April 2013


Vijay Thangiah

In Joshua 1:10-18, we read about the qualities that Joshua had as a successful leader.

1. Willingness To Obey.
Obedience to the LORD is a must (Josh.1:10-11a). Verse 10 starts with "Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people saying."

The first ingredient we can learn from Joshua as a successful leader is his willingness to obey God's direction.

After God finished speaking to Joshua, then Joshua immediately spoke to his commanding officers, proceeding to tell them to pass through the camp and tell the people to prepare provisions.

When God spoke to Joshua, he didn't delay. Joshua didn't ask the people if they thought it was a good idea to do what God said. He didn't even form a committee. Joshua didn't wait for a more convenient season. Joshua didn't offer an array of excuses like his predecessor, Moses, when God first came to him in the burning bush. Joshua didn't say "I'm not qualified," or "I don't have enough talent." He didn't say that he had served the Lord long enough, that he was too busy to serve the Lord. He didn't say that he was too old to be involved in any kind of service for the Lord.

Joshua focussed on what God said would be done rather than what he may have thought should be done. In Joshua 1:6, the Lord told Joshua that the nation would possess the land promised to them. In Joshua 1:11 that is what Joshua told his commanding officers.

2. Willingness To Share Responsibilities.
These words of Joshua to his commanding officers are in the context of what the Lord said to Joshua in the preceding nine verses of the first chapter of Joshua.

Joshua himself doesn't go among people like Jonah went along the streets of Nineveh and do all the shouting out himself. They already had prearranged for people to have responsibilities for lesser numbers and they're the ones who were to pass through the people and tell them what the plan was. So he delegated, he gave them very clear responsibilities. "Go among the people, say these words, have them do these things." He gave them a measurable time frame, even a deadline; "three days, and then we're going in."

Verses 10 and 11 of Joshua 1 begin with Joshua's first command, which verse 10 says that he makes to "the officers of the people." The "officers of the people" were not military leaders for the Israelites - they were spiritual leaders. Consider what Numbers 11:16-17 says, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone'." Numbers 11 and some other passages in the book of Deuteronomy tell us that these officers were men who possessed the Spirit and who had been faithful to assist Moses, who at the time was God's appointed shepherd over His people.

In Joshua 1 we see Joshua approaching these men and giving them his first command to pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, “Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess”.

3. Willingness To Take Tough Stands.
In verses 12 through 15 Joshua lays out a set of instructions for a second group of people, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. These were 2.5 tribes of the 12 tribes of Israel and according to Numbers 32 they were already recipients of God's prescribed inheritance for them. We learn in Numbers 32 that the tribes of Reuben and Gad had a huge amount of livestock - more than any of the other tribes of Israel - and that after conquering some of the kings and nations to the east of the Jordan riur in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan" (Num. 32:5). Moses agrees on the condition that when the time comes they would fight for the brothers even though they were staying on the other side of the Jordan.

The time has now come and Joshua is asking them, "Do you want this done God's way, or are we going to have a problem?" It's going to cost them in manpower and security and in separation from their families and from their occupations. They're going to spend some time doing battle rather than farming and doing animal husbandry type things. How much time? At this point, they don't know. Six months? Six years? Or maybe seven. It will take six or seven years before they can clear out the land and go home. They didn't know that, they didn't know how long. They said, "Whatever it takes, that's what we will do. We will sign on, we are willing to make that sacrifice. We'll do it, because we want this done God's way."

What they're doing, and what I wish God's leaders today would do more of, is planning for the long run. They're planning for long into the future. They're thinking in terms of the needs of their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. They are not primarily concerned with, "What do I get to do now." This is called delayed gratification in current terms and they're willing and they'll do it.

Joshua was preparing for the journey. He knew that if he failed to prepare, he prepared to fail. Thus he knew that obedience to the Lord was a must, readiness spiritually was vital and cooperation of all the people was essential for success.

A successful leader must be a visionary - one who plans into the future, is willing to take tough stands and obey God's direction no matter what it costs.

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GODLY LEADERS - 4 - Vijay Thangiah

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