Of What Relevance is the Bible to 21st Century Leadership and Human Development?

Feature Article Of What Relevance is the Bible to 21st Century Leadership and Human Development?

We will begin by defining what we mean by leadership and human development in this 21st century to determine if the Bible is relevant in the context of these terms. To gauge its relevance, we will review the leaders of the Bible to form a conclusion as to their capacity as models for modern leadership and human development.

In simple terms, leadership is about governance…governance of the family, society, enterprises, entities, and systems. The test of competent leadership is in the fulfillment of the mission and goals of the governed. In this instance, it is not given to leadership to evaluate itself. The measure of good leadership is in the judgment of the people or of the quality of the organization being led.

A cornerstone of modern leadership principles is accountability, vision, innovation and creativity and adaptability in the pursuit of the mission and enterprise of the entity being led. In general, a good leader must embody certain qualities such as wisdom, justice, fairness, courage, and honesty. Under these definitions, I agree with Bernard Shaw and Nietzsche that a leader should be a virtual superman, or at the minimum, a man who inspires people to do what they thought they could not do. (See Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra at…….and Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman)

The universal consequence of successful leadership is human development. This development consists in human beings’ intellectual and physical growth and the opportunities that are made available for the person to exploit and advance in all his vision and ambition. Here, we are also looking at the human happiness or satisfaction index, and the use to which s/he can advance natural gifts and contribute to society in the fullest possible way.

Given all the foregoing, is the Bible relevant in this 21st century leadership and human development? I take the view that the Bible is not relevant and will go as far as to say that it is deleterious to the human psyche, human civilization, and human progress.

In the first place, the Bible begins with the leadership crisis of God himself. His first instruction to our foremother and forefather was to forbid them to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and bad, giving the inkling to humanity that the knowledge of good and bad is an undesirable trait. And this is problematic because the foundation of good leadership subsists in the knowledge of good and bad, and ethics and morality and all ethos and mores are about laws that draw a clear distinction between good and bad. It follows that no society can exist if its citizens have no knowledge of good and bad. By proscribing the knowledge of good and bad, God exhibited his preference that humankind will become like lobotomized idiots who he can command to do all kinds of ignorant things….

Elsewhere, God destroys the tower of Babel and confuses the language of the people merely because he takes issues with them for trying to stay united people, capable of doing impossible things. See Genesis 11: 1-9. But fostering unity is the fundamental work of modern leadership. And so here, God fails the test of leadership, substantiating my initial assertion that he prefers his subjects to remain ignorant.

Elsewhere, when God decided to destroy the world because of the sins of humans, he chose a drunkard and a curser called Noah for the job, and destroyed animals who had done nothing to him, strangely preserving evil creatures like cockroaches, termites, and bacteria who were actually the real culprits on earth………

So in the Bible, we see the bad leadership of God in his preference for ignorance, his collective punishment and abortive purge of evil from the surface of the earth as evidenced in his preservation of the insect population.

Another evidence of the temperamental leadership exhibited within the Bible concerns Moses. Here, we find Moses’ first action, after liberating the people of Israel from Egypt, being the killing of over three thousand of them. The story, as recounted in Exodus 24:12 ff is that Moses went up the mountain for forty days, and the people fearing that he had abandoned them and died on top of the mountain, decided to make a golden calf to worship. Moses came down in a rage from the mountaintop, burnt the golden calf and ground it into powder for the people to drink. Thereafter he commanded the Levites as follows. “ Put ye every man his sword to his thigh, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp , and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ The Levites obeyed Moses and slaughtered over three thousand people in a pogrom. Exodus 32: 26-28.

We note with amusement that later, Moses made another idol in the form of the ark of the covenant with all its adornment in cherubim and seraphim, which the people of Israel virtually worshipped as their God. In it, he put the man-made stone tablet which he made in substitution of the one made by God himself which he had destroyed in his anger.

We again note with amusement that Moses later climbed a mountain to die, thereby justifying the original suspicion of the people that he had died on top of a mountain.

When you read Leviticus, it epitomizes waste in theocratic governance. The book details instructions on burnt sacrifices, wherein hundreds of sheep and cattle were daily burned for a sweet aroma to God. To wit, Moses led in the burning of thousands of sheep in the wilderness when the people were hungry and eating only manna. When they complained that they were fed up with manna, Moses commanded quails to appear in droves from the sea for the people to eat. And when they ate these toxic birds, multitudes of the people died. See Numbers 11: 31-34. So while sheep and cattle were being burned in thousands for God to inhale their smoke, toxic birds were being supplied to the people to kill them.

Somebody has written a book about the number of people killed by God in the Bible. Somebody else should write a book about all the animals and foodstuff burned in the Bible for the inhalation of a God addicted to the smoky scent of animal blood. When the numbers are finally revealed, humanity will despair!

