When we think of powerful leaders, we undoubtedly think of Moses. Scripture affirms this when it says, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10, NKJV). But even Moses needed a tent-kicker.
In Exodus 18, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, comes to visit him. Moses greets Jethro and then invites him into his tent to catch up on all that has happened to him since he left Midian, returned to Egypt, confronted Pharaoh (several times), and was miraculously delivered from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. Jethro’s arrival must’ve been such a wonderful refresher for Moses. For the first time in many months, Moses has someone with whom he can just kick it in his tent and share what is really going on! Notice what v. 8 tells us about their conversation: “Moses told his father-in-law about everything....and about all the hardships they had met along the way” (NIV). Moses was real with Jethro. He told him the good, the bad, and the ugly. Moses felt safe to tell Jethro about his struggles and his victories. A healthy tent-kicker can handle your mistakes and imperfections and love you in spite of them.
The nature of this relationship is so beautiful and one which we all should seek to attain. We all need someone with whom we can “kick it in our tent”. They get us. They know us: inside and out. This isn’t the person with whom you are real when you are wearing your leader hat. This isn’t the person with whom you are real when you wearing your church or your ministry hat. This isn’t even the person with whom you are real when you are wearing your spouse, parent, or career hat. This is the person who knows you and gets you when your head’s uncovered and you are having your very best hair day or your absolute worst one. For those of us who are married, your spouse should be one of those people to you and you should be one of those people to them. But truthfully, even after twenty-something years, there are still some female things about me that my husband still doesn’t completely get, which he will readily admit to you! Ladies need godly women who are tent kickers with them, and gentlemen need some godly studs.
Another test of a healthy tent kicker, is that they can delight in your miracles. How did Jethro respond to the news of all of the incredible things that God had accomplished through Moses? Scripture tells us he was delighted! There was no jealousy, no insecurity that rose up within Jethro, no anger that Moses’ God had demonstrated more power than the Midianite god whom Jethro served as a priest. Jethro was delighted for Moses. When God blesses you with an unexpected gift, or opens up the door for an incredible call upon your life, they are delighted for you. They delight in the LORD with you and for you. Your victory is their joy! Jethro made it a point to come and rejoice with Moses.
These kind of friendships don’t happen overnight. They don’t happen because you both like Mexican food and your kids go to school together. These kind of friendships take work. For those of us who are married, we understand this in a marital context, but we often think that deep and lasting friendships with others should just evolve if they are meant to be. Just like marriages don’t last if they are not regularly invested in, friendships won’t either. We have to be intentional about building them. Moses worked for Jethro for 40 years. There was a long history there! For many of us, we deeply desire these types of friendships with others, but we don’t want to intentionally carve out the time to build them. If we are truly committed to growing in godliness, tent kickers are indispensable.
Why, you ask? Because if there is nobody out there who knows the real you, then there is nobody out there holding you accountable. Not really, anyway. Sure maybe for a few external behaviors that you are trying to get a handle on, but not with issues of the heart. Tent kickers know what’s really going on inside of you, and they aren’t afraid to call you out on it. And you can trust what they are saying to you is born out of love and your best interest.
So let’s be honest with ourselves, and take some time for reflection:
Who is one of your tent kickers?
What is it about that person that allows them private access into your tent?
Who allows you inside of theirs? Why do you think they do so?
Are you willing to hold them accountable? if not, why not?
Are you prepared to delight in their success? How can you guard yourself against jealousy?
If you are hanging out in your tent with no earthly companions, take heart! This next passage of scripture is amazing! John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (NIV). See that word “dwelt”? The word that is used there intimates that Jesus resided as in a tent among His people. Do you get it? Jesus, the God-Man, the Eternal, Self-Existent One, Who clothed Himself in human flesh, came to earth. Why? So He could become your tent-kicker! I don’t care if you feel like you haven’t got a friend in world, you’ve got a tent-kicker and His Name is Jesus. He is the most important tent-kicker you and I will ever have! But He doesn’t want us dwelling in our tents alone with Him all the time, He wants us to invite some others to join our private party of two.
Ask God to open your eyes to someone around you that you can invite in! Remember, Jethro and Moses had a 40 year history together. No one wants to come into your tent and have you throw up all over them during their first visit! It takes time to be able to unload. But it starts by opening the door and inviting someone in………