Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What Does a Leader Need to Hear Over and Over?

There's a great leadership lesson about strength and courage to be learned from the life of Joshua.

Joshua had demonstrated his potential from the time he was a young man. Joshua was one of the 12 sent to spy out the land of Canaan - and one of the two who proved confident in God's leading. Joshua had spent many years serving as Moses' aide. Let's not underestimate the leadership development power of association with godly men! Think of how it would affect a man to stand outside the tent of meeting where God met Moses face to face (Exodus 33:11).

As he neared death, Moses tells the people that Joshua will lead them, and that they must be strong and courageous:

1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' 3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said. 4 And the LORD will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deut 31:1-8)

The Lord commissions Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land:

14 The LORD said to Moses, "Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the Tent of Meeting, where I will commission him." So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the Tent of Meeting.
23 The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: "Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you." (Deut 31:14, 23)

This commissioning probably occurred through Moses laying hands on Joshua (see Deut 34:9)

Then after Moses dies, Joshua is again told to be strong and courageous (3 times!):

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: 2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates-all the Hittite country-to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:1-9)

Finally the people ask Joshua to be strong and courageous:

16 Then they answered Joshua, "Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!" (Joshua 1:16-18)

Let's review: Who is told to be strong and courageous?
Moses tells the people of Israel (Deut 31:1-6)
Moses tells Joshua (Deut 31:7-8)
The Lord tells Joshua -- several times (Joshua 1:1-9)
The people tell Joshua (Joshua 1:16-18)

(And it doesn't end here: at the end of his life, Joshua commands the people to be very strong -- Joshua 23:6)

It's safe for us to infer that leaders should be strong and courageous! The fact that this is repeated so much here suggests:
o The great danger for leaders to guard against is slipping back to our default state: timidity and fear.
o Leaders need to be reminded of the important things.
o Leaders need to remind people of the important things (being strong, courageous, and obeying God's commands).
o Being reminded frequently is a sign of God's love and compassion on us.

Let's strive to be strong and courageous leaders for God's people within the spheres of influence God gives us. Our situation today is no different than this biblical history: we have a bright future, we're a called people, we need godly leadership, and we need to be strong and courageous.

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