Thirty years ago a veteran of WW II taught me an important life lesson.
Today, in my devotions, I was reading about the Israelites and the golden calf. In Exodus 32: 3,4 we read, “So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.”
When Moses confronted Aaron, Aaron defended his actions by saying, “So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” (Exodus 32:24)
“Out came this calf!”
This was not just a lame excuse, it was also a lie. Golden calves don’t make themselves!! Aaron “fashioned” that calf with a tool.
In the story I read this morning, Aaron was not taking responsibility for his actions, which reminded me of the life lesson I learned from that WWII veteran.
He told me that he had been flying missions for almost 3 days straight and was exhausted. He was on his way to bed when he was told that they needed him to get back to his plane for another mission. At this point he made a poor choice.
He paid a fellow pilot to forge his name and fly his plane on the next mission. The other pilot agreed, took the money, while my veteran friend went to bed.
When he woke up he was horrified when he discovered that his fellow pilot had been shot down and killed during the mission.
He was in big trouble.
When called before the Court Marshall the only thing he said in his defense was, “There is no excuse for my actions. I take full responsibility for my decision.”
The Court Marshall admired the fact that this young man didn’t make excuses for his actions and reduced his punishment. He was allowed to continue flying, which he did . . . becoming a flying ace.
I want to be the kind of leader–the kind of man–who always takes responsibility for his actions.
Anything else would be inexcusable.