LEADERS ARE BORN NOT MADE
BY: Archbishop Sir Dr. Godfrey Gregg
Leaders come to the forefront during a time of crisis. Because we usually first notice a leader when they are already in a leadership position, we wrongly assume that some people are just “born leaders.” That’s just not true. While some are obviously more gifted than others, Leaders are made, not born. In reality, the opposite is the case. This world is filled with many who were very innately gifted, yet never applied themselves or lived up to their potential. They peaked in high school or college. Leadership is a process that quite often takes several steps of preparation.
Leaders are made, not born. It’s a process with several steps of preparation. When it comes to leaders in God’s army, our Commander in Chief, King Jesus, does not choose leaders – He makes them.
This morning I want to look at Joshua the under leader to Moses. Joshua is an exciting adventure story, better than that, its real history. It’s an important part of God’s inspired Word that has great meaning for us today. In the book of Joshua there are much bigger issues involved than the invasion and possession of a land. Throughout this book we’ll deal with issues that still touch our lives and faith today. We’ll discover that the book of Joshua is a book of new beginnings for the people of God. Many of us today are weary and sense that spiritual need for a new beginning.
After forty years of wandering the wilderness, Israel claimed their inheritance and entered the Promised Land. They finally enjoyed the blessings that God had prepared for them. God wants you and me to experience that same kind of life today. Jesus Christ, our Joshua, wants to lead us into victorious spiritual conquest in the here and now and wants to share with us all of the spiritual treasures of His wonderful inheritance. Paul writes in Ephesians that God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Too often though we live as if we are blasted rather than blessed; victims rather than victors; defeated soldiers instead of delivered saints. Note here I am speaking of the believers in the church, and not some person a group of people called saints which some people pray to for deliverance.
The book of Joshua is brimming over with heroes. One though stands out. He was just one of the only two adults out of the whole nation of Israel which left Egypt who we know made it all the way from Egypt to Canaan. The rest died because of their doubt and rebellion in the desert. It is very obvious in the Spiritual Baptist Faith unless the members are part of the plan or decision it is not of God. I have news for you that God is bigger than your brains and needs no help. He’s the main character of this book that bears his name, the man, Joshua. He was one of the very few that was willing to believe God against all the odds. If I had listened to others when the Mystical Order was born, I would have already been history. I believe in big things and this website is one of them.
Today we hear a lot about self-made men, those who loudly proclaim, “I did it my way.” “This is my church and i run things my way.” Joshua though was a God-made man. To be brutally blunt God has no use for self-made men but He is looking for those who are willing to place themselves in His hands and be God-made men and women. But those who are self-made are losers rather than leaders in Heaven’s army.
Prior to this book, Joshua is alluded to twenty-seven times from Exodus through Deuteronomy. From Scripture we know that there were three distinct periods of his life: some forty years as a slave in Egypt, forty years in the wilderness as Moses assistant and the last twenty-five years conquering and subduing the Promised Land. It’s this second phase of his life that we want to focus on today. This is important. Please note that Joshua spent eighty years in preparation before he became God’s chosen leader. Compared to Joshua, most of us are just half cooked when it comes to leadership. We need to spend more time in the oven until we are roasted or baked properly. It is not how many times you “mourn” or take a “throne of grace”? Joshua spent forty years in Moses’ shadow. That’s because in God’s leadership school, Leaders are made, not born. Hallelujah
We typically desire position but don’t want to pay the price of preparation. In God’s school the preparation is more important than the position. And you will never be in the position without the preparation. Some people will go to great lengths to destroy the very existence to get what they want and simple do not know how to hold a gun. The only thing they remember is how it was done by another leader. Never willing to learn, but to be called something without the understanding.
This morning we’re examining this middle period of preparation under Moses because it provides us with a detailed study of: How God prepares His people for spiritual leadership. It’s during this time period that we learn the most about Joshua’s preparation for godly leadership. It’s here that we learn that there were at least Several Lessons which shaped Joshua’s spiritual leadership. Someone has suggested that it’s as if the Holy Spirit assembled a basic workshop on leadership which can be traced simply by looking up Joshua’s name as it appears in the Pentateuch. (in other words the history or the first five books) What lessons does Joshua teach us about God’s preparation plan for leadership?
