Today, as in the days of Joshua, there is a vital need for leaders. Leaders who are courageous, bold, visionary and accept the challenge. Leaders who persevere when people grumble and criticize. Leaders who do not settle or compromise. Leaders who do not become indifferent. We need leaders who not only accept the challenge but are willing to be challenged. Leaders who take their responsibility to heart. We want leaders who inspire us to be more like Christ and help us grow forward. Joshua was that kind of leader. He led the people into the promised land. They followed. He led them on a conquest they had never known before.
By contrast, reckless, cowardly, timid and myopic leaders lead nowhere. The people stagnate, grumble, fight and die. The ten spies were that kind of leader. They led the people but to fear and unbelief. They all died in the wilderness.
It takes courage to be a leader like Joshua. Real courage is an action of the heart. Courage springs from the heart. It rests on truth and proceeds from conviction. It is demonstrated in actions and attitudes. It has to do with the state of mind that is so convinced, it will cause one to stand even in the face of adversity or fear of retribution. Courage stands on firm principles rather than public opinion. Courage is doing what is right for the right reasons, even when the temptation to do wrong is available.
Joshua had the courage to walk in the footsteps of Moses (Joshua 1:1-4). Joshua had been with Moses all the way. He saw what Moses saw. Moses had prepared him to be the leader. Joshua took the mantel from him. God assigned it to Joshua. He did not hesitate. He had been groomed for this moment. Joshua was not jealous of Moses. He did not resent him. Joshua did not have to do it his way. He followed the path Moses blazed for him. Too many want to be individualistic as leaders. Rather, it takes courage to stand on the shoulders of those who have led before us.
Joshua had the courage to lead others to obey God (Joshua 1:7). Leading was not about him. He accepted the responsibility of leading people to God. The Law of God became a part of him. He did not waver. He led the people to be steadfast in the Law. It takes courage to stand up for the word of God. It takes courage to remain firm and steadfast while all around are crying for a change. Like Joshua, we must mediate on God’s word day and night. For leaders to lead people to the word of God, it must be in the heart of the leader (Joshua 1:8).
Joshua had the heart to lead. God told him not to be dismayed. Why did God tell him that? Why did God tell him to be of good courage and promised to be with him? (Joshua 1:9). Could it be because God knew Joshua would become dismayed? Could it be that God knew that Joshua would need courage to lead the children of Israel? One of the greatest challenges a leader faces is discouragement. Discouragement is one of the most effective tools of the devil. If the devil can cause the leader to be discouraged and take his eyes off the Lord, then he can bring defeat the same as if some terrible immoral thing had occurred. Discouragement affects the heart. If Satan can take the heart out of a leader, then those who follow will be impacted too. Lead with courage, not to become discouraged.
Joshua led the people forward (Joshua 1:10-13). There was only one direction to go. They had been wandering for forty years. Now it is time to conquer the land. In order to do that, they had to move forward. Leaders cannot lead while looking back. They are going to possess the land. Leaders must know where they are leading the people. It is important to remember God’s promises while leading. Joshua had said before, “God has given us the land.” Going forward will not be easy. There will be obstacles and challenges. There may the inclination to stop or give up. Courageous leaders lead forward.
Joshua also courageously persevered (Joshua 1:13-15). His perseverance enabled him to lead forward. Sticking to the command and sticking to the task require perseverance. Leaders can be lonely. Of course, Joshua had God and His promise to always be with him that enabled him to persevere. No one leads courageously without God. God enables the leader to continue when the people begin to grumble. It is so easy to give up. Leaders do not have the luxury of complaining or griping. They lead, persevering, to take the people on the journey that leads them to God.
Joshua had the courage to inspire (Joshua 1:17-18). “You tell us what to do. You can count on us. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!” I love that. Those who followed Joshua were ready to fight to the death for him. They were not going to allow anyone to cut him or bring him down. Wow! A leader with that kind of commitment from those he leads can easily lead with courage.
Joshua had the courage to accept the challenge of the people. “Lead us,” they said. Notice, the people challenged Joshua. People want a leader. Joshua shows us, not only should we thank God for our leaders, but we should challenge our leaders to be bold. We need to commend and challenge our leaders to lead in all that is right before God. Challenge them to love God more deeply. Challenge them to lead beyond a settled, comfortable spiritual staleness. Challenge them to lead with maturity. Challenge them to be men who will dig into the depths of the Scriptures and teach us. Challenge them to be strong and courageous. Please, leaders, do not let grumblers, gripers, and complainers deter you! We need to say to our leaders, “You be strong and courageous leaders and we will follow wherever God directs us.” People want a leader who is courageous enough to accept their challenge.
Leadership requires at least two. One to lead and one to follow. A courageous leader follows the example of other leaders. He leads people to obey God. He has the word of God in his heart. He is not easily discouraged. He leads forward with perseverance. He inspires others and is willing to be challenged as he leads.
Sandhill cranes are great big birds that can literally fly across continents. Do you know why they can do that? They fly in formation and they do two things that are interesting. One is, they only pick leaders who can handle turbulence. Second, they constantly honk encouragement to whichever crane is in front. We need some more honking going on.
It is so important for us tell our leaders “Thank You.” They need to know how much we appreciate them. But when was the last time you said, “Be strong and courageous in the ways of the Lord, and don’t ever be afraid to lead us and we will follow.”
by Rickie Jenkins