Summary: Five leadership lessons from Joshua 1. A Father's Day message.
Be Strong and Courageous
Rev. Brian Bill
June 17-18, 2017
Since our youngest daughter has now graduated from high school, it got me thinking about how many graduation speeches I’ve heard. Some have been very good and others, well, not so good. I’ve given some speeches myself…some were good, and others, well, not so much.
About a month ago Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote a blog post for the Gospel Coalition called, “Beware the Graduation Speech.” Here’s part of what he said.
The truth is: you can’t do anything you set your mind to. You can’t be whatever you want to be. You aren’t the last, best hope for planet earth. You shouldn’t always follow your dreams. You shouldn’t always believe in yourself. And you shouldn’t expect life’s most meaningful gifts to come through unchecked self-expression.
Most commencement addresses boil down to three sentiments:
1. You’re amazing.
2. Follow your dreams.
3. Never give up.
The classic description of character is barely heard in today’s moral exhortations. Which is why most graduation speeches posit a different set of virtues: differentiation, self-expression, confidence, and a “don’t let other people stand in your way” stick-to-it-tiveness.
The cardinal virtues that anchored moral thought in the west for 2,500 years have been largely forgotten…today’s courage--as self-willed perseverance--bears some semblance to the older definition, but missing are the accompanying virtues of patience and self-sacrifice for the sake of others.
On Father’s Day, the message to dads is often similar to graduation speeches – step it up, man up, be strong, be courageous.
I recognize that this day is difficult for some of you because your dad is no longer here. On Tuesday night I spoke on Samson to about 50 teenage guys from Rock Island at Camp Summit, a ministry of Youth Hope, one of our Go Team partners. I emphasized how Samson was strong on the outside but because he never had self-control, romance and revenge led to his downfall. I got there early and was drawn to a withdrawn 16-year-old so sat with him for supper and for the singing time. His shoulders were slumped and he made no eye contact. I asked the camp director about his story and he said that his dad died just months ago.
Some of you have a dad who has deserted you. And there are dads here today who feel discouraged and others who’ve been dissed by their kids. Still others are delighted to be dads but don’t really like the attention Father’s Day brings.
Our text for today is often taken out of context: “Be strong and courageous.” You’ll often hear it quoted as a synonym for being tough and tenacious.
We’re going to discover how the context of this phrase, which is actually used three times in Joshua 1, will help us grow not only as dads, but also as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Instead of just telling Joshua that because he’s amazing he should follow his dreams and never give up, we’re going to see that because God is amazing, He has some plans for Joshua. Because God is strong, Joshua can be courageous.
Lean in and listen to Joshua 1:1-9: “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “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. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 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. 5 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. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 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. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”