Yesterday, my class at Trinity had an interesting discussion about honesty and integrity in the ministry. I was trying to make the point that their future ministry as church planters will require an honesty that they have not experienced in the many churches. They need to be vulnerable before their people and share the struggle (of the Christian life) with their people not hover above them as a kind of omni-competent spiritual guru who has "his act together." [That's all it is when someone appears this way--an act.]
Anyway, this morning I was reading Leviticus and found a surprising piece of evidence that this is what God has always required of his leaders.
Leviticus 4:22-23 (ESV) 22 "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, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish,
Contrast this with what is said a few verses later.
Leviticus 4:27-28 (ESV) 27 "If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without
blemish, for his sin which he has committed.
I have added the emphasis. See the difference? Ask yourself, "why?" Why did the leader have to offer something different from the "common people?"
I think the reason was to make it very clear to the observers that the leader was sacrificing a sin offering for HIMSELF. All would be able to see that the priest was sacrificing for himself and not someone else. It amounts to a public confession of solidarity with the people.
God wanted both leader and people to know that leaders were not above sin and wanted an atmosphere of complete integrity and honesty to exist among the covenant people at all levels.