As I continue my journey of reading the Bible in a year, I came across one of the most tragic episodes in Israel’s history. While Moses is enjoying a wonderful encounter with God – the people fail again so badly.
This was Aaron’s ‘big break’ and he handles responsibility very poorly. He had a great chance to prove his leadership yet this becomes one of his worst moments in life. And to be fair, it happens so very often to any of us. We ‘blow’ unique chances at exactly the most inopportune moments. As always – maybe there are some lessons for us:
Beware of the ‘big break’ – they often say that you are most vulnerable when you are doing well, when you enjoy success and when the world seems to be your oyster. Maybe Aaron was so flattered and overwhelmed emotionally by the chance to lead that he either lost his sense of discernment or simply became arrogant. And that’s when he became vulnerable and stopped leading. Probing question: ‘how do you respond to success and promotions?’
Beware of impatience – the people wanted an instant, 3D worship experience. Just like the pagan nations around them. Moses was delayed for too long and all he would bring down was a boring set of tablets. Not as fancy and shiny as the golden calf they built. So, DIY is in order. They cannot wait and they make it happen. Probing question:’ are you getting ahead of God and doing His work for Him?’
Beware of ‘mob rule’ – this was so rushed and so ad hoc. No leadership meeting. No praying. No waiting. Just people crowding Aaron out and applying peer pressure. They were unhappy and they were numerous. They could easily become violent. Survival instinct kicks in and the crowd have their way. Probing question: ‘who do you live to please?’
Beware of ‘negative momentum’ – any leader reading this could identify in some measure with Aaron’s situation. things have a way of getting out of hand and troubles easily escalate. Was Aaron really prepared to take it that far or things simply went from bad to worse? Just as much as positive momentum will take to places you have never even dreamed of – so can negative momentum take to your worst nightmare. Probing question: ‘if i take this route – what is the worst case scenario?’
Beware of substitutes/fakes – this must be so tempting for any leader. To have a crowd – and one that is pleased with you (Mr. Popular) and a crowd that are having a good time. Most leaders dream of this. Yet for Israel and Aaron – it is all fake. They do not respect him and trust him as a leader – they simply use him as a push-over. They are not having a worship time – they just indulge in a ‘copy-cat’ worship experience common to the pagan nations around. Probing question: ‘Is that experience authentic or a cheap copy?’