Do real leaders emerge in the midst of a crisis? Well, if your definition of leadership includes courage and zeal, then yes, many real leaders emerge during a crisis.
In this month’s Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known, let’s look at Phinehas (aka Phineas), a leader of courage and zeal who saved the nation of Israel from God’s wrath (Numbers 25).
Israel’s Exodus Fall
During their march to the Promised Land, the Israelites camped at the border of Moab. Eventually, the men of Israel started to have sex with the women of Moab. The Israelite men turned away from God and followed the false gods of the Moabite women.
Not surprisingly, God was furious. He told Moses to have all these men executed to purify the camp. Moses then told the judges to have all the men who had turned away from God killed.
Before the order was carried out, Zimri, a high-ranking Israelite, defied Moses by bringing a Moabite princess into the camp. Zimri brought her right past Moses and the Tent of Meeting (where God met Moses) and into his tent where he planned to have sex with her.
Phinehas Takes Action
Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, the high priest, saw what Zimri had done. Phinehas jumped up, grabbed his spear, followed Zimri into his tent, and killed Zimri and the Moabite woman.
Phinehas’ quick action, courage, and zeal for God appeased God’s wrath. A plague that had settled over the camp of Israel stopped, but not before 24,000 Israelites died.
God made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and Phinehas became the third high priest in Israel, all because he had appeased God’s wrath.
4 Lessons for Leaders in a Crisis
1. Beware the temptation. Israel had camped right on the border with the Moabites who worshipped foreign gods. The Moabites plotted against the Israelites and were able to cause many to turn away from God by appealing to the carnal nature of the men.
The lesson for us. As leaders, we need to be particularly aware of areas of temptation for us and those whom we lead. You can’t expect to live next to temptation and not be tempted.
2. The leaders saw it and did not respond. Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders saw what the men were doing with the Moabite women. They knew the men were turning away from God and worshipping the gods of the Moabites. Yet, they did nothing!
The lesson for us. As leaders when we see folks being tempted we need to take whatever measures are necessary to remove the temptation.
3. There is a time to act! The Bible says after God gave Moses the instructions and as the plague was taking lives, Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders were sitting in an assembly outside the Tent of Meeting crying. Moses delegated the authority to act to the judges, but no one had acted on God’s instructions.
The lesson for us. When God gives us instructions, whether in prayer or through His Word, we need to act. The time for sitting around in a meeting bemoaning our fate is over. As leaders, we are responsible for the people we lead, so act! Now!
4. Be courageous. Leaders do not sit idly by while people turn away from God in sin. Godly leaders move with the courage and zeal of God.
The lesson for us. If the appointed leaders don’t take action, then we must. As leaders, we must take action to save our brothers and sisters from the sin that causes them to turn away from God.
We have the same kinds of temptations surrounding us today as the people of Israel did then. The appeal to our carnal sin nature is just as strong. The temptation to turn away from God and into sin is just as prevalent.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to care for the flocks that God has entrusted to us. We need to be leaders filled with courage and zeal for the Lord.
Join the Conversation
As always, questions and comments are welcome. What did you take away from the actions of Phinehas in response to this crisis that you can apply to your life?
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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God