An insecure, inarticulate shepherd who is God's choice to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and to the precipice of the Promised Land, Moses is fascinating to study as a leader.

This morning as I was reading in Numbers 16, something jumped out at me. If you remember the story, a man named Korah stages a coup against Aaron and Moses. He gathered 250 people in his rebellion and attempted to overthrow Moses. Moses goes before God and asks God to judge between them. In Numbers 16:20-21, God tells Moses and Aaron to stand back so he can destroy the whole congregation and start over with Moses and Aaron.

Moses' response is pretty amazing. He begs God not to destroy the congregation on behalf of the 250 who rebelled.

This isn't the first time Moses had to bail the people out. Previously, it wasn't just 250 who rebelled - it was the entire nation (Exodus 32:9-10). God promised to destroy them while fulfilling His promise to make a great nation out of Moses.

Moses gets the chance to start over with a new nation. More than once. More than once he gets a mulligan - a chance to start fresh with the promise from God he would be successful. And each time, Moses begs God to spare the people.

I don't know about you, but the chance to start fresh would have been tempting to me. These people disobeyed God around every corner. They disrespected Moses and Aaron, grumbled and complained about everything - they didn't have food and then when they received food they didn't like the menu. These people were worthless.

But Moses loved them. And Moses was jealous for God's character to be continually put on display.

He had to. That's the only explanation for why he constantly went to bat for those people.

Moses loved the people he led, and he did so out of a love for the God he served. The best way for the character of a God who is longsuffering, patient, kind, just, sovereign, and omnipotent to be put on display is through people who are obstinate, impatient, mean, unfair, out-of-control, and ultimately powerless. Moses knew that and "reminded" God of that every time he got the chance.

Truly loving the people you lead may be one of the biggest challenges leaders face. For Moses, it doesn't seem to have been rooted in the fact that the people were particularly love-worthy but that the God Moses served was love-worthy, and could be put on display through these stiff-necked and rebellious people (Deuteronomy 31:27) more than through any other group.