By Stewart Holloway
As a leader, you are going to to get frustrated . . . aggravated . . . and just plain out mad.
Some preachers might say, “I am so grieved in my spirit”, but they’re just trying to cover the fact that they are ticked off!
Things aren’t going to go as you had hoped.
People are going to disappoint.
Nay sayers are going to say.
Complainers are going to complain.
“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” (Thank you, Taylor Swift).
It happens to all of us. Preachers have “preacher Mondays.” That’s when we want to quit because Sunday didn’t go quite like we had hoped. Maybe bankers have banker blues, and lawyers have lawyer lulls. I don’t know what you call it when you’ve had enough, but you have those times.
And, guess what? It’s o.k.
On Wednesday nights at our church, I’ve been teaching through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. These books of the Old Testament cover the story of God, with the assistance of Moses, leading the Israelites out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land.
I’ve been interested to notice how many times Moses got ticked at the Israelites. I mean, sling some spit, kick a cat, scream in a pillow mad! A couple of times he even tells God, “Just kill me now! I’ve had it with these griping people!” (see Numbers 11:15).
I can’t blame Moses. The Israelites griped about water. They complained about food. They were jealous of Moses’ leadership. They even had the audacity to say, “Things were better in Egypt. Remember those good old days?” Really? Slavery was better? Goofy people.
I’ve noticed something else as we’ve journeyed through these books – there are times when God has had it with the people as well! Several times God gets angry at the people. I mean, burn-you-up-in-a-second mad. A few times God even punishes the people by taking out a few thousand of them! I read that and think, “Alrighty then.”
A couple of times God even tells Moses, “I’m going to wipe out every last one of these sorry people and build a new nation through you!” (Holloway Amplified Version – but,seriously, look at Numbers 14:12). Thankfully, each time, Moses intercedes for the people, even though he is just as mad at them, and God relents.
If Moses and God can have enough, I would think you and I can to. It’s o.k. to have those days. The challenge is to manage that frustration appropriately. Moses certainly wasn’t perfect, but I’ve noticed several things about his and God’s dealing with those times when they had had enough.
First, honor God’s name. When God wanted to wipe out all the people, Moses asked Him to think of what that would do to the glory of His name among the pagan nations who were watching the Israelites. When you are faced with a moment of frustration, remember, as a Christian leader, you must honor God’s name. You can’t go cursing out your employees and pitching a fit – that’ll get you nowhere. A wise old preacher once said, “A pastor can destroy a 30 year ministry with a 30 second fit.” I would figure much the same could be said in any other profession.
Second, you need to pray. Moses often falls to his face in prayer when faced with frustration and rebellion. We would do well to pray more and argue less. At our deacons meeting on Monday night, our chairman, Harry Ingalls, reminded us, “We can do more than pray, but we cannot do less than pray.”
Third, be quick to forgive. Moses forgave the people, and God forgave the people – for all their orneriness, ingratitude, and unfaithfulness. Forgiveness is needed in leadership. Sometimes punishment is needed (it certainly happened to the Israelites), but the purpose of punishment is to lead to repentance and forgiveness.
Yes, sometimes you’re going to have enough. What matters is how you handle your frustration.
Stewart Holloway is pastor of First Baptist Church in Pineville. This editorial first appeared on the First@First Business Leader Luncheon Facebook page.