Moses was also a quintessential dictator who broached no challenge from anybody. He made 613 laws which he expected the people to remember and obey or die in the attempt. He made laws against the marriage of foreigners but was the first to break them by the marriage of the Cushitic woman. When Miriam and Aaron confronted him, he cast leprosy on Miriam. See Numbers 12. We even suspect that Moses even killed Aaron himself because the circumstances of Aaron’s death is very suspicious. The Bible narrates in Numbers 20 that he stripped Aaron of his priestly gown, and Aaron suddenly died. See Numbers 20: 27-29.

Long before was the mass murder perpetrated by Moses on Korah and his family as recounted in Numbers 16. Here, there was an open challenge thrown by a citizen of Israel called Korah. He could not understand why God was speaking to Moses alone who was imposing himself as king over the people. The result was a total disaster for the people: The earth opened and swallowed that man and all his family members.

We even suspect that in the final analysis Moses himself abandoned the people and escaped into the mountain. We know this because the Bible states that the man was never ill nor his sight diminish1ed. See Deuteronomy 34.

So here, we are looking at Moses as a murderer, a trickster, a magician, and an unjust and autocratic leader who broached no challenge. He was a leader who played God himself.

The Bible also provides no leadership template for the kings of Israel. After they settled in the land of Canaan, there was not a single true leader amongst them. The most significant of them was David, who killed his own soldier by placing Uriah at the war front, so that he could sleep with the soldier’s wife and hide an adulterous pregnancy. His affair with Abigail which preceded this murderous event is recorded in 1st Samuel Chapter 25. There, David requested provision from Nabal, and when he refused, David and his brigands prepared to attack. He thereafter became love-struck with Nabal’s wife Abigail when she intervened to calm down David, and soon thereafter, Nabal mysteriously died, and David promptly married his wife, Abigail.

Elsewhere in 2nd Samuel 21:1-14, there is an obscure account of a dastardly human sacrifice performed with the descendants of Saul who were impaled on a wall to appease the Gibeonites who Saul is said to have offended. (There is no account of this incident in the Bible). That innocent bloodshed purportedly to avert an epidemic, is an example in cowardice, because David did not remember his covenant and friendship with Jonathan, and quickly betrayed his descendants as a token for the Gibeonites.

So here, we are looking at leaders soaking in the blood of their subjects; leaders committing adultery and performing human sacrifices of their political enemies, all in the name of God. And yet we still celebrate these leaders and name our children after them. Therefore, in these instances, God’s original plan that humans should know no difference between good and bad is amply supported in the biblical leadership.

This space and time are insufficient to recount the dark deeds of Abraham who slept with his maidservant and banished her into the dry desert to die of hunger and thirst, and later offered his only begotten son as human sacrifice to God; or Joseph who introduced mass slavery into Egypt…… and had his people enslaved; or Samuel in the human sacrifice of King Agag and his sabotage of King Saul. See also Saul and his obsession and pursuit of David ………..and the human sacrifice of Jephthah of his only daughter, of Solomon and his polygamy and his profligacy; or the human sacrifice of God of his own son Jesus Christ to pacify himself.

So, in the leadership conundrum of the Bible, we perceive tyranny at its apogee where questioning leadership is a certain death warrant. We perceive double standards and contradictions, the prohibition of knowledge of good and bad and the betrayal of the people. We perceive leaders engage in ignorant superstition and underhand tactics and injustice. We perceive dishonesty, injustice, mass murder, adultery, stealing and human sacrifice. We perceive the iconoclasts and mad men, and people of no conscience wreaking havoc upon the land and the people.

Elsewhere in the book of Kings and Judges and Samuel, we see that the sole measure of leadership in the Bible was the satisfaction of the edicts of God which were the edicts of Moses as interpreted by the high priests in burnt offerings and in ritual crinkum. The quality of the monarchy was adjudged by the satisfaction of the priests, not by the satisfaction of the people.

Under these circumstances, what is there to learn or glean from the leaders of the Bible in this 21st century? Genocide or human sacrifice or superstition or tantrums or polygamy or disloyalty or deviousness or foolishness or greed?

My humble submission here is that our 21st century world has moved past the primitive posturing of the biblical leaders. They have nothing to show of their leadership or human development. if we choose to make them a template for our modern leadership and human development, our society will return to the times of savagery, our governments will collapse, and our people will perish, just as the people of the Bible went into captivity and were all destroyed.

In this instance, the Bible is an encumbrance upon leadership and human development in these modern times, and has nothing to offer us or teach us, except to point to us the things we should repudiate and abhor or hate. I therefore submit to you that the extent of the use of the Bible is not that it teaches us what to do, but rather that it is a book of horrors that is better used as a measure for man’s inhumanity to man.

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq.