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The Temptation to Strike the Rock

Posted on January 24th, 2014

Bruce Gangnier’s sculpture of Moses Striking the Rock captures the one of the great temptations of leadership. Moses was commanded by God to speak to the rock so his “church” (2-3 million strong) might have water to drink. Instead, out of great frustration and anger, he struck the rock twice with his staff (Numbers 20:7-12). Moses never sees the Promised Land.

Many of us miss the joy and peace of leading others in Jesus’ name (our Promised Land) because we are anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated and tired. The people get their water, as the Israelites did, but we pay a steep price. I have struck the rock more times than I want to count. Why? There are 2 temptations:

1. To build our own kingdom. We become unsure if we can trust God to grow our churches. So we help Him along, initiating programs and ministries to move the church along without consulting Him.

2. To force things because we are in a rush. God’s ways are slow, really slow (a 1000 years are like a day). The last are first. God works when we sleep. The meek inherit the earth. His kingdom is small and little like a mustard seed. This seems like a crazy plan to change the world.

I know I am not in a good place to make decisions when I am stressed, anxious, worried, uptight, on edge, rushing, or self-absorbed. I can feel it in my body when I am not in a deep center of loving union with Jesus. When that happens, it is only a matter of time before I start striking some rocks!

Do you know your warning signs when you are about to “strike the rock” in your leadership?

(If you are interested, I preached a sermon on this theme recently called, “The Kingdom: God’s Dream for the World.”)


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