Summary: Leadership, as in a nation, changes. We must always be finding, and training new leaders to guide the church in the days ahead.
January 28, 2001 Deut. 31:1-8
¡§New leaders ¡V changing of the guard¡¨
Our nation has just completed the process that we go through every 4 years. Last Saturday, most of you probably watched as George W. Bush was sworn in as our nation¡¦s 43rd president. We chose a new leader. From what I have seen so far, we have chosen a good one. There are a lot of people that don¡¦t like George W. Bush though. They don¡¦t like his policies, they don¡¦t like his choices for cabinet, and they especially don¡¦t like his relationship with God. That¡¦s o.k. though. All they have to do is wait another 4 years ¡V or at the most, 8 ¡V and they will have a change of leadership in the White House. Our system is like that. You give a guy his chance to make an impact on the nation and the world, and then you kick him out regardless of whether he did a good job or a bad job. Four years from now, we¡¦ll go through the whole thing all over again. Hopefully, by then, we¡¦ll have a better voting system than we do right now.
Israel¡¦s method of choosing and keeping leaders wasn¡¦t like ours. When they found a good leader, they kept that leader until he died. For forty years now, Israel had been following the only leader that they had ever known. But they are getting ready to go somewhere that he could not go. Moses had sinned against God. Now, he was prevented from seeing the completion of the job which he had begun. A new leader had to be chosen. The people couldn¡¦t do the job of entering the land and casting out those who were presently there without someone to guide them. Someone has said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Another has said that a body will grow only to the extent of the number and quality of its leaders. Who was the new leader going to be? How were they going to make it through the transition? Was everything going to fall apart?
Here in our church ¡V New Life Baptist Church ¡V we are searching for new leaders. We are searching for persons who will be trustees and deacons. We are looking for persons who will lead in Sunday School. We need people who will lead in caring, prayer, worship, and bringing people to Jesus. As you know, our church is in the financial situation that requires me to search for a second job. When I find one, that will mean that I will not be as available to do many of the things that I presently do. That leaves us with two possibilities. Either they will not get done, or someone else is going to step up, take on the mantel of leadership and say, ¡§I will do it.¡¨ ¡§Not me! I couldn¡¦t do witnessing or praying or leading a Sunday School class!¡¨ How do you know whether or not you are that person? This morning, I want us to take a look at the changing of the guard between the leadership of Moses and the leadership of Joshua. We¡¦re going to ask and answer three questions this morning ¡V what qualifies leaders, what empowers leaders, and what scares leaders. As we look at these verses, I want you to ask yourself this question: Has God chosen me to be a leader? Let¡¦s read verses 1-8 of Deuteronomy 31.
1. What qualifies leaders? (vs. 1-3)
If you were getting ready to be put into a position of leadership, would you rather follow someone who was a successful leader or a failure as a leader? If you follow a failure, then expectations are low. Anything you do couldn¡¦t be any worse than the guy before you. You¡¦ve got no place to go but up. The advantage of following a success is that when you take office, if you have the same ideas and leadership style as the guy before you, then everything will already be in good shape. You just continue what the guy before you did. That¡¦s probably would have been the situation of Gore had followed President Clinton. The disadvantage of following a success is that expectations are high. You¡¦ve got big shoes to fill. Chances of disappointment and failure are high.
Imagine yourself as Joshua. You¡¦re getting ready to step into Moses¡¦ shoes. Talk about stepping into some big shoes! This is the guy who stood up to Pharoah without flinching and said, ¡§Let my people go!¡¨ This is the guy who God used to bring 10 plagues on the Egyptians, to part the Red Sea, and to deliver the Ten Commandments. This is the guy that God spoke to directly. This is the guy who had so much compassion and meekness that he was willing to give up his own salvation if that¡¦s what it took for God not to destroy the Israelites. What an act to follow. Last week, Jeff Clark talked about how much he hated having to follow the kids when they presented their interpretive movement at the constitution service. You kids did such a great job. Jeff did a good job of following them though, didn¡¦t he. But how would you like to follow Moses as the leader of the nation of Israel? What had qualified Moses to be their leader, and what now qualified Joshua?