The Humanity of a Leader

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As we saw last week, everyone is capable of influencing others; everyone is a leader in some capacity (see Matthew 5:13). However, as we all know, every leader is imperfect. Every leader is prone to making rash decisions, communicating poorly, getting angry or frustrated, and making many other mistakes. Every leader is a fallen human needing a savior. 

Leaders should be humble when they fail and grow through their mistakes (see Proverbs 16:18). Leaders who quickly admit and repent to others when they have made a mistake are leaders who will ultimately carry greater influence. Why? Because the primary role of a Christian in leadership is to point people to the only one who can save. Humility is a great place to start (see Numbers 12:3). 

In the book of Numbers Chapter 20 we read about a defining moment in the life of Moses when he made a hasty decision that cost him dearly. 

Falling before God

This event took place in the Israelites’ fortieth year of wandering. The area of Kadesh was a familiar place where they had likely camped several times before. They came back to this place because there was water. It had been a good place to set up camp. But this time, the spring was dry, and they were getting desperate. 

The people began to complain to Moses and Aaron, as they had done many times in the past. But Moses did not respond by trying to argue with them; rather he fell on his face in prayer before the Lord (see Numbers 20:6). 

What a lesson in leadership. Moses didn’t defend himself; he went to the Lord, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 

As Christian leaders, our instinct when we are criticized is to defend ourselves and try to convince our critics that we are doing what the Lord is leading. But the Lord doesn’t need us to defend Him.  Instead, we need to go before Him and allow Him to encourage us and give us the way forward. This is so hard to do in the heat of the moment. 

Falling before the flesh 

The Lord gave Moses instructions to follow in order to bring water from the rock (see Numbers 20:8). God told Moses to take the staff that signifies his authority and to speak to the rock, declaring that the rock must yield its water. 

But Moses was weak and worn out.  In spite, he called the people rebels, drawing attention to his own authority. And instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice. 

Though Moses hadn’t followed the Lord’s instructions, the water began to flow, sufficient for millions of people and their livestock. Despite the seeming success,

Moses failed the Lord, and God disciplined him by not allowing him to progress with the nation into the Promised Land. 

This seems like a very harsh punishment for mere indiscretion, at least in our eyes. We can easily sympathize with Moses. He was old, tired, and frustrated. He had been leading these rebellious people for 40 years, and they kept quarreling with him. On top of it all, he was grieving the recent death of his sister. 

Moses lost his temper (See Psalm 106:32-33). Have you ever lost your temper and done something you regret? I certainly have. 

Failing has consequences

For his act of unbelief and his failure to give God glory in upholding His holiness before the nation, Moses forfeited his right to lead the people into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12). 

We wrestle with this. We want to see Moses getting a pass, but this is an important lesson for us. When we are under stress, overwhelmed, tired, or even grieving, we are not  excused  to sin. Circumstances are no excuse to disobey God (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). 

But what about grace? After all, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, right? 

Not so fast. When we fail to obey God, there are often consequences that we must live with. 

The second century Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, said, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

When it comes to our relationships, for example, we may repent of our offense, but often the tear in the relationship lingers. Moses had to live with the consequence of his failure. We have to live with the consequences of ours.

Failing is not defeat

This is wonderfully encouraging for us. Many characters in the Bible failed but were forgiven and used mightily by God. Take the Apostle Peter as an example. He denied Jesus three times at his crucifixion, but Jesus graciously restored him. Peter went on to be a powerful apostle and church leader. 

When we have  as a leader; been hasty in our response to criticism, gotten angry or irritable, the enemy loves to whisper that we are done and should resign and walk away. But Jesus came to free us from sin, guilt, and the accusation of the enemy (see Psalm 147:3, 1 John 1:9). 

The rock that Moses struck in Numbers 20 is a picture of Christ. Moses was instructed to speak to the rock and do nothing more (see 1 Corinthians 10:4). The reason why Moses was told to speak to the rock and not strike it is because, when it comes to the Gospel message of salvation, there is nothing we need to do to add to the completed work of Christ.

None of us are perfect. In our brokenness, we desperately need a savior. As we are daily faced with our humanity and weakness, we can go to the Rock that is Jesus for living water that refreshes our souls.

Failure is not defeat because the Gospel is true. 

Falling before Jesus

What are you dealing with today? You may be dealing with the consequences of sin, and that is a normal and a painful part of life. But you can be free from the accusation and the guilt of your sin. 

Why not repent right now and allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:9)?