As leaders (and members), we must always guard our hearts, keep our consecration (commitment and sanctification by setting apart self as dedication to God) and check our motives. Look with me a few passages here.
Exodus 18:21, 25
Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people: rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
Over here, we can see Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law giving Moses instructions that the work of the ministry is too tough for him and Aaron alone. The burden of the ministry was too heavy for him to shoulder and he was on a fast track to burning out. As such, God through Jethro told Moses to appoint and anoint chosen men from the twelve tribes of Israel as leaders over tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands to share the burden. These people became leaders who will judge the matters brought out by the children of Israel and unless it is of much significance, then only shall it be brought to Moses. They became the elders of the children of Israel.
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”
3 So Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of the LORD, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.
Notice here it says that these twelve spies are heads of the respective twelve tribes of Israel. Some translation put it as leaders of the children of Israel. These are from the same group of people Moses has appointed as leaders as seen in the previous verse. But instead of imparting faith to the congregation of more than 3 million Israelites who was well able to defeat the Amalekites, Jebusites, Hittites, Amorites and Canaanites of the Promised Land (Land of Canaan), ten out of the twelve gave a bad and inaccurate report of the Promised Land. When Hoshea (Joshua) and Caleb tried to encourage the people that they can take the land, these ten people rebuked them and said that it was not possible. Because of this, the children of Israel became sorrowful, wept, complained against Moses and Aaron and even wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for declaring that they can defeat the enemies in the Promised Land.
These people we are talking about over here are leaders and elders of the Israelites! They were able men (people of good character, reputation and consecration to the Lord). What happened? Because of the hardness of heart and because they lost their consecration, they can’t see what God wants to do through them but instead became cynical and discouraged the children of Israel. As a result, the children of Israel have to dwell in the wilderness 40 years for 40 days the spies took to spy out the land. (Num 14:33-34) And subsequently, these people died a horrid death. (Num 14:36-37)
Look with me a few more passages:
Numbers 16:1-3, 13-14
1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
Korah was from the tribe of Levi, a tribe that was specifically separated by the Lord for the work of the Tabernacle (Num 16:9). He was a prominent leader of the tribe of Levi and held considerable power. He was favored by God in a sense. What happened? He gathered two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation to start a rebellion. He challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron. For him, pride got in the way and he wanted more than what Moses gave him. He wanted Moses’ very role! These are leaders we are talking about! What did God do?
Numbers 16:19-20, 31-33
19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. 20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” 31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
These people over here were all great men of God. But they fell from grace, lost their consecration and lost it all. They started out right, but along the way allowed the little foxes to spoil the vine (their walk with God). We need to know that even leaders are infallible. Leaders especially are fallible! Because when the devil attacks, he doesn’t waste time on the ‘normal’ members. He goes for the root of the revival, he goes for shepherd! “Strike the Shepherd and the sheep scatter.” (Zechariah 13:7) The reason why this story is included in the Bible is to remind us not to fall for such a mistake. In a present context, we may be elders, deacons, cell group leaders, zone supervisors, pastors of churches. Yet, our consecration in the Lord is far more important than our position in leadership. Guard your heart, always check your motives and in all things give all the glory to God. Without God, we really don’t have any power and authority on our own. Keep your consecration! Don’t lose it!