Godly Leaders are all prepared from the same raw material. From the time line of his life, we have to conclude that Joshua was born as a slave in Egypt. Joshua was a natural. That’s the problem, we’re all “naturals,” we’re all naturally sinners. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all people of humble origins. While some go to great lengths to hide their past, with a holy God we all have the same past. We were all born into slavery and are slaves to sin. Isaiah 51:1 reminds us, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn…”
Joshua was taken from the pit of the slavery. As a youngster, no doubt he watched his parents, weary and exhausted from toilsome labor serving under the hard taskmasters of Egypt. His early memories were not pleasant ones. Like any Hebrew young man at that time under Pharaoh’s devilish reign, his life was not worth much. It appears from his later life that he must have received military training. His life though could have easily have ended in Egypt. But in God’s providence he survived.
He particularly remembered one special night when his life was miraculously preserved. Joshua was the firstborn son of Nun. As the firstborn son, his life was in danger the night of the Passover but he was protected by the blood of the lamb (Exodus 11-12). Today the blood of Jes us Christ still covers and protect us. When you are under the blood then the devil can’t do us any harm. How the hymn writer puts it When I see the blood I will pass over you.
God had sent a series of plagues upon Egypt, to urge Pharaoh to let His people go. The tenth plague involved the death of every firstborn in Egypt, including the animals, the Egyptians and the Children of Israel. But God had also provided a way of escape. A Passover lamb was to be sacrificed, its blood sprinkled on the doorposts of their homes. And God promised them, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Ex. 12:13). As the firstborn son, neither he, nor any other firstborn Israelite would ever forget that night or the next morning. The mournful wailing of Egyptian parents filled the air as they discovered that every eldest son had been slain. But how wonderful to be spared, and to walk out as a free man from the slavery of Egypt.
The New Testament teaches that at salvation we become a new creation. Revelation indicates that we get a new name. Joshua got a new name. His parents had named him Hoshea which simply means salvation. Moses renamed him Joshua which means God is salvation. The Greek form of “Joshua” is “Jesus.” We need more than salvation in a generic (not original) sense. Many folk talk about salvation in a generic sense. Some are trusting in their goodness, their church, their morality but the only thing which can free us from slavery to sin is the blood of the Lamb. All godly leaders start out as slaves, rescued by God from the slave market of sin. Unfortunately some have gone back to their original state. Yes, without a hope to please the Lord.
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by learning what their true power source is. Exodus 17:8-14. This is the first official recorded act of Joshua. As Joshua led Israel’s army, they defeated the Amalekites. This is early on after the Exodus. The Amalekites attacked Israel about two months after they had left Egypt. Verse 14 suggests that God already had greater plans for Joshua.
It’s here that Joshua appears in what will be his characteristic role, the general of the Lord’s armies. But in this first battle he learns a fundamental lesson; the battle belongs to the Lord.
Restraining prayer, we cease to fight,
Prayer keeps the Christian’s armor bright,
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they failed,
That moment Amalek prevailed.
In this first battle Joshua learned a critical lesson; prayer is mightier than the sword. It was not Joshua’s sword, but God’s power that won the battle. As long as Moses hands were up Israel prevailed in battle. When his hands got weary Moses was seated and his armor bearers held his hands in place. O what a revelation for us today. Someone has to be in prayer at all times. Here we see it is not the leader that leads the battle to war but his assistant. (Read The responsibilities of the Shepherd) If we will just stay in our lane miracles will happen.
Moses sent Joshua out to fight while he, now in his eighties, climbed to the top of a hill with God’s staff (Pastoral staff) in his hand, the same rod God had used to divide the Red Sea, and the same rod that God used in miracle after miracle. As the rod was raised in intercessory prayer, Israel prevailed; as it sank, the Amalekites prevailed. When sunset came, Israel had carried the day.
