Pastor Jim, filled with regret, sat wondering what happened. His outburst of anger had seemed to come from out of nowhere.
The night before he stormed out of his council meeting. Now, after his blow up, he would not only face dealing with the original issue but also doing damage control.
However, before we come down too hard on Pastor Jim, let’s remember Moses. Moses, my personal hero in terms of leading difficult people, flew off the handle one day, too.
Fed up with grumbling, he struck the rock symbolizing Christ. Not once, but twice. His failure cost him big! After all those years of devoted dedication to achieving one goal, he would now not be permitted to enter the Promised Land.
Did Moses’ – and Jim’s – failure actually represent an isolated, “where did this come from” type of moment? Although admittedly reading between the lines, let’s examine several possibilities.
Resentment: Perhaps Moses had allowed resentment to start growing long before striking the rock. Could the same have happened to Jim?
Insufficient Spiritual Examination: Moses sought the Lord just prior to the event of striking the rock (Numbers 20:6). He started off following the Lord’s instructions (Numbers 20:9). Yet, he sinned. He had prayed but not prayed through to the point of sufficient self-examination and repentance. We all need careful self-examination before God.
Hot Buttons: Again we don’t know, but perhaps someone said something that struck a nerve with Jim. Maybe at some point, Moses, too. For sure, the people were getting on his nerves. Unresolved, personal sensitivities can be set off in an instant and lead us to say or do things we may later regret.
Pastor Jim, upon reflection, may find one of the causes above at the root of his “it came out of nowhere moment.” Perhaps he may uncover some other root cause. In any case, no human behavior actually comes out of “nowhere”.
The next time you react in a way that surprises you, take some time for reflection to see if you can gain insight into your reaction. That will help you take steps to address the problem. Here’s a prayer along those lines:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.…( Psalm 139: 23-14, NAS)
The first step to avoiding future flare ups: gain insight. We cannot fix a problem we don’t know we have. Emotionally intelligent leaders take time for prayerful self-reflection to gain personal and relational insight.
Note: "Pastor Jim" is not a real person but his story is based on true events.