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The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Numbers 17-33, Psalms 28-29, Mark 4-10 and 1 Corinthians 13.

In Numbers 20, Israel was once again without water, wandering in the desert, and once again they had allowed the gravity pull of their circumstances to drag them into complaints, criticism and whining. God gave Moses instruction on how to partner with Him in providing the resource needed by His migrating people. The Lord told Moses: “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water” (v. 8).

The directions seemed simple and straightforward. Moses was to find a rock—it is the desert, after all—and “speak to [it].” But Moses blew it. He struck the rock twice with his staff, got it to release water for the people and their cows—and in doing so lost the privilege to lead the people into the Promised Land. What an epic failure!

What happened here? I mean, what part of “speak to the rock” did Moses not get? He defaulted to the tried-and-true method he knew to get water from a rock. He trusted the method he knew had worked in the past and, in doing so, lost the opportunity to compete his mission. Moses, seemingly provoked by the complaining masses, had given in to the gravity pull of his own flesh and smacked the rock.

Now, the rock is representative of Christ, struck once through the cross and then spoken to as our High Priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. But the point of the story is more simple: Moses didn’t believe God. He didn’t trust God. Moses chose instead to trust in what he knew, the method he had used before. In doing this, he declared himself independent of God and leaned on his own understanding. He disobeyed God, ultimately. He allowed his own frustration, fear and anger to get the best of him, which resulted in him not being allowed into the Promised Land. What an unnecessary failure!

Success as a leader of God's people—a servant-leader—is concisely defined in one word: obedience. Such obedience can only come from inherent trust in the Lord. When we trust, we obey; when we fear, we fail. When we trust in God’s methods—even when they seem crazy—we can succeed. When we trust in our own tried-and-true, go-to methods, we will fail. Not because the methods themselves are bad but because, in doing so, we leave behind our dependency on God. Servant-leaders must live with radical trust.

This trust is forged in the place of communion with the Father. Many servant-leaders end up finishing poorly because they trade intimacy with God for reliance on historically effective ways and means of doing ministry. But without cultivating communion with the Father, we will most always end up striking the Rock, rather than speaking to Him.

Ask yourself: In what do you trust? Is it the method of your ministry, or in the Living Water? We do live in a spiritual desert, and we need the Water. But don’t allow your own hurt and frustration with God’s people to cause you to miss entry into the Promised Land He has prepared for you in ministry. Don’t fear! Trust Him and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Don’t rely on your own understanding; speak to the Rock—and then obey what He says to do. This is how to achieve epic success.

By: Tom Johnston, senior pastor of Bedford Foursquare Church in Bedford, N.H.

Download the yearlong reading plan (PDF, 80 KB), or sign up for the full, online version of the Life Journal. To purchase a Life Journal for your own use, or to place a bulk order for church-wide use, visit Learn more about Foursquare's 2013 Life Journal project.

is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Orlando, Fla.