When I was appointed head of the vocal department for the state competition, things just got worse. Everyone knew how to do my job better than I did, even if they had never had a voice lesson in their lives. They might think that diphthongs were women’s underwear, but they could judge a voice better than a man with a doctorate in vocal performance and 20 years experience on the stage.
The more authority you have, the more responsibility you have, and the more troubles are laid at your door. Anyone who goes around looking for it had better love the cause since s/he will get far more grief than s/he ever bargained for. And that is only right because headship is not about privilege; it is about doing what is best for those in your charge, even when it isn’t what you really want to do.
Miriam forgot that. Miriam found herself leader of those Israelite women who fled Egypt along with their men. After the victory at the Red Sea, she led them in song, praising God for their victory. God also made her one of His prophetesses. Micah makes it plain that God considered her a leader: For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam, (6:4).
But Miriam was not happy with her calling. In Numbers 12:2 she and Aaron came before God and dared to say, Has Jehovah indeed spoken only with Moses? Has he not also spoken with us? Notice in verse 1 that Miriam’s name is listed first, which usually means something in the scriptures. In addition I found at least one commentary that says the literal Hebrew in that verse is, “And she spake, Miriam and Aaron, against Moses,” making it clear that Miriam was the ringleader of this little rebellion.
Miriam was not satisfied with the place of honor God gave her—it wasn’t enough. She could tell that God held Moses in higher esteem, even than her brother Aaron, and she was not happy about it. Yet she had proved that she was not capable of handling the responsibilities of the job.
In Exodus 32, when Moses left the people in her and Aaron’s charge, she allowed them to make the golden calf. How did she allow it? By saying nothing. As a leader she should have spoken out against their sin. God expects that of any leader, and she failed miserably. No, Aaron did not do any better, but then was he the one who complained in Numbers 12? No, he just went right along with it like he did in Exodus 32. Nothing about Aaron changed from one time to the next. Miriam’s complete failure to even try to stem the tide of idolatry at the foot of Mt Sinai showed her unfit to be a leader of God’s people. For her to then come along and demand that position in Numbers 12 showed that she wasn’t even perceptive enough to see her own failures, much less lead a group that failed over and over in the years that followed. It also shows that she sought the honor rather than the responsibility of leadership.
So what does God expect of us?
How does a man react to his selection as an elder? Does he follow the path of least resistance when it is time to make a decision? Does he avoid making a decision at all, hoping to dodge unpleasant consequences? Or does he make the tough decisions that are best for the good of those he shepherds, even knowing it will cause him problems with those same people?
How does a man handle the headship of his family? Is it all about getting to do things his way, and only his way? Is it about telling everyone else what they should be doing, while sitting around being waited on? Or does he do what is best for each member of his family, even if it makes more work and worry for him? Does he understand that God holds him accountable for the success or failure of his family?
How about an older woman in the church, in a family, in a community? Does she stand for the truth in whatever capacity she finds herself? Is she strong enough to do right even when it isn’t popular, or when it causes her personal pain? Can she remove herself and her feelings far enough from a situation to see the problems and help solve them, even if it means others will disagree? Can she stand for the truth even when it breaks her heart?
Too many people desire the perks and not the works. Jesus came looking for servants at every level, not just the bottom rung of the ladder, and those servants are judged by the deeds they do, not the glory they receive from men. Be careful what you wish for.
Likewise you younger, be subject to the elder. Yea all of you gird yourselves with humility that you may serve one another. For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble 1 Pet 5:5.