Leviticus is known as quite a few things, but a book on leadership? That's probably not the first concept that jumps into our minds. But the law in Leviticus is a great leveler. It often includes commands that are for all the people: whether rich or poor, for those of us in leadership and for those who are not. In this regard, it has some surprising things to say.
Consider the radical commands in Leviticus 4:22-26:
“When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering. Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven."
Imagine the courage and humility it would take to honor this command as a leader in ancient Israel. It would be easy to balk at the notion that unintentional and perhaps even unnoticed sins need to be made public before the whole community and even at a personal cost to yourself (after all, goats aren't cheap)!
But in considering this, we're reminded that as a leader, God never expects that we 'take care of business' behind closed doors and then lead with an air of invulnerability. Rather, it's his expectation that even in small sins we would publicly walk to the tent of meeting, alongside our sacrifice. And then that they would then publicly announce our sin before the priests and make atonement for those sins.
This radical call to transparency is an antidote to 'church perfection' and the temptation many in ministry have to look like it's all put together. It has never been God's desire that those he calls into leadership have it all together: we're not perfect, but dependent on the One who is! If we're growing, we're being constantly confronted with our own struggles, no matter how seemingly insignificant or unintentional they are, and we're being bold in addressing those sins.
As leaders wholly and only dependent on Christ's perfection, let's set an example of repentance and atonement - even publicly. Let's lead not just from the pulpit or the counseling chair, but also from before the alter of burnt offerings.