I was reading in Numbers the other day and came across the story of Moses bringing water from a rock for the Israelites to drink. Maybe you know it?
But after the water had miraculously poured from out of the side of the rock and everyone had been able to drink, there was a bit of fallout at the end of the story. In Numbers 20:12 God said to Moses and Aaron 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.'
At first glance reading through this text again my thought was "Whoa...harsh"! I mean, Moses really just hit the rock a couple of times instead of speaking to it as the Lord instructed.
No, it wasn't EXACTLY what God asked him to do...and yes, it was a little MELODRAMATIC. But ban both him and Aaron from entering the promised land for that? It really does seem extreme.
So there must be another message here...of course. A message about leadership and the weight of it - the incredible responsibility a leader carries to model an appropriate example for those that he/she leads. I say that because of one phrase...'you did not trust me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites.'
'You're making me look bad you guys! I gave you simple instructions and you blew it. You made it sound like YOU were bringing water out of the rock.' ('Must we bring you water out of this rock?' vs. 10)
'Remember when you said that?'
'I thought so. See how you totally left me out of the equation there? You didn't bring the water did you?'
'No. That's right, so who did?'
'Me...right again! So ...sorry to tell you gents, but when you lead, you represent, and you have represented me poorly. So, no promised land for you!'
You know, I wish I had a nickel for every time we have been involved in having to help a leader through a misstep who felt they were being treated unfairly...who thought their 'steps to restoration' were too harsh.
"But it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that I can't drink!" True. But having a few with a bunch of underage teenagers that you have been given the responsibility for leading...that's another story. I could give example after example but I won't. The fact is, leadership carries with it the weight of responsibility. And with that responsibility comes a heavier 'fine' if you will, when we fail to lead responsibly.
Aaron and Moses came to know this the hard way. Let's not repeat their failure. Let's learn from it.