The Tragedies of Failed Leadership
by Ezekiel Olukolajo
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TRAGEDIES OF FAILED LEADERSHIP!
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Exodus 32:1-6;
Towards the end of the four hundred and thirty years of sojourn of the children of Israel in Egypt, God began to search for a man unto whose hands He would commit the divine assignment of bringing His people out of the land of bondage into the Promised Land. God finally found Moses and entrusted him with the mandate to deliver and lead the people to the land of Canaan - a land flowing with milk and honey.
When Moses was commissioned with this great assignment, he considered himself unfit for the job for certain reasons: he was a stack stammerer who could hardly make a complete statement or express himself properly. As a result, he came up with a lot of excuses but the Lord was not ready for any of them. To solve his communication problems, the Lord instructed him to take along Aaron his brother who according to the scriptures could speak very well. Aaron was meant to act as mouthpiece and provide the needed supports for Moses in the fulfillment of the divine assignment God committed to his hand. As a leader in the midst of the people, he was also expected to provide spiritual guidance, direction and godly counsel.
At a particular time during the sojourn of the people in the wilderness, it was required that Moses separate himself to seek the face of God for several days on the mountain, so he trusted the leadership of the children of Israel into the hands of Aaron while he was away. It happened however that Moses delayed in returning against the expectation of everyone. During Mosesí absence, Aaron as a leader was meant to provide support in leading the children of Israel and that was the reason Moses entrusted him with the responsibility of standing in the gap. It appears however that Aaronís presence was not that relevant in the provision of direction, spiritual guidance and leadership needed to fill the gap in the absence of Moses.
Mosesí delay in returning really unveiled the real nature and personality of Aaron, the supposed spiritual leader, trusted with the destinies of over one million souls. The people could not endure the absence of Moses any longer so they pressed hard on Aaron to make them a god. The peopleís earnest request at this time was not water, food, cloth or any other physical thing as at other times, but a god. Why did the people ask for a god? It appears Aaron had failed in leading the congregation in deep and consistent worship of the Almighty God all the time Moses was away so much that the people became empty and had big vacuum created in their hearts. The vacuum needed to be filled; the longing needed to be stilled; the people longed for something to worship as an alternative, they asked for a god. They had water, food, shelter and clothing in abundance but they needed a god!
People still ask for gods even today! Why? When church leaders fail to lead people in the knowledge and worship of the true God, people are bound to ask for gods! As leaders and ministers of the gospel, we need to realize that the greatest need of our congregation is beyond miracles, healings, financial or physical breakthroughs which everyone seems to be pursuing now. All our prayers, sermons, activities and endeavours today in the end time church seem to centre majorly on these things so much that we have made them our thresholds for measuring success in the ministry. Miracles, healings, financial and physical breakthroughs are good and godly but they in themselves cannot satisfy the deep longing in the hearts of men for deep relationship with the Almighty God. Manís heart will continue to crave and long until it is able to find true satisfaction in God. This is the answer everyone entrusted with leadership of Godís people should long to provide. Since Aaron failed to provide the answer, the people had no choice but to ask for an alternative-a god.
Also, going through the account as given in the above passage, one cannot but wonder whose idea the golden calf was. Was it the peopleís idea or Aaronís idea? The people indeed asked for a god, but it is not on record that they gave Aaron a description or specification of how to make the golden calf. It seems that Aaron on his own knew exactly what a god looked like and how to go about making one! Where on earth did he come about the idea of how to make a god? It appears that images of gods still existed, even in the heart of this leader who was supposed to be a representative of God and guide men in the way of the Lord! What a tragedy!
It is apparent that the golden calf idol already existed in the core of Aaronís heart waiting for an opportunity to express itself! The golden calf was entirely Aaronís idea: its making, its fashioning, its design, its molding and finishing! The golden calf Aaron made was similar to the ones which the Egyptians served in those days. It is clear that Aaron was still filled with the ways and acts of Egypt; Egypt was not yet separated from him! What do you expect of a leader in whose heart images of gods and idols exist? Can he ever lead people to the true and living God when he himself still has images of idols resident in his heart? It is not surprising that Aaron could not lead the children of Israel in the worship of the true God while Moses was away; how could he have led the people to know someone he himself never knew? The situation is similar to the one presently witnessed in our generation. The church is being dragged in the mud everyday and plagued on every side because leaders, who are supposed to break down images of idols and goddess and bring people into close relationship with the true God, are themselves not free from idols. What a pity!
