Read Numbers 32.
So, the tribal families of Reuben and Gad made a proposal to Moses to settle there. The descendants of Joseph were divided according to his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48). Each was referred to as the "half tribe". The half tribe of Manasseh joined the proposal.
Moses' first reaction was anger. He interpreted this proposal as a divisive threat to national unity and as a turning back on God's plan for
Israel. The basis for his quick reaction was due to
their father's failure to go forward into the land after the report of the
spies in Numbers 13-14. That sin
resulted in the nation wandering in the wilderness for decades and the loss of
an entire generation of people.
Moses' concerns were all legitimate. As the leader, he felt the weight of responsibility to keep the nation together and moving forward. As a man of God, he carried a passionate desire to do what God wanted to get done.
To their credit, the tribes involved carefully explained their reasoning for the proposal. Further they committed themselves to national unity and the conquest of the land on the west side of the
Jordan. Then, Moses made the agreement with them in
the hearing of Joshua, Moses' successor, and Eleazar, the High Priest. With the change in leadership this was
crucial. Later in the book of Joshua
this agreement was forgotten and misunderstood almost to the point of civil
Lessons for leaders:
1. Listen to your people. Know what they are thinking. Know their dreams, ideas, and aspirations.
2. Ask good questions. Show respect for others by endeavoring to understand their views and why they would say those things. It is hard for leaders not to be defensive of their own ideas and ways of doing things.
3. Learn from the past, but try not to react to changes based upon previous bad experiences.
4. Give people freedom to be themselves, to think and act. Someone else may have a good idea that fits them better and serves the needs of others better than your expectation.
5. Set the guidelines or warnings by anticipating the "what ifs".
6. Be sure others are aware of the agreement. This safe guards the organization in case the leadership changes.
7. When the answer needs to be "no" be sure that everyone understands that you are really saying "yes" to something better.