All week, I’ve been reading the story of Moses, and the exodus of the Israelites. To make a long story long, Moses was chosen by God, to lead the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. He had to overcome his insecurities, his past (as a murderer, no less!), and he had to find his identity as a follower of God. Along the way, he had to deal with whiners, opposition, and last but not least, his own siblings, Miriam and Aaron.
Miriam and Aaron were grumblers.
Grumblers can be distinguished by their reactions. If someone that the grumbler either does not like or feels superior to, is successful, the grumbler hates it. If that person fails, the grumbler is happy. Grumblers don’t want credit for the sake of it; they just want to be better than someone else. In its essence, grumbling is an indicator of both pride and insecurity. It is an unearned sense of entitlement.
Any victories a grumbler gains with that approach are temporary because their condition cannot be satisfied with external success. In order to fix the grumbling, a person has to take a deep, unbiased inventory of the person they are, what they want, and how they want to get it.
If a person’s success is dependent upon the failure of another person, it is not true success. It does nothing to elevate their position because their hard work and talent had nothing to do with what they have achieved. Even if, the person does well, there will always be a nagging feeling that they did not do anything to deserve it. (Other than lie to, manipulate, and sabotage their competition.)
Miriam and Aaron were equally as gifted as Moses. Miriam was a prophetess, and Aaron was a priest. In spite of the prestige associated with their titles, the priest and the prophetess were caught whining. “Why does Moses get to be the leader? We hear from God as well, so we should be leaders with him”. Blah. Blah. Blah. Pity party city.
(I’m paraphrasing, but that’s pretty much what was said)
Immediately, they were both taken to task. Not by Moses, but by God. God reminded them that He chose Moses, so Moses was the leader. (When God chooses a man or woman for leadership, it is irreversible. Even if that man or woman is a custodian, he or she will be the leader of the custodians.) For her trouble, Miriam was struck with leprosy, and had to leave the camp temporarily. (Possibly because she was the most vocal, as, grumbling always precedes a curse. Aaron was unharmed.)
There’s nothing wrong with holding the people in administrative roles accountable for the actions they exhibit while in leadership. Actually, there’s nothing wrong with holding anyone responsible for their actions. In the Bible, King Saul was admonished by the prophet Samuel for his disobedience to God. King David was told of his sin by Nathan. Barak was chastised by Deborah for being apprehensive. Jesus referred to the highfalutin Pharisees as, “a nest of vipers”. A person is not always the best judge when it comes to his or her own shortcomings, so those shortcomings occasionally have to be pointed out by someone else.
That said, grumbling is still wrong.
Grumblers are best identified by their statements:
“If I were him/her, I would do [fill in the blank].”
“I deserve [fill in the blank] more than that person because of [fill in the blank].”
“I’d be a much better leader than him or her!”
“I don’t see how he/she became an expert all of the sudden. I’m smarter than them.”
Grumblers are all about elevating themselves–even at the expense of other people. They have many criticisms yet offer few solutions. Miriam and Aaron were not called to be leaders because of their attitudes.
Miriam had an agenda of self-promotion. It wasn’t enough for her to be associated with the power. She wanted it for herself. Aaron, on the other hand, was too intimidated by the people to lead effectively. (I mean, any priest who would allow people to bully him into making them a gold statue to worship, is obviously more concerned with getting approval from the crowd than he is with fulfilling the will of God)
Moses, on the other hand, was singularly focused on the assignment that God gave him, which is why he was successful. (Even with all of the grumblers he had to deal with)
Regardless of the level of intelligence, experience, or opportunities, grumblers do not make great leaders because they exalt themselves above their subordinates. True leadership is marked by service rather than domination.
Any dude with a title can tell people what to do, but it takes a person of character to be a leader.