Big Sandals to Fill

I believe I am finally turning the corner on my cold. I did have a dental appointment and had a good check up! Glad that is over for six months. Since my day was free of other appointments I was able to continue to rest and work on some projects at home. The rest of my week will ramp up some.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance.  Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:2,6,7 HCSB

I am at least an “observer” if not a “student” of leadership. I have found that Leadership transitions are the most challenging experiences for a people or an organization. This is especially true when the leader has served long and is “bigger than life” in the eyes of the people.

Moses had lead God’s people for forty years. He was the deliverer, a prophet, priest and giver of the Law.  The transition from a “Founding” leader can be especially difficult. I have observed churches and other organizations over the years and have always watch with interest what happens when a founding or long-term pastor/leader comes to the end of his tenure. The transitions I have witnesses are more challenging than successful.

Joshua was well-known to the people. He had been Moses aide since the Exodus. He was with Moses on Mount Sinai, he was the general of the army and had won great victories through the Lord’s power. He was one of the spies who first “scouted” the Promised Land.

With all of that experience, Joshua still needed confidence in the “sandals” he was called to fill and the task he was to undertake. I believe that is why we see the repeating of the words, “be strong and courageous.” One who possesses strength and courage is someone who is confident and assured.

We can observe some key events that made the transition successful. First we see that Moses, before the people, anointed Joshua for the task. Scriptures says,  Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him.” (Joshua 34:9 HCSB) Not only was this spiritual enabling important, but Moses anointing Joshua in the eyes of the people, was to give them confidence in Joshua’s leadership.

The confirmation of a new leader takes place through ceremony and through action or events. Joshua’s confirmation came from Moses and the words of the Lord Himself. Joshua was then able to unite the people behind his leadership, [The people] “…answered Joshua, “Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go.  We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything. And may the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses.” (Joshua 1:16,17 HCSB)

We then see the appearance of the first miracle; the crossing of the Jordan River during its flood stage. Moses had the Red Sea, Joshua had the Jordan. We read, On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they revered him throughout his life, as they had revered Moses.” (Joshua 4:14 HCSB)

Then we see the victory over Jericho. The strategy was unusual, but the people followed the Lord’s instructions through Joshua and a great victory was won. There is nothing like a “big win” or accomplishment to provide credibility to a new leader.

Joshua learned his success like that of Moses, came from the Lord. When he obeyed the Lord, the Lord gave him success. As we read of the final days of Joshua and the end of his “leadership tenure,” So Joshua took the entire land, in keeping with all that the Lord had told Moses. Joshua then gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. After this, the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 11:23 HCSB) “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:45 NIV)

Joshua fulfilled all that the Lord had for him to do. He conquered and then divided the land, distributed the inheritance to the various tribes and sent them on their way to finish the task. Often times a leader will have a specific task to accomplish or contribution to make to an organization or ministry. When that is accomplished often his leadership in that place comes to an end.

Finally, God has the right person for the right time to accomplish what needs to be done. Joshua as a military leader was the most suited leader for the “conquest” phase of God’s people entering the Promised Land. He was able to build on and finish the vision the Lord gave to Moses.

When God is directing and fulfilling His purposes during the “journey” of an organization or ministry, we can be confident His purposes will prevail. God uses human leaders;  there may be many, there may be few. Transitions do come in the life of every organization. God’s desire is for those times to be ones where the right leader, arises at the right times, with the right skills for the Lord to continue leading His people forward.