Scripture Reading: Joshua 11:1-23
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 11:23)
Chapter 11 is a record of the final battles that lead to the conquest of the Promised Land. Under Joshua’s capable leadership, the army of Israel defeated the inhabitants of the land, just as God had said. Then the land was divided up among the tribes of Israel and finally there was rest from warfare. Joshua was a great leader because the Lord God was with him and had gifted him with leadership qualities. As we well know, it was ultimately the Lord who gave victory to the Israelites. However, God also uses people to accomplish His purposes.
Joshua had to earn the trust of the people. He followed Moses which was a difficult task. Yet God gifted him and enabled him to lead the Israelites with great success. I admire great leaders. To be honest I don’t see many such leaders today. As I look at the qualities of leadership that Joshua exhibited, several are most notable.
First and foremost, Joshua believed God. He took God at His word and acted upon it. It was Joshua’s dependence upon God that enabled him to face opposition, disappointment, and overwhelming odds against him. God reassured Joshua with these words on several occasions, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9). Joshua trusted God fully and did what God told him to do.
Second, Joshua had a well thought out plan. He kept the end in mind — to conquer the land God has promised to give to the Israelites. He never lost sight of the ultimate goal. He developed short term objectives all along the way, but he never lost sight of the end goal. Leaders must be good planners. They must know how to stay focused on the primary goal and they must know what steps are necessary to get there. They must be sensitive to God’s guidance. Joshua clearly understood what Proverbs teaches, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). A leader must be sensitive to God’s directions and must be willing to adjust his or her plan accordingly.
Third, Joshua encouraged his people. He told them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (10:25). Joshua pointed the people to God and encouraged them with God’s promises. He acknowledged and supported those who had leadership roles under him. He gave them credit for their parts in accomplishing the mission.
Fourth, Joshua did not let his errors defeat him. Joshua was not perfect! When Joshua failed, he acknowledged his failure, took responsibility for it, confessed it and moved on. He took responsibility for his failures and did what he could to correct them. A leader must take responsibility for the failures as well as for the successes God gives him or her.
Our senior staff recently studied Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player. In the book, the author lists three essential traits for a good team player: humble, hungry and smart. Joshua demonstrated humility in his leadership. He humbled himself before God first and he humbled himself before the people he led. He was hungry to achieve what God had promised to give him and the people. He was highly motivated to honor God by doing his best. And Joshua was smart. He knew how to handle people. He relied on God to give him wisdom and direction.
The greatest leader who ever lived is Jesus Christ. His leadership has been described as servant leadership. Though He is a king, He became a servant. This is what is needed today — servant leaders who trust God, who are sensitive to His guidance, who know how to encourage others, and who take responsibility, especially for their failures. We need more leaders who are servants and who are humble, hungry and smart!
Lord Jesus, I pray that I learn how to be a more effective leader. I pray that I will depend upon You, be sensitive to Your leading, and be responsible for my actions. Let me have the mind of Jesus Christ who made Himself a servant (Philippians 2:5-8).
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