Aaronís errors were further compounded when he built an altar to the golden calf. What altar? An altar, not for the Almighty God, but for vain worship of idols which he made for the people. It is not surprising that the priesthood of Aaron and his generations after him was eventually rejected eternally by the Lord! If the earthly priesthood failed in matters relating to physical worship and service, how much more in that which relates to heaven and eternal destiny of men? The feasts that were exclusively meant to glorify the true God was thrown freely in vain worship of idols and gods. Aaron seemed to have forgotten that the Lord is a jealous God. He polluted the land with vain worship of idols.
A lot of church leaders and ministers still perform their priestly duties and ministerial assignments but there is the need to crosscheck whether these services are actually to the true and living God or vain gods of gold and silver. Some ministers of the gospel would be very reluctant to honour an invitation to preach or minister unless it is confirmed that proper arrangement has been made for a handsome honorarium and accommodation in a five star hotel. They are not like the master, the King of Kings who in humility accepted a manger as place of birth and abode!
The vain worship of idol anchored by Aaron also involved burnt offerings and peace offerings. Aaron still laid emphasis on offering and compelled people to offer burnt and peace offering unto idols as unto God. Aaron and the people were under serious delusion thinking that their offering was to the Lord when in actual fact they had been totally rejected by God. Obedience is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than fat of rams. Church leaders and ministers will not do people any good by encouraging them to bring offerings unto the Lord while they themselves have been rejected by God as a result of sin and unrighteousness.
In addition, Aaron and the people sat down to eat, drink and rose up to play! Vain worship of idols encouraged nothing but eating, drinking and playing. There is no consciousness of God in any of these things. When peopleís preoccupation and major concern shifts from the Almighty God unto eating, drinking, merry making and pleasure, it is a proof that idols are reigning in their hearts. Unfortunately, preachers and leaders in the end time church, no longer lay emphasis on the need for people to please and know God intimately, but on frivolities of life- fashion, food, merry making and pleasurable adventures as against deep desires for heaven and righteousness.
The leadership of Aaron, rather than guiding the children of Israel in the way of the Lord, succeeded in plunging them the more into utter darkness; his service rather than helping people find and fulfill Godís purpose, resulted in utter destruction of their destinies; his leadership was anything but a blessing to himself and the people he led. Aaron failed God, failed himself and his generation!
How can we explain the utter failure of this Ďservant of Godí ĖAaron? What explanations can we find for the pattern of the life he lived as a leader? Going through the foundation of Aaronís life and his antecedents, it would be discovered that he did not at any time have a personal encounter with God as did Moses. Unlike Moses who was thoroughly tried, prepared and furnished by the molding hands of God for complete forty years in the wilderness of Midian, it is not on record that Aaron went through any form of preparation, pruning or refining. His being was not at any time broken in Godís presence like Moses, who after being broken in Godís presence became the meekest man on earth as against a violent man that he used to be. It is not surprising therefore that idol still existed in Aaronís heart; it is not surprising that he could not lead the Israelites in the path of righteousness; it is not unexpected that it would be difficult for God to count on him to lead people into fulfillment of their destinies and purpose in life. It is not surprising that Aaron failed God and his generation.
The major set back of the end time church is that majority of people that lead Godís flocks, are people that have never had any personal encounter with God; they have neglected Godís seasons of thorough preparation and refining but are hasty to lead His people. Although they may be able to speak eloquently like Aaron, but they lack true qualities of righteousness and godliness which count in leading Godís people.
Some leaders actually went through a form of preparation process in the beginning of their ministry but opted out, refusing Godís refining process. The world cannot expect anything different from them still. Leaders and ministers of the gospel on whom the Almighty God can depend, are not necessarily made through seminaries and bible colleges but through consistent daily walk with God and thorough preparation in His furnace! We must submit ourselves totally unto God and His preparation process until He is through with us. Half-baked leaders would only succeed in doing more harms than good whilst attempting to work for the Lord. A leader who is not thoroughly prepared and furnished by God will not only make a shipwreck of his calling, he is equally bound to be an instrument of destruction of destinies of innocent men and women he attempts to lead.
The only way to succeed in our callings as leaders, on whom God depends to mold lives and destinies, is to submit unto His preparation. It is true that the preparation process is not easy, but those who submit themselves totally and go through patient it with patience, will always stand out in their generations. It is better not to attempt to assume any position of leadership when we know that we are not willing to submit ourselves to the molding hands of the Master. The molding hands of the Almighty God can indeed be rough, thorny, hard, and hot most times, but it is only in them our destiny can be made. God loves us dearly and would never desire we make shipwreck of our callings, let us submit ourselves daily to Godís thorough preparation and refining process. There is no other way. No short cut!
© Ezekiel Olukolajo
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Ezekiel, God has blessed you with wisdom, and it is evident in your writing and comments.