Even a great leader can fall into sin when frustrated over the difficulties of leading his congregation.. He was clearly angry and frustrated, he spoke to the congregation (instead of the rock) and said “hear now your rebels”. He also took credit for the miracle “shall we bring water out of this rock”.
Though Moses had just come from the glory of God, he disobeyed God’s command to speak to the rock. He struck it twice. He did not tell the congregation the Lord provided the water. He did not tell the congregation the Lord was present (Ex. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4). He did not uphold God as holy before the congregation.
God holds leaders to a higher standard because they represent him and must model his character and holiness. So, they must do and teach the right thing or face discipline. But the followers also have a duty toward their leaders. They are to follow them. Hebrews 13:17 says “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
There is no joy for the leader of a congregation of rebels, as Moses demonstrated. One problem with the congregational model, adopted by most American Baptists, is the sense of a right to rebel. Sometimes even to organize a rebellion against the leaders, whether pastor or teacher. That is not the model of the Bible, which presents us with a structure of authority, with Christ at the head, a servant leader or leaders below, and obedient, submitting followers who all together accomplish the will of God and bring glory to his name.