Numbers 20:1-6, 8-13 NIV: “In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.
Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.”
Growing through Leadership Concept 4: Don’t Email Angry
I have several examples in mind of times where I emailed or texted when I was in an emotional state and regretted it after. Sometimes in the heat of the moment we have the perfect comeback or diatribe for the person or people that did or said something to us. It can be so satisfying to “let someone have it”.
For about two minutes.
Then you realize you may have said or done something from which there is no coming back, even if you apologize or make amends. It can be very difficult to erase the words or actions that we use in anger, and there can be consequences that last beyond that brief two minutes of satisfaction they bring.
In this story we read that Moses, in a moment of frustration with the community of people that had argued and complained to him, disobeyed God and struck the rock versus speaking to it to bring water.
When Moses struck the rock versus speaking to it, he did it in disobedience, made even worse by the fact that it was done in public. In his commentary on Numbers, Matthew Henry says, “That which aggravated all the rest, and made it more provoking, was that it was public, before the eyes of the children of Israel, to whom they should have been examples of faith, and hope, and meekness. We find Moses guilty of sinful distrust <in Numbers 11:22-23>. That was private between God and him, and therefore was only checked. But his was public; it dishonored God before Israel, as if he grudged them his favors, and discouraged the people’s hope in God…”
Of course in saying “don’t email angry” I am being a little cute in using this example we can all relate to. This idea isn’t limited to what we write, but also what we say and do in other ways.
The point of sharing all this is to say that as we grow in leadership, we need to learn to take a beat before responding. Especially if what we’re responding to has us fired up.
Pray. Think. Pray again.
James 1:19-20 NIV: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
“God, thank You for Your Spirit in my life. I pray that, especially as I experience hardship, or take offense, or feel the heat of emotion starting to take hold, that by Your Spirit You would prompt me to pray. I pray that You would bring to mind scripture, or remind me to seek the wisdom of those You’ve put in my life, to bring Your light and presence in Jesus’ name, amen.”