Taking ResponsibilityDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
“But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!”
Today I finish several reflections on Exodus 32, the story of the golden calf. Last Friday, we watched as Moses confronted Aaron concerning his leadership of Israel’s idolatry and as Aaron shirked responsibility for his actions. He was not a mature leader, one who was willing to own up to his failures.
In contrast, when Moses came before the Lord to intercede for the people, he was willing to put his own neck on the chopping block of divine discipline: “But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written” (32:32). You may recall that God had even offered to wipe out the people and start over with Moses as the father of a new nation (32:10). But just as Moses had declined this self-advancing offer, so he was willing to be punished for the crimes of his people. If God would not forgive them, then God should erase Moses from the book of life as well.
Godly and wise leaders don’t take responsibility only for the successes of those they lead but then dodge the bullet of failure. Rather, they accept responsibility for the mistakes of those in their charge, even when the leaders were not directly involved. When this happens, the whole organization can learn from their failures, and the followers grow in their respect for their leader.
I’ve watched recently as a friend of mine has been dealing with a difficult relational issue in his family. Though it would have been easy for him to blame others, he exercised godly leadership by owning his own failures. His openness and sorrow set his family on a healing course.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever experienced leadership that takes responsibility for personal and organizational failure? When? How does the willingness of a leader to take responsibility impact you as a follower? Are there organizational failures for which you need to take responsibility today?
PRAYER: Gracious God, when those whom I lead fail, I can try to avoid taking responsibility in order to preserve my ego. But, even as others must take responsibility for their errors, so I must own my failures as a leader when the people under my charge fall short.
Help me, dear Lord, not to hide behind others when my “team” falls short. Give me eyes to see the mistakes of my leadership, so that I might become a more truthful and effective leader. May this be true in my workplace, in my family, and in every other place where you have called me to lead. Amen.