Exodus 32: A study in leadership practices

Today we examined how Moses and Aaron react to the Israelites’ desire to engage in idolatrous practices.  Aaron and Moses both respond in divergent ways – looking into their responses brought home a message to the youth in seminary.

First, we took a look at Aaron’s response, which was somewhat humorous.  From the text we read:

20 And he took the acalf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and bstrawed it upon the cwater, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?

22 And Aaron said, Let not the aanger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are bset on cmischief.

23 For they said unto me, aMake us bgods, 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.

24 And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf (italics added).

Essentially Aaron is saying, “look Moses, you know the people – they are up to no good.  They are always looking to get into trouble, I’m just giving them what they want.  You can’t blame me if I am just going along with what they are all clamoring for.”  I especially like the sentence where Aaron says, “hey Moses, we just put in our gold, and the calf just jumped out of the fire!”  We talked about how youth do this sometimes.  As a father of four boys, my son named ‘not me’ sure does a lot of damage around the house!

Essentially Aaron is skirting taking the blame.  The more Moses points out the importance of doing the right thing and taking ownership for his actions, the more Aaron comes back blaming others for the debacle he helped to create.

Moses, on the other hand, takes a different approach.  From the text we read:

31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them agods of gold.

32 Yet now, if thou wilt aforgive their sin—; and if not, bblot me, I pray thee, out of thy cbook which thou hast dwritten (italics added).

Moses stands up and essentially says, “Lord, yes we have messed up.  Please forgive this people.  But if you do not, then take me instead.  I will take the punishment you have in store for the children of Israel.  I am their leader, and I should have done better in preparing them for my brief leave of absence.”

Moses exemplifies what it means to be a real leader.  He takes the brunt of the blame, and then offers himself up as a scapegoat even though he really had nothing to do with their behavior.  Moses is a true leader.  We briefly talked about ways in which the youth can model this type of behavior in their lives.

Where have we seen these leadership styles in our lives?  What examples from sports, politics, the news, and the scriptures can you find where we see these behaviors modeled?  What is the result when leaders act as Moses?










What is going on with the calf in Exodus 32?

About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
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