The Weight of Spiritual Leadership
I’ve been reading the book of Exodus lately and came upon the story of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. It was during this time that Moses went up the mountain to meet the Lord who was about to give him the Ten Commandments. Moses left Aaron in charge of the people while Moses met God.
Because of the sinfulness of the people – they asked Aaron to make them a god because they were afraid that Moses might have died already after not seeing them for a few days.
32 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
With the idolatrous rebellion of the people, the Lord asked Moses to go down and see for himself what the noise was all about. Moses and Joshua were shocked to see the Israelites worshipping another god. They seemed to have forgotten the mighty works of the God who took them out of Egypt.
Exodus 32:21-23English Standard Version (ESV)
21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’
It was clear in this story that the fault belonged to the people and Aaron who lead them to worship other gods. But I was surprised at who took the blame for the sins of the people.
Exodus 32:30-35English Standard Version (ESV)
30 The next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33 But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. 34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”35 Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.
Moses confronted the people of their sin and went before the Lord to intercede for the sins of the Israelites. Then he made a strange request:
32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”
Moses took ownership and leadership of the situation. He knew it wasn’t his sin but because he led the people and loved the people in spite of their stubbornness – he asked God also to blot out his name.
In this story, we see the weight that leadership carries. Spiritual leadership is not just doing Bible studies, preparing weekly sermons, visiting the sick and praying but it also carries with it a lot of responsibility. It is about giving the people direction, reminding them of the vision of the land God has promised. Spiritual leadership requires patience, endurance, and perseverance.
Leaders – God has tasked us to lead people. We are in the people industry. People matter to God. And God has anointed us to lead these people even if we feel like giving up. Imagine what Moses went through but he persevered. It was not the position of leadership that made Moses declare to blot his name out because of the sins of the people, but it was the compassion and the burden of leadership. Moses saw the people as his own. He left the luxury of Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery.
Prayer: Lord – make me like Moses in this story. Give me a heart that would love the people you have entrusted to me. Some people might not be easy to lead but let me love them anyway as Christ loved the church. Lord, also give me a sense of responsibility that I am anointed and called to lead the flock you have given me. Holy Spirit- empower me to do the work of God. In Jesus name – Amen!