Leadership from behind

Last Sunday the Old Testament passage exposed the difficulties of leadership, and a variety of responses.

Moses is absent, and Aaron his older brother gets drawn into what I am calling ‘Leadership from Behind’.  Because Moses has been so strongly identified with the presence of God, his absence brings confusion.  Is God with us or not ? is still the dominant question.  The people demand a more tangible sign of God’s presence so Aaron gives in and forms a golden calf from the people’s offerings.


Idolatry can take many forms.  The Psalm of the day gives the classic definition.

“They exchanged the glory of God for the likeness of an ox that eats hay!”

It is so much harder to live with the mystery that is the strange, but uncontrollable, presence of God.  Idolatry is not just an option for the ancients.  We too can so easily take the soft option of seeking a manageable image (understanding) of God that doesn’t threaten or challenge us!


St Paul’s antidote to the weeds of idolatry at Philippi is for God’s people to plant the flowers of celebration and right thought. (Tom Wright)