Looking back… Looking forward.

looking-backVerse 1&2 of chapter 23 in Joshua read like this: “A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel…” Knowing his life on earth was near its end, Joshua takes one last stand as the great leader of Israel and calls together a meeting of the people to take them on a trip down memory lane. As I read these verses I wondered  what “rest” would have looked like for Joshua and the people of Israel? I can imagine that they began to settle in and build for themselves a home, a place were they could raise their families, establish their crops and get busy with life.

Even today we may find the same type of “rest”; we can become complacent with life, we can develop a sense of comfort within the day-to-day happenings and lose sight of where we have been and maybe even forget where we are heading. Like Joshua we need to take hold of the opportunities once and a while to look back on how God has been faithful to us in the past. We need to reflect not only on the good things in life but the things that were hard and how as a church or individual we have grown through those experiences.

Moving forward Joshua reminded the people of Israel that they needed to “fear the Lord, and serve Him with all faithfulness”. (24:14). Joshua challenged their faith and they responded by pledging to faithfully serve the Lord. This is my job; this is every leaders job in the church today, we must be taking our cues from men like Joshua. We must be marching forward serving the Lord and serving others so they might know who writes our story. We like the Israelites have to be reminded to serve with all faithfulness in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

God… The Master Planner

MapImagine for a minute the weight of the responsibility Joshua had to face in distributing the land among the twelve tribes. I often face adversity when having to referee my three girls as they protect their own space between their bedrooms and best places to play around the house. Joshua and the Israelites made it to a point where they could see beyond the major battles and conquests and begin to settle into the land that was promised to them through their fathers. I wonder about the disputes that happened between the people as the land was divided up, how many decisions would have been appealed because someone didn’t get a Dead-Sea view or beach access along the Mediterranean shores.

There is a certain amount of curiosity inside my mind that wants to see a picture of how Joshua approached this task. What did the planning documents look like, how did he select the land and why did the people listen to him. One of the things that I pick up on as I read between the lines of the awkward pronunciations of the names of the tribes, clans and cities is that Joshua is receiving his plans from God, He is orchestrating the whole event. God through Moses and Joshua had designed the plan for inheritance by direct order and some through the casting of lots.

Joshua’s dependence on God for direction in every area of this journey is inspiring, his faith in trust for protection as they battled, his kindness and patience as he distributed the land and his commitment to keeping the people on track with God is something to be desired as leaders. Joshua was a successful leader because of his faith in God. At the end of the day, at the end of my time it would be my hope and prayer that someone could write the same about me… Steve was a great leader because of his faith in God, not because it’s about me but because it is all about God.

The New Kid on the Block

Leader2Before I jump in and try and understand how Joshua built and managed the vast groups and teams entrusted to him I have to comment on his calling and direction from the Lord. Chapter one of Joshua outlines the commissioning of Joshua. After the death of Moses the Lord speaks directly to Joshua giving him instructions to move forward and take the people into the land that was promised to them. Joshua had a huge task before him and He knew that the Lord was with him just as he promised to Moses before him.

As Joshua assumes command over the entire nation of people he depends on the partnership of the officers and leaders and to help communicate the instructions handed down from the Lord for their journey ahead. Fitting into the shoes of one of the greatest leaders before him, Joshua had to be strong and courageous, a command given to him over and over at the start of his journey. As a leader it would have been music to his ears to hear the people respond as they did in verse seventeen of chapter one “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.

Joshua does not magically appear out of nowhere to become the new leader, he has apprenticed alongside Moses first quietly behind the scenes then becoming a commander of the army and his right hand man. Joshua had earned the respect of the people and I think that was one of the key factors in his success as a leader, aside for his own trust in the Lord. As I learn more about how God has been working in my life I see how he has been doing the same work in my life as he did in Joshua’s. As I continue to grow into leadership apprenticing with a strong leader and man of God it is my hope and prayer that I can gain the trust and respect that will help lead the way to building the Kingdom of God as God has called me to.

Moses and Joshua – Mentoring Team Dynamics

It is said that Joshua was around 85 years old at the time when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. He died at the age of 110, which means he led the Israelites for about 25 years. I have to ask myself this question, what did he do for the first 85 years before he became the successor to one of the greatest leaders in biblical history? The answer I would suggest is that he was being mentored by one of the greatest leaders in biblical history.

As we read through the story of the exodus we begin to see the process of mentoring and leadership development that formed Joshua into the leader God called him to be. We are first introduced to Joshua as Moses tasks him as commander of the army that was to destroy the Amalekites, then we don’t see or hear much of Joshua until later when he arrives on the scene with Moses at the base of the mount of Sinai.

