Summary: Leadership in untested and unusual areas
First United Methodist Church
July 8, 2001
Rev. Monte Wike, Pastor
“First One in the River”
Leadership into untested areas.
A study through Joshua
GREATER TEXT: Joshua chapter 3.
TEXT: Joshua 3: 4c, “...that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.”
TEXT: Joshua 3: 13, “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.”
I. SANCTIFICATION BEFORE SERVICE
A. FOLLOWING THE ARK.
Joshua 3: 3, “And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.”
Leadership always is a product of follow-ship. Something to lead the leader. A goal, a dream, a vision, a plan, an idea, a mission, a need, a desire, a spoken word from God. Something to reach for, something to lead toward. Leadership without a plan is at best circular, and at worse, aimless. In essence, leadership without follow-ship is not leadership, but confusion. The most confused being at the head of the parade.
God made his plan indelibly clear to Joshua: “Go where the ark goes.” The ark was the physical presence of the Lord, but the ark had to be borne on the shoulders of dedicated and specialized priests. They had to be totally committed to obeying God without hesitation. What they were told to do, they did, where they were sent, they went. When God’s plan is not apparent to us, the Bible (our physical representation of the Word of God today) will speak in clear tones. Throughout its pages is the clear voice of God: “Follow Me.” (I Samuel 25: 27, Matthew 4: 19, 8: 22 and 9: 9 are just a few examples.) “This is the way, walk ye in it.” (Isaiah 30: 21) When we follow this directive, our lives will be straight and true. When we depart from the Word of God we depart from the blessings of God.
B. SPIRITUALLY PREPARED
Joshua 3: 4-5, “Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
Leadership is based not only on following a vision, but on mental, physical and spiritual preparation. Training is essential, discipline mandated, receptivity is paramount.
Readiness in leadership necessitates a space of preparation, a place of preparation, and a grace in preparation. The space between the people and the ark indicates the separation of the mundane and the holy. We must stand in awe at the presence of God. We cannot encroach upon His holiness, even when we
“First One in the River”, p. 2
are invited into His presence. The place was at the bank of the river, the place of need and facing danger. The grace was to purify ourselves in the presence of God.
Sanctify means to be spiritually purified, sins confessed and forgiven, hatreds and prejudices laid aside, love and fellowship restored, anything that would block the flow of the ministry and grace of God completely removed from one’s life, and joy and enthusiasm firmly in place.
Spiritual renewal is the greatest tool for leadership. It makes the difference between drudgery and delight, between farce and force, and between happen and happy. Without spiritual energy, leadership becomes just another job, a more responsible position. With God’s Spirit burning within, guiding and warning and challenging, leadership becomes a team-effort of our resources and abilities as human, and the Divine powers.
II. SIGNIFICANT STEPS IN SERVICE
Joshua 3: 7-8, “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.”
The transition from the leadership of Moses to that of Joshua was carefully orchestrated by God. Moses was such an overwhelming figure, had been at the job so long and so forcefully, that it would be easy for Joshua to be intimidated and fearful. God in several steps is making sure that Joshua fully understands his role, and the power and authority of God in his life. The call to courage, the commissioning of spies to survey the land, and now the actual move into occupied territory. Without this continual confirmation, Joshua would have been powerless before the people.