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Leadership and Discipleship, Part 8: Masters Lead, Journeymen Follow

Written by Gary North on April 9, 2016

And he hath put in his [Bezaleel’s] heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart [skill, NASB], to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman [designers], and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work [designs] . . . And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom [skill] even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it (Ex. 35:34-35; Ex. 36:2).

The children of Israel had not been out of Egypt more than a month when God gave two men, Bezaleel and Aholiab, the craftsmanship skills required to execute God’s design tor the tabernacle. Not only did Bezaleel have the skills of craftsmanship, he had the skill of teaching. This made possible the division of labor. They would not have to work alone. Then God raised up others inside the camp to work under these two men to build the tabernacle.

This required a miracle by God. These people had been slaves. They had worked as low-skilled laborers making bricks, not as skilled craftsmen and designers of lovely artistic works. God inspired two men in a special way, so that they could teach others and direct the construction of the tabernacle. God wanted His movable house built rapidly. The people were not to wait a generation before God’s proscribed worship was established. This made mandatory a miracle.

Consider the nature of this miracle. God raised up one main teacher and an assistant. This was analogous to the leadership of Moses and Aaron, although not precisely, since Aaron was the verbal spokesman despite his position as second in command in the direct confrontation with Pharaoh. There was a hierarchy: Bezaleel, Aholiab, and the core group of skilled workmen. The people brought their valuable possessions, taken from the Egyptians (Ex. 12:35-36), to these craftsmen (Ex. 36:3). The craftsmen had been given skills by God and capital by the people. They went to work.

Consider the authority of the two men. They were in charge of what would be Israel’s most important construction project until the building of the temple was begun 480 years later (I Ki. 6:1). Through God’s unique act of grace to them, they possessed the required skills. Because of their skills, they had been elevated above the crowd. The other workers were subordinate to them, and the wealth of the people had been put at their disposal.

Their authority was not based on their unique judicial position as covenant-keepers. They were two among two million in a nation set apart by God for His special purposes. No priest had anointed them as political rulers. They were not leaders based on a public election: almost no one had known about them prior to God’s grant of skill to them. They were not priests, for they were not members of the tribe of Levi. Yet the remainder of the Book of Exodus is devoted to a highly detailed description of the results of their work. Were they leaders? Beyond question. Were they office-holders? No. How long did their work survive? For half a millennium. Their story is recorded permanently in Exodus.

The Authority of the Master

Their story is representative. It is not representative of an age of miracles, which the exodus generation surely was: the ultimate miraculous era. Those miracles began to be withdrawn by God as soon as the nation crossed the Jordan into Canaan and the men were circumcised: the manna ceased forever (Josh. 5:12). What, then, does this story represent? It represents the authority of the master craftsman. The skills they possessed were their tokens of authority within the confines of the task at hand. Other craftsmen trusted them; so did the people who brought their wealth to them. They were at the top of a hierarchical chain of command because they had skills, and also because they could impart these skills to others. They were teachers. The teacher always possesses authority over those whom he instructs.

Leonard Read, the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, used to illustrate his argument for the need for continual self-improvement by referring to his skills at golf. Read loved to play golf. He made six holes-in-one in his lifetime. But on the whole, he was oft the hole. He was not an impressive golfer, as he freely admitted. He would tell his audience that it he and Arnold Palmer were on the same golf course, people would not come to him for advice on how to improve their games. It would not matter how articulately he spoke or how much money he paid to advertise his skills, people would go to Palmer for advice. Palmer had the requisite skills to be worth asking; Plead did not.

Head’s point was that those with skills are sought out by those who want to learn and develop the same skills. Palmer would not have had to advertise that he was a great golfer whose opinions were worth paying attention to, His golf game was all the advertising he needed; it had gained him worldwide fame. So it is with every skill, Read said. Do not try to persuade people of the truth of your position by proclaiming verbally how good you are. Just be good enough for people to want to learn what you know. Your reputation will and should proceed you. Let your performance do your talking.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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