Jump Start # 2039
Exodus 32:25 “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control– for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies.”
One of the popular topics today is leadership. It’s talked about in business. It’s the makeup of government. It’s necessary within a congregation. Of all the animals in the created world, God describes His people as sheep. We are not turtles. We are not deer. We are not gators. We are not birds of a feather that flock together. We are sheep. And, sheep need shepherds. The leadership term that God uses in the congregation is overseers and shepherds. Sheep aren’t driven like cattle. They are not left to their own and somehow they find their way back like homing pigeons. They need to be guided, led and watched over.
So, sprinkled throughout our Bibles are shepherd leadership passages. Jesus is the good shepherd, that knows His sheep. The Lord is my shepherd. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me. The shepherds of Ezekiel were rebuked for not taking care of the people. Shepherds are supposed to lead.
Our verse today, is another that falls under the category of leadership. Moses was gone. Aaron was in charge. Aaron didn’t take charge. He didn’t lead. He followed the people. When Moses returned, there was a golden calf and the people were worshipping an idol. Had did this happen? How did it happen so fast? What was Aaron doing? Did he try to stop them? Did he teach them? Where was the leadership?
Aaron reply was, “They said to me, ‘make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” Our verse adds more pain to the situation. It states, “…the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control.” The situation resembles out of control kids who dangle their parents as puppets, crying and throwing a fit until they get what they want. They make a scene in stores. They are loud in church. They are disruptive and interruptive at home. The parents are along for the ride and the kids are running the show. Out of control.
Aaron was Moses’ brother. Instead of defending God’s appointed leader, he let the people have a golden calf.
There are lessons we learn from this:
First, the church is not a democracy. People do not understand that today and they didn’t get that in Aaron’s day. Back then, the concept of a democracy was not known. We know it all too well today. The voice of the people. Rights. My rights. Democracy is the bedrock of our constitution and the freedoms this country is structured and built upon. But democracy doesn’t work within a congregation. The will of the people is not what we follow. Rather, it’s a theocracy, which is the will of God. In Aaron’s time, the people wanted an idol. They got what they wanted. Today, churches are bowing to pressure to accept same-sex marriages. “It’s what the people want,” is the defense. They are bowing to organizational structures that are not found in the Bible. In business, giving the customer what they want works. In spiritual matters, giving the people what they want leads to disobedience and sin. Today, people want a church to be a school, a restaurant, a bookstore, a counseling center, a day care. Might as well toss in a place to get the dog groomed, do your taxes and get your oil changed in the car. Multi service. The wholeness of a person. Sounds great. But is that what the church is supposed to be? Running short of money this month, call a church, they are supposed to give out free money. That’s what people think. That’s what you are there for. It’s funny we don’t think this way about other places. You don’t complain that the Post office doesn’t serve hamburgers and shakes. Why not? The answer is obvious. That’s not what the Post office is about. Why can’t we get that through when it comes to the church? It is supposed to praise God and prepare us for Heaven.
Second, leading means to take charge. One doesn’t have to be mean, loud or threatening to lead. But he must be visible, setting an example and by his character, established trust. Aaron should have answered the people. Aaron should have reminded the nation about patience. Instead of calling for gold to make an idol, Aaron should have called for a prayer session. Let’s get our minds back to where they ought to be. When leaders do not know what to do, the people will take charge.
The same is true in the home and in the church. Down every isle of the store, the child wants this and that. Parents can’t constantly cave in to the pleas of the child. It will spoil the child and crash the budget. Parents must lead. Plan ahead. Think it out. Keep the child occupied. Shouting back doesn’t seem to work. In the church, there will always be some who want to change things. Why can’t we do this? I want to have this? Leaders take people to the Bible. Here’s what we do. Here is what we are about. Remind. Teach. Show. Don’t ignore questions. Don’t intimidate folks. Lead.
Third, not every can lead. Moses came back and got things back under control. Aaron wasn’t Moses. Even though they were brothers, Aaron couldn’t lead like Moses. Joshua could. When Joshua takes over, decades later, he shows the skills that Moses had. All of this reminds us that not everyone should be in leadership roles. You see this at work. Some are just not any good at this. They can’t manage people. Someone comes with a request and they tend to favor some over others. They bend the rules for some. They play favorites. It’s messy and leads to jealousy and toxic behavior. The same is true at church. Not everyone can lead. Some are really nice guys, but they lack leadership skills. They don’t have a backbone to tell people “no.” Some wilt under pressure and avoid confrontations at all costs. Those are not the traits that will bring out the best in others, nor lead them as God wants.
With leaders, there needs to be followers. Leaders must know God’s will and be willing to put God before all things. Leadership is not about power, prestige or control. It’s about helping people. It’s about serving. It’s about making things better. It’s about changing family destinies for eternity.
What a mess Aaron created and allowed. He wasn’t cut out for leading. There are lessons we ought to see in this. There are some in leadership roles today, who are not leaders. They, like Aaron, are creating and allowing messes. Congregations are dying, while the leaders are asleep at the wheel. People are upset and leaving and leaders don’t know why.
It’s time for leaders to lead as God intended.