Although we have only a few details into the “ 85 year mentorship program” of Joshua we do get a glimpse into how the Lord teaches us some important leadership lessons and the value of mentoring. Joshua had the opportunity to work alongside Moses being involved in the day-to-day leadership of the people. Moses gave Joshua the roles and responsibilities that helped shape him into the leader God planned for him to be. Numbers 27:15-21 describes the commissioning of Joshua by Moses, giving him some of his authority over Israel, Joshua was “filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses laid his hands on him”. (Deut 34:9)

Did Joshua have an advantage over us today as leaders during the mentoring process with Moses? I don’t think so, it may have been in a different time and place but I think that we all have our own unique growth experiences as leaders. In fact I think we may even have an advantage in most cases, we have the stories and examples written for us in the Bible. We can learn from downfalls and victories that are written of all the great leaders and teachers throughout the Old and New Testaments.

I am thankful for all the mentors that God has placed in my life, I am thankful that I have people in my life that have been able to speak freely and honestly into my growth as a Christian leader, a husband, a father and a friend.


Obedience & Faith

As I read into the life of Joshua, I begin to understand the significance of the example of obedience he had in listening to and acting upon the will of the Lord. I begin to think about the incredible amount of faith that Joshua had as a leader in following the Lords instructions. Joshua’s obedience in faithfully following the Lord was an example that encouraged, instilled confidence and built loyalty in the people as they journeyed together. Chapter 1:16-18 gives us a glimpse of the trust that the people had not only in Joshua but also in the Lord to lead them to the land He promised to them.

Obedience, faith, and dependence on God I believe are what made Joshua one of Israel’s strongest leaders. I tend to want to paint a perfect picture of Joshua as a leader but as I continue to read I am reminded that even the best can fall. When Joshua fell short of full dependence on the Lord the picture I paint starts to become dark and clouded, it becomes hard look beyond the failure.

Today through the sacrifice of his son for our sins, God has provided each of us a choice to accept his love and a way to come before him to be forgiven. When we respond to His amazing gift of love and grace it allows us to bring before Him every one of our shortfalls. When we fail to be obedient to His word, as we confess our tendencies of dependence in others or ourselves He can use us just as he used Joshua. We all can be leaders that inspire and encourage when we live out a faith that fully depends on God.


Deception, Honor & Integrity

Joshua chapter 9

What do we do in the face of decision as leaders? I have to think back to decisions I have made as a leader and examine them in the light of this passage. Did I rely on my own understanding or the physical evidence that pointed to what I thought would give me a solid foundation for a good decision?

One of the things that I focused on after reading this passage was the fact that Joshua and the other leaders had fallen into the ruse of the Gibeonite travellers. I stayed in this place trying to dig deeper into an understanding of why they were blind to the deception before them. After some time of reflection I began to question my own process of decision, I now understand more that it is because my sinful nature that I often do rely on my own strength or the strengths of others on my team to make decisions. This passage is a great reminder that we need to bring everything before God as we lead in the decisions in all areas of life.

As leaders I believe that we need to also focus on how Joshua and the other leaders responded to the cries of the whole assembly to destroy them. They stayed true to their word, even though it would have been easy for them to destroy the Gibeonite people. They had made an oath before the Lord that they would not destroy them. Joshua and the other leaders were men of honor and integrity, holding true to their oath was a powerful example of true leadership to the people of Israel.

This reminds me of a leadership principle from John MacArthur in his book Called to Lead. He gives us this principle… “A leader empowers by example”, When we seek God’s guidance in this area He is able to reveal through us His perfect example allowing us to be better leaders.

Be Strong and Couragoeus.

Joshua 1:6-9

“6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Be Strong and courageous. Three times in the first 10 verses of chapter 1 in the book of Joshua God repeats these words to his servant. I remember back to some of those painstakingly long high school english classes that eventually taught me that if you want to get a point across in a presentation you must repeat your main point of action at least twice or even three times to help people “get it”.

Joshua 1:6-9 is an incredible encouragement and reminder of knowing that God is walking beside me in my journey. I see this piece of scripture laying down a solid foundation for a life in leadership. As a leader and follower of Christ I have to be spending time in His word, “…meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything it” (v.8), this was his command to Joshua and I believe this is true for all of us today as well. Today for me working in a new environment where spending time in the word and praying is encouraged and if I can say required has allowed me to begin building on that solid foundation. It has not been easy and I have to be honest it has not been day and night everyday, but God has created in me a fresh desire to want more. There may be times ahead of me where I will be discouraged maybe even terrified as Joshua may have been but by faith I know that God is with me wherever I go.