Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: Leadership during the delay

Pastor's Pastor: Leadership during the delay

Leaders demonstrate their character more clearly in adversity than in prosperity. Contrast the vacillation of Aaron with the faithfulness of Moses during Israel's delayed expectations.

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Leaders demonstrate their character more clearly in adversity than in prosperity. Contrast the vacillation of Aaron with the faithfulness of Moses during Israel's delayed expectations.

"When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. 'Look,' they said, 'make us some gods who can lead us. This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared. We don't know what has happened to him'" (Exod. 32:1, NLV).

Fed up with waiting, the people demanded immediate action. Moses was out of sight and they were out of faith. Unfortunately, when he should have stood strong, Aaron caved to their demands for visible, multiple gods and collected their offerings.

"Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded and tooled it into the shape of a calf. The people exclaimed, 'O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt'" (verse 4). Although he would later claim that a miraculous occurrence produced the golden calf, Scripture describes Aaron actively fashioning the idol and, subsequently, leading the congregation in false worship.

"When Aaron saw how excited the people were about it, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, 'Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.' So the people got up early the next morning to sacrifice. . . . After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and indulged them selves in pagan revelry" (verses 5, 6).

Heaven, however, was not caught unaware by their rebellion.

"Then the Lord told Moses, 'Quick! Co down the mountain! The people you brought from Egypt have defiled them selves. They have already turned from the way I commanded them to live. They have made an idol shaped like a calf, and they have worshiped and sacrificed to it. They are saying, These are your gods, 0Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.' Then the Lord said, 'I have seen how stub born and rebellious these people are. Now leave me alone so my anger can blaze against them and destroy them all. Then I will make you, Moses, into a great nation instead of them'" (verses 7-10).

The wages of sin is death, and God was fully prepared to penalize Israel for their rebellion, a sin He declares equal to witchcraft. But as a true pastor, Moses began to intercede, asking that his own life be cut off if God could not spare the people. Moses even urged God's own reputation as reason to spare the people. "But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God not to do it. 'The Egyptians will say, God tricked them into coming to the mountains so he could kill them and wipe them from the face of the earth. Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible dis aster you are planning against your people! Remember your covenant.' So the Lord withdrew His threat" (verses 11-14).

Just as God had previously respond ed to Abraham's entreaties for Sodom, He now extended mercy in response to Moses' plea. Mercy did not avert judgment, however. "Moses saw the calf and the dancing. In terrible anger, he threw the stone tablets to the ground, smashing them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf they had made and melted it in the fire. And when the metal had cooled, he ground it into powder and mixed it with water. Then he made the people drink it" (verses 19, 20).

Notice their radically different leadership styles as Moses demands accountability from Aaron, who attempts to shift the blame for his own behavior to the people. "What did the people do to you?" he demanded. "How did they ever make you bring such terrible sin upon them?" (verse 21).

"Don't get upset, sir," Aaron replied. "You yourself know these people and what a wicked bunch they are. They said to me, 'Make us some gods to lead us, for some thing has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt' So / told them, 'Bring me your gold earrings.' When they brought them to me, I threw them into the fire and out came this calf!" (verses 22- 24). Imagine! Aaron's apostasy is so bound up with the rebellion that he declares his own efforts (the basis of every false religion is salvation by works) to be a miraculous consequence.

Aaron's failure in leadership, coupled with the nation's rebellion, demanded a call for repentance and reformation, especially in light of the scandal their behavior had brought upon God's name and reputation in full view of nonbelieving enemies. So Moses con fronted the issue directly.

"When Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control and much to the amusement of their enemies, he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, 'All of you who are on the Lord's side, come over here and join me.' And all the Levites came" (verses 25, 26).

Today, when our Lord's return appears delayed, God still seeks leaders who will discern the truth, stand for right, and call for radical faithfulness to God's plan. How will you and I lead?

Advertisement - Ministry in Motion 300x250

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

July/August 2005

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

How leaders can keep busy-and get nothing done!

How leaders can get in control of how productive they are.

The story of Pastor Alpha: becoming an emotionally intelligent pastoral leader

How a pastor needs to use his/her emotional intelligence in order to show better leadership.

The ABCs of everyday spiritual leadership

Lessons about spiritual leadership from every letter of the alphabet.

The rationale for grounded leadership

How valid is it to assert that the canonical declaration "God is love" not only constitutes the most inclusive statement about God but also conclusively identifies the total essence, function, and ends of God's leadership of His entire creation?

Knight's Law applied to church leadership

About 25 years ago I decided to try my hand at developing some cryptic and esoteric sagacity of my own. The result: Knight's Law, with two corollaries for church leaders.

A radical approach to becoming a great leader

The challenge for many leaders is that we don't have the fortitude to step up to the plate to become the type of leader that people trust. The following story is true. It's a potential inspiration to any leader ready to make real changes in his or her life, and it gives understanding of what makes a good leader great.

Help for spiritual leaders in hard times

Clergy today are having a difficult time! Congregations are harder to serve. They are of greater diversity and have higher expectations. Ministers are caught between traditional values and outlooks and a high-pressure array of daunting innovation and moral uncertainty, all easily identifiable in any one congregation. The pastor is no longer the parson, almost universally looked up to and respected by those under his or her care.

Serving significantly as leaders

Anyone willing to pay the price can enhance and expand their leadership skills, but what helps a leader to last?

Spiritual leaders and the multicultural mosaic

Fasten your seat belts-but whatever you do, don't close your eyes. The prognosticators of a future pluralistic society have been proved to be true prophetic voices heralding a rapidly altering world in the supercharged information age. Change is taking place with such speed that our theology and ethics are being outpaced, struggling to keep up with the exploding proliferation of innovation and technology, and the massive social evolution that sweeps in behind it.

Mission and unity: the challenge for the church today

Is it possible to maintain unity in an organization this large and this diverse?

Balanced pastoral leadership: Healing the healers

What are the marks of a well-balanced, healthy pastoral minister whose work and leadership results in the practice of good ministry? My experience in working with and training pastors leads me to list four teen important marks.

Leading adaptive change

How pastors can lead a congregation to change.

Leading across culture: The dynamics of deeper-level change

Leaders, particularly spiritual leaders, are challenged today in unprecedented ways, but none any more challenging than the necessity of being a leader across varied cultures.

The way it could be: leadership development in ministerial education

If you could redesign seminary education, what would you wish for?

Learning leaders: insights from organizational studies

Leaders of faith-based institutions share many things in common with for-profit business or not-for-profit leadership.Church-based leaders also carry a unique responsibility: the unsolicited responsibility of representing another dimension of human consciousness and experience-God and His kingdom.

Pastor as leader: job impossible?

I am not a pastor. I do not want to be a pastor. I don't even understand how a pastor can possibly do his job with all of us "bosses" sitting in the congregation,each with ideas about how he should minister. He must feel pulled in all directions at once. His is surely the most perplexing, irritating, inspiring, uplifting, disgusting, stressed-filled occupation in the world. Maybe we who are sitting in the congregation need to sit up and take notice of our pastor's profession and treat it with the respect it deserves.

Earn a master's degree "InMinistry"

Seventh-day Adventist pastors in North America have an outstanding educational option available from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. Unfortunately, few know about or take advantage of it. It's a virtually free Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAP. Min.) degree.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)