The book of Exodus, taking place around 1500 BC, tells the story of a man named
Moses. Moses was born to become a leader. Moses was saved from death by the Pharoah’s wife and raised as an Egyptian but in adulthood he began to find his roots as a Hebrew man. God himself appeared to Moses through the burning bush to call him to serve and free God’s people from Egypt. Moses is only one man, of course he would be wary to accept the calling of God.
Moses made statements to God such as: Who am I? What if they don’t believe me? I am not a speaker. Please appoint someone else. God, seeing Moses’s hesitancy appoints Aaron to be the spokesman of Moses. What makes Moses unique is his reluctance to be known as the hero or leader. In the Old Testament, most people whom God communicates to jump to the chance to become a leader or prophet in his name.
Ethical Leadership is defined as good leadership that does the right thing even when it is inconvenient or difficult. Although Moses does not accept God immediately, he came around when Aaron became speaker. As the Beatles say “I get by with a little help from my friends”. One day though, Moses did become his own leader and spoke for himself and even stood up to God. In Exodus chapter 32 Moses went to the mountains. Not knowing when Moses would return, Aaron and the Israelites built a golden calf to worship in the absence. God became enraged and wanted to destroy the Israelites but Moses said “Lord, why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?1”
After essentially standing up to God, Moses then descended from the mountain to confront his people, so angry that he destroyed the original commandment tablets. “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his
hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire;; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. 2” Moses and the Golden Calf is an excellent example of ethical leadership because
Moses considers everyone’s position. He knows what the Israelites are doing is wrong but he also knows it would be wrong to completely destroy the Israelites. Moses is also relying on his own leadership abilities because his brother and speaker Aaron was responsible for creating the golden calf. One can tell Moses has become the powerful leader because his people do not know what to do in his absence. Even though he has power, that is not what defines an ethical leader.
According to the Center for Ethical Leadership the four characteristics of an ethical leader are
Values, Vision, Voice, and Virtue. I believe Moses exemplifies all of these traits although he may not have started with them. Moses is the type of leader who must adapt to the position. He had his Hebrew values instilled in him, and ultimately his vision becomes leading his people to the promised land. Moses does have to come into his own voice but he has always had the character of virtue in the sense that he always worked for the common good.
Although they are slightly dated, I believe people such as Martin Luther King Jr, or Mahatma