Lessons from Joshua – Part 1

Joshua 1

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 

The book of Joshua has so much leadership insight.  I have been challenged by several things just from the first chapter.  The seven verses at the top of the page show us that as we lead there are…

8 Things We Need to Know

1. Someone Has Gone Before Us – (1-2a)

The life of Joshua is one the best examples in scripture of someone who is an exceptional follower who is then given leadership responsibility.  Just like Joshua follows Moses, most our leadership opportunities will follow the work of someone else.  I believe this is important to recognize for two reasons.

First, it reminds us that we have a great opportunity to begin building leadership equity with others well before we have the position as the leader.  Joshua maximized his time with Moses by working hard, being loyal and patient. These things were obviously noticed and appreciated by all the other people.  This made Joshua’s move into leadership a smooth one.

Second, it prompts us to enter into a new leadership position without a lot of pomp or pride.  Moses had devoted followers who liked the way he led and if Joshua jumps in and makes a bunch of changes right away things could go poorly.  We should be respectful, try to honor any leader that has gone before us and try not to rock the boat too much when we first arrive.

2. We’ve Been Called (by God) – (2b)

God clearly calls Joshua into this leadership position.  This is a big deal not just because he got the job, but because Joshua would now have to shift his focus.  He would have to shift from focusing on tasks to serving the people.  He wold have to change his mindset from, “I’m going to get to the Promised Land” to “I’ve got to get all of these people into the Promised Land”.

We know from several places in scripture that leadership is a gift (Romans 12.8 & Psalms 78:70-72).  A gift is something that cannot be earned but is given by the owner.  To know that our position of leadership has been given to us from God should kill our pride and increase our love for the people God has given us to lead.

3. We Will Be Followed – (2b)

If God has called us to lead it means that He has also given us people to lead.  Its important to not overlook the people because we’re so enamored by the position.  When we first show up on the job, the team will follow us initially but the only thing that will keep them following is if they believe we care more about them than we do about our position as the leader.

The biggest win in leadership is not to get the team to do what we want them to do but to get them to want what we want.  When we model for the team what we expect from the team and take time to equip and serve them, they’ll begin to own more than their specific role.  Everyone will begin to want what the leader wants, primarily team success over individual comfort.

4. We Will Be Equipped by God – (3)

God tells Joshua that he is going to succeed.  God has made a promise to Joshua that he will see the people enter the Promised Land and take possession of it.

When God calls us into leadership, He has made us a promise just like He made to Joshua.  He promises to give us everything we need to be successful.  If this is true, then we have no reason go feel insecure and we have no reason to think that there is a lid on our capacity to lead.

One of the most important things I have ever learned about God is that He cannot ask anything from us that He hasn’t already provided to us.  Whether tithing, gifting or faith, God gives us the resource to draw our contributions from and leadership is no exception.

Also, knowing that its God who equips us helps us fight against pride.  We can never really say, “I did it” because the truth will always leave us saying, “He did it!”

5. God Has Something for Us that is Bigger Than We Think – (4)

God gives Joshua the boundaries of the Promised Land and I’m betting that the scope of it was beyond what Joshua could have previously imagined.  I believe this is a result of Joshua proving to be a faithful steward over all that the Lord or Moses had given him to do.

As we steward well what is in our hands now, we can know God is bringing something more that we could have ever imagined (Ephesians 3:20 & The Parable of the Talents).  Everyone who leads wants more and we see throughout scripture that the key to more later is being a faithful steward now.

We can decide to not be patient and to push for more now, but we do so inside of this reality… God’s least will always be more than my most.  Knowing that God has something great in store for us, as we faithfully steward what we have now, should work well to keep us from going it on our own.

6. No One (outside of us) Will Be Able to Stop Us – (5)

God’s team is always the winning team.  We know that even when things seem bleak, He will not be stopped.  The only catch to this idea is that we can freely choose to stop trusting in Him and bail out.  If we do, the only thing that changes is our ability to be there when God does exactly what He intended to do.

There are so many places in the bible that show this to be true.  One of my favorites is this one:

2 Kings 6
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lordopened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariotsof fire all around Elisha.

7. We Work to Be Great (a lot of people are depending on us) – (6)

God tells Joshua quite plainly that it is up to him to get the people to the place they need to go.  If it is true that everything rises and falls on leadership, then we have to own the reality that a lot of people are counting on us to be a good leader.  The team’s success is dependent on the leader’s success.

That can increase the pressure we feel or the potential we see.  If we are believing numbers 1 to 6 above, then there is no need to let this increase the pressure we feel.  We can lead knowing that God will equip us to do exactly what He has called us to do and as we walk in that truth a lot of others will benefit.

8. There’s a Right Way to Lead – (7)

I believe that “strong and courageous” is the same as faith.  The right way to lead is to lead by faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Then Hebrews 11:6 shows us the importance of faith with this truth, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Faith is never a risk and certainly not a leap into the unknown.  Faith is simply believing in the promises of God more than we fear the circumstances we are currently in.  It is believing and leading with the promises of God as our certainty that produces courage and strength.