Nov16WedNovember 16, 2016
What does it take in order to be an effective leader?
This question, although not specifically mentioned, seems to be one of the primary, underlying questions swirling around our country right now in the wake of last week’s Presidential election. People are coming up with various conclusions about the effectiveness of President Obama and speculating about the coming years under the President-Elect’s leadership.
But let’s set the politics of our nation aside and focus on the leadership of Moses and Aaron from our Daily Scripture Reading (Exodus 32) this week.
While Moses was in the company of the Lord on the top of Mount Sinai, Aaron, Moses’ brother, was left in charge of the nation. The people quickly grew restless during this temporary leadership change and began to insist that a false, material god lead them in a new direction. Evidently, although Aaron was in charge, they did not see him as an apt leader. Nor did they believe that God, who felt distant from them now, was available to give them sufficient direction. Instead they wanted a metal god – just like the Egyptians and surrounding tribes.
Aaron proceeded to listen to the desire of the people, form a golden calf and allow God’s people to indulge in rebellious, synchronistic worship. Needless to say, Moses was incredibly disappointed and angry when he found out what was taking place in his absence.
I presume that each one of us have a desire to be an effective leader – even if the arena for our leadership is quite small. This story from Exodus 32 reminds us of two detours which can easily interrupt faithful, godly leadership. First, Aaron formed his decision to make a golden calf based upon the complaints of the people. Now certainly there is a need for us to accept constructive criticism from those around us. Leaders do need to be teachable. However, an effective leader doesn’t try to please everyone. An effective leader seeks to do what is best for as many as possible – even if that means upsetting people. Sometimes the best decision is the least popular decision (like insisting that your children finish their vegetables before being excused from the table.)
Secondly, Aaron lost sight of the fact that God had already given them instructions. Their task now was to trust those instructions and simply wait until God’s prompting to leave the mountain. Lack of faith leads to impatient leadership. Impatient leaders tend to suppress God’s truth and do their own thing. Which, in turn, cultivates a community which only practices self-centered, spiritual rebellion against God's sovereign plan.
Exodus 32 would have been a much different story if Aaron had set aside the faithless complaints of the people, sought to do what was best and clung to God’s Word with a prayerfully patient heart.
That is a lesson which we need to take to heart.
As you face this week, set aside the complaints of the people, cling to God’s Word and patiently seek His direction as you step into your various responsibilities. Perhaps this may even help us know how to pray for the various leaders who are in authority over us. May we continue to grow into effectively and Godly leaders in the midst of a chaotic and confused culture.