and use this one to help develop their leadership capacity.  Serving leaders look at the question God asked Moses, “What is in your hand?” They first apply it to themselves by asking “What is in my hand?” Then, they reflect on what this question means for those who follow them and they also ask it of them.

 2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. 3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:2–5, NIV).

Serving leaders ask this question of their followers with three objectives.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to reveal potential.

In this story God saw the potential Moses had, but Moses did not! God does not give Moses a list of things He saw, but instead asks the question. He wants Moses to see the staff differently than before. Serving leaders ask the same question so that their followers will discover gifts that they have within themselves. They might need to ask several times or to add “What else do you have?” after some answers have been provided. Serving leaders desire for their followers to see that they are not simply “ordinary” persons, but individuals that have been created in a unique way for a specific purpose.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to release creativity.  

God was calling Moses to use his staff in a new way and his thinking needed to change. Serving leaders decide that instead of providing solutions to problems, they can serve better by asking someone, “What could you do to solve this problem?” or “How could you improve this process?” They develop people by asking the question until the creativity within begins to be revealed.

Serving leaders ask “What is in your hand?“ to resist dependency.  

All leaders are tempted to be the one with the answers. God certainly had answers for Moses! But God asked Moses the question to make him think. He wanted Moses to stretch his own thinking and not always depend on someone to tell him what to do. God chose to use what was in Moses’ hand instead of giving him something new. Serving leaders learn from Moses to ask “What is in your hand?” in ways that help followers become less dependent on the leader. This is a process of discipleship which may take a significant amount of time but gradually the serving leader helps the follower to be able to think on their own, to make decisions and take action. They serve by asking the question that forces the follower to see themselves as someone with answers. Serving leaders have answers but they often serve by asking questions instead of dispensing information.    

For further reflection and discussion:

  • When I see potential in others do I tend to ignore it? Point it out? Or do I ask a question that allows them to discover it in themselves? Who can I ask this week, “What is in your hand?”
  • How do I encourage creativity among those who follow me? Am I able to hold my ideas and answers in order to encourage others to think first and plan?
  • Do I find my identity in providing answers to people’s questions? In what way does that impact my leadership?
  • Over time, are people becoming more dependent or less dependent on my presence? What does this say about my heart to serve others?                 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another question serving leaders ask themselves, “How am I growing?”.