Since I have been thinking a lot about spiritual leadership, one of the passages from Leviticus 4 jumped out at me. There is a section that describes what to do in the case of some sort of corporate sin among the people. Like other sin offerings, the people were to bring a bull from the herd to the sanctuary so that the priest could offer it up as a sin offering. However, unlike the other sin offerings, God specified that it was the elders of the congregation that were to lay their hands on the head of the bull before it was offered up as a sin offering.
I am picturing in my mind how this may have looked and how this might have affected the people. Can you imagine how it would have affected them to watch their leaders humbly approach the sanctuary, lay their hands on the sin offering, and seek forgiveness from God? Can you imagine the effect it would have if they were to hear their elders confess the sin of the congregation and ask God for forgiveness and reconciliation on behalf of the people they lead and represent?
I am reminded of Moses, who stood in solidarity with his people when they sinned in Exodus 32. Moses told God to blot his name out of God's book if God would not forgive the sins of his people. I am also reminded of Jesus, who is the prophet like Moses. Jesus also stood in solidarity with his people. Like Moses, Jesus stood with his people even in their sin. In fact, Jesus actually carried our sin!
I am also reminded of Josiah in 1 Kings 22. When he discovered that all of the people had completely neglected God's law, he tore his robes as a sign of mourning led the way in national repentance. There is also the example of Jonah who went and preached divine destruction to the city of Nineveh. The king set the example with humble repentance and mourning. God then relented and did not destroy the city.
I am also reminded of Moses' reaction when he saw his people begin to complain and rebel against him as God's leader and against God himself in places like Numbers 14 and Numbers 16. Moses' first reaction was to fall flat on his face as prostrate himself. He knew the holiness and wrath of God, especially since the people now had a history of rebellion against God. As their leader, Moses fell flat on his face as to humble himself before God so that perhaps God might be merciful in spite of their rebellion.
This reminds me that repentance and humility are part of what makes for a good leader. A leader does not stand apart or against his people. He stand with them and for them. A leader will model humility and repentance in solidarity with the people. A leader would lay down his life for his people. A leader genuinely loves his people.