If Moses and Aaron Could Function as a Team, Anyone Can

If Moses and Aaron Could Function as a Team, Anyone Can

When Moses and his older brother Aaron were both in their eighties, God assigned them to a team with a very demanding, long-lasting, almost impossible task. Working together for 40 years, they successfully completed their assigned task of bringing Israel to the river Jordon, across from the Promised Land, when the nation was ready to enter it.

We know for certain, Moses’ work pleased God, who called him “... more humble than anyone else on the face of the Earth” (Numbers 12: 3) and “most faithful in all my house” (v. 6). After his death, the Bible also records, “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face …” (Deuteronomy 34:10.

Moses’ personality style matched his leadership task

At the “bush,” Moses was not eager to accept God’s call to lead Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:7-10). Instead, Moses pleaded, “... please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13). God ignored his plea and sent Moses on his way to Egypt to lead Israel, estimated at about two million people, to the Promised Land. God assigned Moses’ brother Aaron as his assistant and spokesman, thereby creating a team of two brothers (Exodus 4:15-16).

DISC explains Moses’s leadership style

If you are familiar with either the Classic or Biblical DISC personality profiles/styles, you may recognize that Moses displayed a composite personality style with qualities of both “D” and “C” personality styles.

As a “D,” he was decisive, determined, goal directed, not easily pushed around by others, and was comfortable and at peace with his position of authority and leadership for about 40 years.

As a “C,” he was capable of processing volumes of data (Exodus 18:17-23), analytical in thinking, logical, and capable of reasoning with the best; his reasoned plea to God to spare the life of Israel on Mount Sinai, when God caught them worshiping an idol, is a fine example of his calm reasoning skills under pressure (Exodus 32:11-14).

Moses’ task of leading a nation of about two million unruly people (God described them as, “stiff-necked people,” Exodus 32:9) through the Sinai desert, with no permanent land to call their own, must have been extremely challenging; perhaps the most difficult leadership task in recorded history. It called for prolonged dedication and conscientiousness on the part of Moses; these are qualities found in “C” personality styles.

Aaron failed as a leader but thrived as High Priest

At Mount Sinai, when Moses was on the top of the mountain conversing with God, Aaron was the de facto leader for 40 days. Aaron failed precipitously at this temporary task by enabling the worship of a golden calf demanded by the people, whom he was expected to “lead.” When Moses came down the mountain to see what was going on,

“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies” (Exodus 32:25).

At the first meeting between the brothers after the disastrous failure of Aaron, Moses asked his older brother, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” (Exodus 33:21). The wording of this question is a clue to Aaron’s personality style.

The question implies, a) Aaron can be pushed by others to do things that are wrong and sinful, b) he can be influenced by others, and c) he can succumb to pressures from others. Thus, the wording of the question by Moses reveals that Aaron lacked key features of the “D” personality style.

On the DISC personality style framework, Aaron appears to be an “I” personality, which is associated with good communication skills and people orientation. God confirms the communication skills of Aaron,  when God said this to Moses:

“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well ... He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him” (Exodus 4:14-16).

They worked together regardless of personality differences

At Mount Sinai, Aaron failed as a leader when Moses was gone 40 days. This is what Moses said about that “golden calf” episode of Aaron:

And the Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too. Also I took that sinful thing of yours, the calf you had made, and burned it in the fire. Then I crushed it and ground it to powder as fine as dust and threw the dust into a stream that flowed down the mountain (Deuteronomy 9:20-21).

When God asked Moses to anoint Aaron as the first priest to the Nation (Exodus 40:13), Moses did not object to it saying, “He led the entire nation away from you by enabling them to worship a golden calf that he crafted. He is unfit, Lord, why not appoint someone else?”

When siblings or spouses are as different as Moses and Aaron, they may lack respect for each other, or even dislike each other. Moses and Aaron should inspire team members, couples and siblings to work together through mutual respect even when their personalities are far apart. In the case of Moses and Aaron, God put them together knowing they had different personalities and associated skills (Exodus 4: 14-16).

Team members with vastly different personality styles may never understand each other fully. To overcome this, make extra attempts to understand members of your team with personality styles that are unlike yours’, and make concessions to accommodate a team member endowed with a personality style that is other than yours’.

If Moses and Aaron with vastly different personality styles could work together to complete their difficult task successfully over a period of 40 years, anyone can.

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Paul Swamidass

Paul Swamidass, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. INTEREST: Leadership training for leaders of Christian organizations. He has published some articles on Christian leadership and contributed to some Christian-leadership training in India in partnership with The Kerusso Institute for Global Leaders

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