The Call to Leadership

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There is a story in the book of Judges that describes the choosing of a spiritual leader. These were dark days for the Israelites. Everyone did whatever they chose to do. Judges 17 recounts the story of a man by the name of Micah apparently stole or “borrowed” money from his mother. When he confessed that he had stolen it, she gave it back to him and told him to make an idol with it. Micah set up a worship centre in his house, made a few more idols and appointed one of his sons as priest. Apparently that wasn’t sufficient because a wandering Levite came to his home, and when Micah realized that he was a Levite, one of tribe chosen by God to look after the things consecrated to the service of the Lord, Micah figured there was not much better than “the real deal.” The Levite was looking for someplace to live and Micah offered him a job.

Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food…Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. And Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest’” (Judges 17:10-13).

The house of God was in Shiloh (Judges 18:31) and idols were forbidden by commandment of the Lord. Oddly enough, Micah expected a blessing from God even though he wasn’t even remotely close to doing what the people of God had been commanded to do.

This incident came to mind after I read Leviticus 8, which describes the ordination of Aaron and his sons. There was a solemn and serious purification ceremony connected with a consecration of these men to the service of the Lord. Blood sacrifices were made and the consequences of not following the Lord’s instructions to the letter were deadly—literally (Leviticus 8:35, 36)!

I suppose that Micah thought that since the Levite was the priestly tribe, it would be perfectly fine to turn him into his own personal chaplain. But not all the tribe of Levi were spiritual leaders in the same sense that Aaron and his sons were. Some looked after the furnishings or were responsible for moving the Tabernacle from place to place as the Lord commanded. It appears that Micah did not bother to ask the Levite anything about his former ministry, neither did he nor the Levite bother to consult God in all this. The deal was a good one—salary, food, clothing, lodging and a cushy job, so he took it.

Even Samuel carried with him a touch of a more worldly method of choosing leaders. When God sent him to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be king after Saul (1 Samuel 16), Samuel was impressed by the looks of the men who were presented to him. Happily, he listened to the voice of the Lord and asked to meet the youngest boy, David, who no one considered a candidate and who had been left out in the fields tending the sheep. God’s comment to Samuel was “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Was David perfect? No. Were Aaron and his sons perfect? No. But they were chosen by God, and not according to the whim of men. They responded to the call of God on their lives rather than to a human appeal wrapped in a convenient job with a comfortable living.

Samuel would have chosen badly—except that he was listening to God. Before he even arrived at the house of Jesse in Bethlehem, the Lord had said to him: “…I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate” (1 Samuel 16:3) and Samuel listened when the voice of God told him something different than what his own eyes coveted as he looked at the strapping young men in Jesse’s household.

My church is presently seeking a senior pastor. As I read the account in Leviticus 8 this morning and as I remembered the example of Micah and Samuel, I was reminded how important it is for us to seek God’s voice in the matter, to listen to what He says, to choose His man no matter how unlikely that choice might seem, to not take the easier road of making an appealing “offer” to anyone willing to take it, and to treat this choice with the same seriousness as God commanded it to be treated in Leviticus 8.

It sounds a bit “counter-culture” to how things work in the world today. But then again, the culture was meant to be influenced by Christianity not, as Micah practiced his faith, the other way around.


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