They Won’t Always Want to Follow the Leader… Lessons in Leadership

If you are a leader I don’t need to tell you, leadership can be difficult.  Yes, it has its moments where you could not imagine doing anything else.  However, it also has its moments when you are begging to do anything but.  Staying on track requires a passion for people and a vision for God’s mission.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in Exodus 32, it is the story of the Golden calf.  Let me catch you up real quick if you don’t know the story.  God has just used Moses & Aaron to lead the Israelites out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage.  For 400 years they were salves, making bricks and facing extreme oppression.  After leading them out of captivity God calls Moses up on a mountain to speak to him and give Him the Law.

While on the mountain with God, Moses leaves Aaron in charge of the people in the camp.  It does not take the people long to forget.  Talk about short term memory, they just saw Pharaoh’s army wiped out by a giant wall of water, and already they have forgotten.  God knew this would be human nature; he will even warn Israel of this later.

NIV Deuteronomy 6:10-12  10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied,  12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

In other words when things are going well, you are going to forget what God has done for you.  Basically, this is where the people are in Exodus 32, they have forgotten.  So the people are impatient because they do not know where Moses is, so they go to Aaron, the next in line.  They tell him Moses isn’t coming back, so let’s just start over with new God’s.  This is where the “accidental golden calf” comes in to play.  Aaron takes their jewelry, forms it into a calf, giving the people what they wanted.  Aaron then tells them, the calf is okay for today but tomorrow we will have a festival to the LORD.

God tells Moses he needs to return to the camp because the people have lost control.  Moses and Joshua come down from the mountain and Moses is furious with the people of Israel and throws the tablets to the ground breaking them in two.  Try explaining that one to God.

Moses: Umm, God.
God: Yes Moses?
Moses: Do you remember those tablets you gave me?
God: Yes?
Moses:  yeah, um, see Aaron and the people….

Anyway, sorry for that tangent…  So Moses is furious at the people, but ultimately he is furious with Aaron.  He says to Aaron, NIV Exodus 32:21 “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”  WOW, what a question!  Think about it from the stand point of Aaron.  “I did not lead them into sin, it was not my idea.”  They came to him and asked.  It was not his suggestion.  But Moses used the word “lead,” because Aaron allowed it to go on.  I believe here we find one of the most important lessons of leadership in the question Moses asks, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?”  As leaders God has not called us to LEAD people where they WANT to go, we are called to LEAD people where they NEED to go.  There is a huge difference between the two.  People, including leaders, lose focus on their direction from time to time and the job of the leader is to step in and nudge people back along the right path.

As Aaron learned, this is never easy, because many times making the best decision means making the unpopular decision.  Aaron made the popular decision, he allowed the people to do what they wanted.  To lead means you are out in front and if you are out in front you will be shot at.  Therefore, leadership requires courage.  It is so important in leadership that we keep our mind focused on Christ and the mission he has called us to.  When we lose sight of that mission it becomes very easy to give in to what others want.  It is imperative in leadership that we keep our walk with God fresh, allowing him to lead and give us vision.  We must allow God to lead our path because we cannot lead people where we have not been our self.  The bottom line, Leaders Lead!

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