Tag Archives: leadership

Grasshopper or Locust, Part II

I can’t get past Numbers 13, so bear with me. Last time, I focused on the end of the chapter when the bulk of the scouts sent to check out the Promised Land declared themselves grasshoppers in comparison to the scary people they would be facing. Today, I’d like to slide back to the opening of the chapter, Numbers 13:1-3:

The Lord spoke to Moses:  “Send men to scout out the land of Canaan I am giving to the Israelites. Send one man who is a leader among them from each of their ancestral tribes.”  Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran at the Lord’s command. All the men were leaders in Israel.

The twelve men sent out, men who are named in the ensuing verses, were leaders among their respective tribes. Lest we miss that fact, it’s repeated in these verses. They were leaders.

Leaders? This is what leaders do? These guys came back from their little tour. From everything I can discern they all stayed together and saw the same things. After seeing those things, some of them–we don’t know how many–said, “Yeah, the land’s really great but there’s no way we can conquer it.”

Were these guys really leaders? Weren’t they the same leaders who had seen all the mighty works of the Lord in the preceding year? Honestly, they behaved more like Muppets than men.

After this Muppetry, Caleb stands up and presents the minority report:

Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!

That’s a leader! But the others became more determined in their cowardice. They compared themselves, as we saw before, to grasshoppers. Are you a grasshopper or a locust? These guys were content to be grasshoppers.

Before you jump to their defense and say things about the better part of valor and leaders exercising prudence, let’s look back to Numbers 13:17-20. Did Moses ask them to determine whether or not they advised an attack? No. Back in Numbers 13:2, God declared this to be “the land of Canaan I am giving to the Israelites.” He was giving it to them. These twelve were just to figure out the details.

The last two instructions Moses gave are intriguing to me:

Be courageous. Bring back some fruit from the land.

Be courageous and bring me some fruit. What a combo! The twelve men did the second of these but failed in the first. Why, if the people were so formidable, did the scouts slow themselves down with a two-person bunch of grapes? Could it be that they had more of a stomach for grapes than for any hint of danger?

Of course, the ten weak-willed spies received their punishment fairly quickly. But how often are we just as faithless? We’re pleased to accept the fruits of God’s provision but we back away when there’s a whisper of risk. Am I man or am I muppet? A grasshopper or a locust?

House Guest or Master (Hebrews 3:6)

But Christ is faithful as the Son over Gods house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. (Hebrews 3:6)

Dylan came visiting a couple of weeks back. A friend of Emily and Christian, Dylan comes from Pittsburgh, where he wants to begin a community for those in need of help. Far more tattooed than me, far more politically liberal than me, Dylan still brought a quality that I appreciated. He knew how to be a guest in my home.

Upon arriving, he announced that he’d be happy to do any work that we needed done. Penny and I assumed that he was simply being nice. When he repeated the offer, we determined to use his willingness. He ran a bead of silicone on our barn roof, a place that I hate to go, and hung a bat house. There may have been more, but in those two actions he willingly did more than most people who live here. Besides that, he cleaned up after himself and pitched in with the dishes and such.

While Dylan and I might clash over politics and the answers to social problems, I think we agree on the need to love people and take care of each other. When we agree on such matters, the other will resolve itself in time. Perhaps I am assuming too much about this guy, but I do believe you can tell a great deal about a person from what sort of house guest they prove to be.

Jesus, I’m convinced, was an outstanding house guest. I’m not sure what that meant in A.D. 33, but I rather expect he walked away from the home of Mary and Martha without them shaking their heads and wondering where he’d gotten his manners. He proved faithful as a house guest and as the master of the house, the church. Our call, I would suggest, in imitation of Christ, is to prove ourselves faithful over the house we find ourselves occupying. Perhaps that means we should be good house guests. Perhaps we should be good house owners. We might submit ourselves to someone else or exercise leadership over others. The tasks differ, but the call is the same.

I pray that Dylan will get that community started. I’m convinced he’ll prove a good steward over it. After all, I’ve seen some of his work.