Summary: Joshua's Leadership depended on the call of God, the promise of God and the power of God and required courage, devotion and obedience.
Today I want to talk about leadership. How can we develop it in ourselves? How can we recognise it in others? But first let me ask you, do you want good leadership in the church?
I trust that you all said an emphatic yes to that! Well then, let me tell you how you can get it.
Choose leaders who have been called to leadership by God, choose leaders with courage, devotion and obedience to God and be people who in turn are obedient, courageous, loyal and encouraging of your leaders.
Let’s look at today’s passage to see how these three sets of conditions come out in the history of Joshua.
Three Partners in Leadership
The first thing to notice is that leadership here involves a 3-fold partnership, between God, the leader and the people.
The Call of God
“1After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' assistant, saying, 2‘My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites.’” Moses has gone. God has said he can’t enter the promised land. So the Israelites need someone new to lead them. There’ll be very difficult years ahead as they seek to conquer the land and drive out its pagan inhabitants. So God chooses Joshua. Now if we’d read through the book of Numbers before we came to Joshua we would have read how before they entered the Land Moses sent 12 spies to check it out. 10 of them returned saying they could never do it. But Joshua and Caleb came back and said that of course they could, because God was with them. Well the people didn’t listen to Joshua and Caleb so they spent another 40 years wandering in the desert until every one of them had died. Except for Caleb & Joshua, that is. So now God appoints Joshua to lead them.
The Promise of God
And as he calls him he gives him a promise; an assurance that if he takes on the job God will give him success.
He says, “3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life.” How would you feel if God said something like that to you? You’d feel indestructible wouldn’t you? It’d be like a great weight had been taken from your shoulders. “Wow. I thought God had given me an impossible task and now I realise that he’s going to look after me, give me success. What a relief!”
Actually, God has said something like that to you. Listen to the words of 1 Peter 1: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us ... an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” And in 2 Peter 1: “3His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Protected by the power of God. His Power has given us everything needed for life and godliness. Wow! What relief!
The Power of God
Joshua was promised the power of God just as we are: “5As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”
The great thing about being called to be a leader in God’s church is that you don’t have to depend on your own ability or power or cleverness. God promises to supply all the power you need.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything to make your leadership work. Look at what was required of Joshua.
2 The Leader
The first requirement for Joshua was courage. He was about to lead an army into occupied territory. This was to be a difficult job, even if God was with them. There’d be battles and death. There’d be fortresses and giants to contend with. Only a brave leader would be able to carry it through. So God tells him: “7Only be strong and very courageous.” Maybe you wouldn’t be quite so keen on being chosen as a leader if you heard those words.
There’s always this balance in the Christian life, isn’t there? God tells us he will be with us and look after us. But he also tells us to be strong and courageous. Phil 2 puts it like this: “12Therefore, my beloved, ... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Work out your own salvation ... God is at work in you, enabling you. It’s a double sided coin.