Bad things happen when a leader doesn’t fully fill his/her role. When a parent fails to lead and lets their young children call the shots, trouble is on the horizon. When a boss allows his/her employees to dictate to them how the business should be run or when a pastor fails to see his role as the leader who points the way, success will more than likely become a thing of the past.
Pure and simple, nature abhors a vacuum. If the leader doesn’t fill his/her role as the person of influence, someone else (maybe much less competent) will fill the role. Bad things will soon follow.
In Numbers 13, we read that God told Moses to choose 12 men to spy out the Promised Land. The Israelites would soon be claiming God’s promise and they needed information beforehand.
Numbers 13:1-3 (New Living Translation)
“The Lord now said to Moses, ‘Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.’ So Moses did as the Lord commanded him…”
Numbers 13:17-20 (New Living Translation)
“Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: ‘Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.’ (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)”
This is a vital step in leadership. Before making a big move, information needs to be gathered. God wanted Moses and the Israelites to know what was ahead of them.
The fact that the Promised Land was more incredible than they imagined would inspire and motivate them to take it. The fact that the people who resided in that land were strong and deeply entrenched would cause the Israelites to depend upon their God for the victory. This would be good information to have!
The problem wasn’t that the 12 spies were sent to gather information. The problem arose in how they were allowed to report their findings.
“After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.”
Did you get that? They didn’t simply report back to their leader, Moses. They were given the full audience of the people of Israel. Moses probably assumed a lot and assumed these were men who would inspire the Israelites. But, he made a faulty assumption, shirked his leadership responsibilities, and allowed 10 of these 12 men to instill fear and doubt into the Israelites.
(Joshua, Moses’ predecessor, learned this lesson. He sent out spies to explore Jericho but he did so secretly [Joshua 2:1]. When they returned, they reported to him and only him first [Joshua 2:23-24].)
This is not a ‘power-principle.’ It’s not intended to inflate a leader’s ego. This principle simply acknowledges that nature abhors a vacuum. If you are a person of influence and you shirk your responsibilities of leadership, someone will fill the void. There is no guarantee that the one who temporarily takes your place will be competent, compassionate, humble or have any other desirable leadership traits.
You owe it to those who follow your leadership to be the leader!