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I received an unexpected call from a church a few years ago. The chairman of the church’s search committee asked if I knew a candidate they were interviewing for the church’s vacant senior pastor position. He asked me about the candidate’s leadership, his strengths and weaknesses, and if I would recommend him.
I was reluctant to answer but felt compelled to since the inquiring church had gone through a hurtful split; even then giving feedback wasn’t easy.
The candidate was probably one of the most skillful, articulate and intelligent leader and preacher I had come across in more than twenty years of ministry. Under his leadership, the church grew dramatically and expanded aggressively. However, his legacy was not increased church attendance, staff, services, offerings or programs, but his intolerant, confrontational and militant spirit that led to disillusioned members leaving, board members resigning and other churches talking. He finally resigned in disgust after the third church-wide split. Since then, wherever he went, whatever he did and whoever he met, the pattern continued - he wowed new friends and made new nemesis, never holding a pastoral position.
The man on the line asked, “Would I recommend him as the pastor of this church?” Without hesitation, I replied, “No.” I was surprised that I did not feel bad for not recommending a fellow pastor. The candidate was just too angry, too insensitive and too divisive. It was unfortunate that one man could do so much damage, bring such untold misery and attract that much controversy.
After the Israelites were served notice of their forty years wanderings in the wilderness, Aaron and Moses faced the last negative evaluation of their leadership direction, methods and history. The leader was Korah, a Levite but a non-descendant of Aaron who desired the priesthood for himself. Korah fed his poison to four others from another tribe (v 1) and another 250 influential people (v 2). Behind the transparent religious or spiritual language was an unmistakable “you-we-you” message: “They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (16:3).
By the end of the next day 14,950 Israelites had died (Num 16:35, 49) due a prolonged protest by the community against Moses. The plague that struck the camp was the scene of the longest and bloodiest day in the wilderness, far outnumbering the 3,000 calf-worshippers that died previously (Ex 32:28).
What characteristics in a person does God value and accept? What kind of influence do you exert on the people around you? How would God evaluate you?
Measure Yourself Humbly and Do Not Magnify Yourself
8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” (Num 16:8-11)
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