Skip to content

Numbers 11:10-15 “Kill me, I pray Thee, I am not able to bear all this alone”

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 

11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 

12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 

13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 

14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 

15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

The burden of leadership weighed heavily on Moses as he led the Israelites through the wilderness. After leaving Egypt, the people looked to him for guidance and provision in their new unfamiliar surroundings. Though now free, they complained about the living conditions and pressed Moses to meet their expectations, often unrealistic. Moses felt the lonely pressure of leadership acutely, as if he were a nurse carrying a needy infant day and night. Isolated and overburdened, Moses was reaching his breaking point under the constant demands of the people.

Pastoral/Parental Burnout

Like Moses, church leaders and parents today often feel the heavy burden of responsibility for those they shepherd. There can be a tendency to want to project strength and minimize struggles. However, underneath the stoicism, many experience loneliness, isolation, and moments of being completely overwhelmed. While there may be some nobility in always projecting steadfast resilience, there is also something profoundly human and refreshing when a leader or parent is honest that they’ve reached a breaking point. Admitting weakness paradoxically demonstrates strength. The church community can then step up to lighten the load and support their leaders rather than assuming perfection. By acknowledging the weight, church leaders allow themselves to be human. They set an example of humility and openness that invites compassion. Just as God sustained Moses, the church body upholding its leaders in their humanity reflects the divine care we all need.

Just as with church leaders, parents can feel pressure to always appear strong and hide the full weight of responsibility. However, being honest about reaching a breaking point takes courage and shows strength. When parents are authentic about the strain, exhaustion, and overwhelm they sometimes feel, it opens the door for compassion and support. Admitting they can’t do it all alone gives permission for others to step in with a listening ear. It’s a reminder that parenting is a shared effort – we all need community. By being vulnerable, parents free themselves from the illusion of perfection and invite understanding. Their humanity connects us all. Just as God sustained Moses in the wilderness, we can uplift each other through the daily trials of parenthood when we’re willing to say “I’ve reached my limit.” There is profound grace and freedom in that.

Honesty in Prayer

In prayer, we often feel pressure to censor our real feelings and put on a pious front to impress God. But God sees right through inauthenticity. Like Moses, who was ready to die under the weight of leadership, we do God and ourselves a disservice when we coat our prayers in spiritual performance rather than honest expression. God can handle our raw emotions – even a desire to die! Pretending to have it all together misses the point of prayer as intimate connection. God seeks relationship with the real us. Authentic prayer opens that channel. Moses models bringing the fullness of human experience – bitterness, despair, grief – to God without pretense. God accepts us as we are. Honest prayers like Moses’ allow divine love to meet us in our deepest places of need. Pretending strength produces isolation. Admitting weakness opens us to compassion and grace.