The Risks of Leadership
Heavenly Father, as I look to the future, I trust in You. When I am discouraged, I turn to You. My hope, trust, and faith are in You.
Read NUMBERS 20:1-13
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We must follow the way of Christ rather than the way of American culture. Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only he can accomplish” (David Platt). It is not easy to be counter-cultural, but it is God’s way.
The narrative has moved forward four decades since yesterday’s reading. During that time, the people have been wandering in the Sinai Peninsula. Now they are back at Kadesh (1), where they had foolishly and fatefully rebelled against God’s purpose for them. In no time the people resort to type, complaining and quarrelling, this time about a lack of water. Moses surprises us. He slips up, forfeiting entry to the Promised Land.
Why did Moses disobey God’s clear command to speak to the rock? Was he too casual? The people were gathered in solemn assembly before the rock as if before the Ark of the Covenant (10), and the rock was a frequent metaphor for God (Psa. 18:2; 31:3)–but Moses failed to honor the Lord as holy before the people (12). Or was Moses too traditional? The previous time he faced a situation like this, God told him to strike the rock (Exod. 17:6). It worked 40 years before, so it must work again now. Perhaps Moses, approaching his 120th year, had become set in his ways and was finding it difficult to work with a God who innovates. Again, had Moses become too complacent? Was he overconfident? For 40 years he had dealt successfully with popular protests. Why should the outcome in this case be any different? His statement that he and Aaron could bring water out of the rock (10) suggests that he may have felt he didn’t need God quite as much as he once did. Or was Moses too impulsive? Perhaps he lost his cool. Maybe he struck the rock twice (11) in anger. Certainly later generations believed his speech on this occasion (10) was “rash” (Psa. 106:33).
Christian leadership demands a deepening dependence on God (Acts 20:28). For this reason leaders need your prayers and encouragement (Heb. 13:17).
Take a few moments to pray for the leaders of your church.
Lord, I remember all those in leadership, whatever the sphere. Guide their thoughts. Guide their decisions. Give them wisdom, compassion, patience, and discernment.
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