The Angry Leader
There is a curious scene in the life of Moses as it involved the infamous incident with the Golden Calf. You remember, I’m sure, that while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the people of God were in the valley building an idol. Moses actually tells God to calm down, but when Moses lays eyes upon the scene himself, he explodes with his own vent of anger. He takes the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them and throws them to the ground, breaking them.
Why would Moses do this? These were the Ten Commandments after all. The Bible describes the tablets this way,
Exodus 32:16 (ESV)
The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
Moses took something that God had actually made with His own hand, engraved with His own hand, and destroyed it. Did Moses deserve to be angry because of the actions of God’s people? You bet. But as a leader, he should have acted better than to throw a tantrum and destroy these Ten Commandments that were meant for God’s people.
I have a friend who pastors a church in a rural part of Arkansas. He is a man of God, has a godly wife and kids, and is an excellent pastor. Recently a deacon in his church attempted to lead a movement to get rid of him. This same deacon was actually on the search committee that called my friend, but he was the one person on the committee that voted “no.” This deacon’s wife has been known to single out the children of my friend, and to scold and discipline them publically in front of others. It’s a bad situation for sure. Things escalated when this deacon, on a Sunday morning, called for a vote of confidence on my friend. I wonder how I would have handled this situation. Did my pastor friend deserve to be angry? You bet. Did he decide to throw his Bible down or kick over the pulpit? No. He handled the situation with grace. He stood in front of his congregation, next to the man calling for this ridiculous vote of confidence, and held himself with great composure. While he may have been steaming inside, he was cool and collected on the outside. What happened next? The people in the congregation overwhelmingly rejected to even hold the vote of confidence. In doing so they rejected the viewpoint of this deacon. Good for this church, and good for my friend.
Moses blew it when he threw down and broke that which God had made. He lost his cool. But Moses is a work in progress as a leader. Did God do away with him? No, BUT God did not ignore Moses’ actions either.
Passage for Reflection: Exodus 34:1-4
Exodus 34:1 (ESV)
The Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
Don’t you love it? God wants His people to see these Ten Commandments but this time, God makes Moses cut the tablets out of stone himself. AND he gives him a deadline that requires him to work all night long. Can’t you just see Moses chipping away on some giant piece of granite, working to fashion two tablets of stone for God to write on? Each blow of the hammer reminded him that it is always better to exercise control in the face of anger…even if that anger is justified.
So the point of all this? God never gives up on us…but neither does he let us stray from his corrective hand.
“Lord, teach me control. Amen.”