In my life I have taught many students how to lead more productive and successful lives. My books about self-motivation and self-determination have been read by many adult learners seeking to improve their lives. The inspirational quotes and motivational prints I have created have been used by many people looking for a daily dose of encouragement and support. The advice I have given has empowered many individuals to persevere instead of giving up. In short, I have provided motivation for the world, one person at a time. I believe I have led a lot of people to their Promised Land.
Despite this, I have an eerie feeling that I am supposed to watch people cross over into the Promised Land, but I am not supposed to cross over with them. I call this my Moses Complex. If you know the story of Moses, you know that he led the Israelites out of Egypt. Along the way, he fought for the Israelites. He received the Ten Commandments and taught the Israelites. He led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Yet he was not allowed to enter with them. Instead, when his earthly duties were completed, he was taken up into heaven.
I don’t want this comparison to be misconstrued. I am not Moses, nor am I a leader of his magnitude. However, I do think my life has elements of Moses’ story and his “journey.” Just like Moses, I think I have been called to lead people to their Promised Land. Moses answered a call that encouraged him to become a leader. I answered a call that encouraged me to become a teacher. Moses had doubts about his ability to lead. I had doubts about my ability to lead. Moses motivated and inspired people to move forward against all odds. I motivate and inspire people to move forward against all odds. Moses saw the Promised Land, but did not cross into it. I saw the Promised Land…
Here is where my confusion lies. Am I going to enter the Promised Land, or am I on this earth to be the conduit that allows others to get there? Sometimes it feels like I will never get there. My Promised Land is out of reach. I am sure this is a “normal” feeling. Like many people, I am my own worst critic and I allow self-doubt to take control far too often. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like my Promised Land is my ability to help and serve others. So maybe I am already there! This is another aspect of my Moses Complex.
There are various complexes that psychologists claim can explain many human behaviors. We have heard of the Oedipus (forbidden sexual desires) complex, the Napoleon (lack of size or stature) complex, and the Superman (unhealthy sense of responsibility) complex. But is there a Moses complex? I did a little research to find out. It turns out that there is a Moses Complex, and I am not the only one who thinks about it. I stumbled upon a blog post by Dean Waggenspack that summarizes the Moses Complex perfectly (I encourage you to read it here). One line in particular stood out for me…
“But because Moses has the knowledge, experience, insight and leadership role it should be apparent to all others that they should follow him.” (Waggenspack, 2012)
This my friends is where my hang up lies. It is the core of my Moses Complex. People tell me that my teaching and writings is great- knowledge. I have been told I have a good combination of abilities and expertise- experience. I have people who trust me enough to ask me for advice and seek inspiration- insight. I have been put in countless positions where I have needed to guide and direct people and their decision-making processes- leadership. Therefore, “it should be apparent to all others that they should follow (me).”
The irony in all of this is we never know how many people actually “follow” our lead. It is impossible to know, especially in today’s social media driven society. Sure we can check our “likes” and “followers”, but how can we determine how many people take and apply the things we have to offer. For example, who knows what impact their generosity has on others? A wise woman once said if we knew the true impact we have on others, our heads would explode! So I guess it is best we don’t know. In my case…
- Do I have a million “followers”?
- Are people in countries around the world actively reading my blog posts?
- How many people bought one of my books and referred it to one of their friends?
- Is one of my motivational prints hanging in a frame in someone’s home or office?
- What happened after someone used my advice and it worked for them?
If I knew the answers to these questions, maybe I could shed my Moses Complex. Maybe I am meant to show the way, but not to actually get to the Promised Land. Maybe I am meant to enter with those I am helping on their journey. Maybe I am already in the Promised Land. Maybe my head is about to explode!
Waggenspack, D. (2012, December 12). Teaching– The Moses Complex [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://deanwaggenspack.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/teaching-the-moses-complex/