Summary: We may learn leadership in one of two ways: by making our own blunders, or learning from someone else’s.
Pastor Dave Campbell
It has been said that we may learn leadership in two ways: by making a lot of mistakes or learning from other people’s. The collapse of leadership displayed in our text is nothing short of disastrous. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all is that the ten spies who returned with an evil report were actually the leaders from among the people. We can easily pick out at least five major leadership blunders from numbers 13:
1. THEY MISUNDERSTOOD THEIR MANDATE
Numbers 13:17-20 indicates that the spies were not mandated to see IF they can take the land, but HOW they are to go in. A common mistake that we as leaders can make is over-analyzing our call. We look at it from every angle we can to see how we can pull it off and we can even talk our-selves out of doing what God told us to do.
2. THEY GOT FOCUSED ON THE CHALLENGES
When the leaders of Israel saw the land, they saw everything from good to bad. They made the mistake of allowing their focus to be drawn to their inadequacies. Good leaders will not draw attention to the weaknesses. Neither would they let the facts obscure the truth. When they reported strong people and fortified walls and descendants of Anak, they were stating the facts. The fact is that the inhabitants WERE strong and the cities WERE hard to conquer, but the truth is, they were able to take the land. Good, godly leaders can state the facts, but they will also state the truth and offset the negative with faith building words. "Yes, the job will be difficult. Yes, we feel inadequate for the job, but the truth is God is Awesome and we are able!"
3. THEY FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THEIR POTENTIAL IN GOD
The Lord seeks people of faith to give leadership to His church. Such stuff was obviously lacking in the hearts of these ten spies. In fact, they actually went so far as to refer to themselves as grasshoppers and erroneously declared that it would be the way their enemies would see them also (Num. 13:33). We learn from Rahab that the people of Canaan were actually terrified of the people of Israel once they heard of God’s intervention on their behalf (Joshua 2:8-11). Their "hearts melted with fear". Too bad Israel’s leaders didn’t have the same confidence in God’s power as their enemies did.
4. THEY FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTAGIOUS EFFECT OF A NEGATIVE REPORT
Numbers 14.1 describes the mass hysteria that occurred after they heard the spy’s assessment. All the people raised their voices and wept aloud. There was no rejoicing or dancing in the streets. There was no excitement or anticipation of great and new things in the Lord. There was only the tragic sound of a defeated people. The people completely bought into the spy’s evaluation of the situation and believed it entirely. Never under-estimate the power of your words, especially if you are respected as a leader! I wonder if you have any idea how important you are to the morale and atmosphere of your church! The vision that you cast to the people will either make or break the direction of a church! Victory rises and falls on the faith of the leaders.