BREAKTHROUGH LEADERSHIP — the solution to Action Paralysis

Determination, Resolve, Purpose = DRIVE!!!

One evening many years ago I was driving the long stretch of California’s coastal 101 Highway that connects the Bay Area to Los Angeles. Dense fog developed at twilight. There were few cars traveling that night. If I’d had a hunch the fog would be so dense, I would have taken the inland I-5 Interstate. Turned out I’d exchanged vehicle congestion for visual obscurity. Not fun. 

I was stuck, tired, and seriously wondering if I’d make it through without an incident. Any stopping would be a challenge as visibility was almost nil. I was tempted to pull over and wait it out, but saw no safe opportunity. All I could do was hold my course as it got darker, and darker, and darker.

Suddenly, out of the fog loomed a “miracle”. The tail lights of an 18-wheeler came dimly into view… straight ahead of me!

AHA! My salvation! With a seasoned semi driver in front of me, if I followed just far enough back not to lose sight, and not close enough to put myself at risk, I might be able to follow the truck to some logical stopping point. Anything in the way on the road would not be mine to deal with. I was sheltered from what little oncoming traffic might come struggling through the fog. This continued for several hours without a break, until the fog cleared. I wondered if the trucker had been aware he was being followed. I imagined he was. 

Sometimes we just need a light. And sometimes, the unexpected needs to happen when a situation is blocked.


Decades after the driving episode I just related, the fate of the entire world is hanging at  one of the most precarious situations in history — at the brink of disaster on multiple fronts. Populations on all continents are victims of the accumulated political, economic and social manipulations of powers they have no control over. Every illusion of stability has crumbled. Leaders who should not have been trusted have misled, and those who would correct course meet with inconceivable opposition and grave dangers.

Hopes of prosperity and the pursuit of happiness have been replaced with helplessness, despair and cynicism. Some populations have been in that condition for a very long time; to others it is a shock. No one can see through the fog, and a deliberately orchestrated spirit of fear has prevailed for the past two years especially. 

Is there any hope?

Breakthroughs are made for impasses. In fact when all seems lost, the unexpected must rise to rescue. It is the only way.


Among various historic parallels, one particularly comes to mind as an allegory to the present need. I never could have visualized the form this breakthrough would take, but it is reminiscent of what one single soldier named Phinehas accomplished at a time when the 12-tribe nation of Israel became unmanageable even under its powerful leader, Moses.

Who was Phinehas and what actions did he take to break the stalemate?

Phinehas was a grandson of the high priest Aaron and son of Eleazar (not to be confused with the vagrant, lawless son of Eli whose name was also Phinehas). 

The nation’s leadership had followed the false prophet Balaam into idolatry and immorality (Baal worship). By their example the entire nation was led astray. They had forgotten God and embraced many evils. On the surface it appeared that all was lost. At the time of the unexpected event a plague came upon the nation which killed 24,000 of the worst offenders (out of an estimated population of 1.5 Million).

Phinehas’s intervention is recorded in the Old Testament book of Numbers, chapter 25. More illuminating details, well worth reading, are found in the corresponding account of  the ancient historian Josephus (“Antiquities of the Jews”, Book 4, Chapter 6, sections 10-12). It is not within the scope of this short article to reprint those passages, but readers are strongly encouraged to verify them as they bear a remarkable comparison  to the circumstances we face today. As King Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun.” The past repeats itself, a good reason to study history. 

The blistering question that struck me many years ago about this matter of Phinehas was: “WHY wasn’t Moses doing anything?” He was still the leader of his nation. His faith was not tarnished and God’s power not diminished. The former Prince of Egypt was locked in a state of political “action paralysis”, but why? What was needed to change the situation?

Josephus’s account clarifies the situation. The corruption problem was so large, like a massive infection, so deeply embedded, that an incomplete action would only have rebounded into larger problems. All possible actions had been contemplated and deemed inadequate. Anything Moses tried was going to backfire. And as today, when enemies are dominant and ruthless, woe to the one who tries to expose and oppose them. Like a cancer that must be eradicated 100%, there needs to be a complete overturning of the wrong course, and the people must be involved for change to be effective. They have to be motivated to act, and numbers matter.

But the people need a light, maybe something to lead them through the fog. Maybe some trucks?

The historian Josephus records the precise moment when Zimri, leader of the tribe of Simeon, spews an outrageously insolent public speech against Moses (details in the Josephus text), and the honorable Phinehas has had enough. He does not ask permission, and he is not rebuked later for his action, but he takes control. Later he and his posterity are greatly honored for what he initiates. As one man, Phinehas “spearheads” the clean-up of the nation. He rises up under righteous inspiration and eliminates the arrogant prince and his complicit companion, and the snowball rolled from there… because the people got on board.

Also the plague was stopped in its tracks, after the evil was purged, and Phinehas was granted God’s “covenant of peace” for his actions and leadership of the other men who joined him. The nation entered a new beginning. The plague marked the end of the first generation after the Exodus, and a new census was taken to mark the rebirth of the nation. It was a turning point before entering the Promised Land (Number 26)

So in 2022, when all seemed at a standstill, and the people had suffered under unconscionable wrongs done against them, the truckers hit the road, and others joined, and others helped, and many more prayed… because the zeal of Phinehas was in their hearts to deliver their families, their people, and their nations from the grip of tyranny.

May we never forget…

Copyright 2022 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Sharing of this article for its intended purposes is permitted with appropriate credits. 

See our blog The Power of One” for individual encouragement.

Photo Credits:

Blue semi in lead:  Photo 120663639 @ Carolyn Franks/

Dense fog: Photo 9704268 @ Trinuch Chareon/

Truck in fog: Photo 18465616 @ Prochasson Frederic/

“Moses mountain”:  Photo 120663639 @ Carolyn Franks/

Trucks/cars in snowstorm: Photo 18080732 @ Karen Foley/

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