It wasn’t some sort of magic. God was teaching His people and particularly His general an unforgettable lesson. While we have to fight, exert effort and use the abilities God has given us, it is only God working through us that brings the victory. The power is God’s, not ours. This is a lesson we learnt early in the days of this Spiritual Baptist Faith. It is a far cry today with the behaviour and yet we expect God to deliver us. When we depend on talent, brains or ability, we’re going to fail. And no one is truly a spiritual leader who thinks that the power is his own or victories are a result of his/her genius. The overriding lesson at Rephidim was that the backbone of any work done for God is prayer. Leaders must learn to depend on God’s power, not their own.
The power of the Church is not the pulpit or rituals. It is not even in the magic at the center pole or the statures placed in the church. It’s the prayer of the saints (believers) holding God’s work before His throne. Invisible prayer brings about visible results. Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by learning what their true power source is.
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by first learning to serve. Exodus 24:13 records this insight for us, “Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide” Joshua was literally Moses’ (armor bearer) “minister.” This is a principle continually reiterated in Scripture – before someone can lead they must first learn to serve. No one should be in a position of leadership if they have not first been a faithful servant. That’s the lesson of the upper room when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28).
1) By serving Joshua was also mentored by Moses. This is a wonderful practice which is coming back today; this act of mentoring. Joshua became a great leader because he walked in Moses’ shadow. He was there with Moses in times of victory and testing, and learned to lead from Moses.
Are you being mentored? Most of us would do well to get some spiritual heroes who could mentor us and help us move to higher ground. I don’t think that you ever get to the place where you can no longer be mentored. Often those who need mentoring the most are those who don’t feel that they need it. Then, are you mentoring someone? Are you investing your life in the next generation of believers? What I have discovered as a minister is all want to be ministers, and no one wants to learn. No one wants to attend workshops but want to direct the Leaders where to go. In ministry there is no place for error, because God is too wise to make a mistake. It takes character and humility to be mentored. Joshua had the wisdom and humility to be second man and to be mentored.
2) Joshua had a sensitive spirit. There’s another scene which demonstrates his servant’s spirit, Ex. 32:17-19. Now Joshua drew the wrong conclusion but I think that his military ears were attuned to the people being attacked or being in trouble. A servant must be sensitive to the needs of those under him. That was Joshua. He was concerned about the people. A leader must learn to be a sensitive servant.
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by spending time with God. The episode from Joshua’s life is in Exodus 33:7-11. Moses was unique; God spoke to him face to face, as one speaks to his friend. Though he was not so privileged, Joshua was so overcome by God’s presence that he would not leave the Tabernacle. There’s passion in this picture. “Lord, you are so wonderful. I cannot leave this room. I beg you, let me stay.”
True spiritual leadership demands a love for the closet, for time alone with God. The heroes of the church spent much time in prayer seeking the direction of God and the way forward. You know who praying servants are when they are on their knees. As Spiritual Baptists we know that too well and we live up to the name of “prayer warriors”. As we study this book, we’ll observe that Joshua was aware and confident of God’s constant presence. That awareness of the continued presence of God comes from spending time at Jesus’ feet. We are aware of this situation when we go to the lower ground of sorrow. Our spiritual parents watch over us until we complete the journey.
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by learning to identify real problems. As we travel this Christian pathway, we cannot help but notice the behaviour of others even within the church we lead. People hate to see others climb to the top and they take comfort always pulling other believers down.
While we need to have godly discernment, some seem to think that their gift is the gift of criticism or gossip. They continually critique other believers trying to make themselves more spiritual than others. It is time to show me your life with your works. The more you criticized the more you show your fuel for envy.
Joshua nearly made the same mistake, Numbers 11:24-30. It is so easy to misplace our zeal. Joshua had to learn that spiritual leadership and self-promotion are incompatible. Moses knew this. He was the humblest man on the face of the earth (Num. 12:3) and he refused to let Joshua glorify him.
For Joshua, this was probably a watershed experience. Had he not been checked here, his critical jealousy for Moses’ honor could have easily made him into a narrow, petty man. Critical people are usually small people. They can only “enlarge” themselves by putting others down. At the root is pride.
We need to learn to rejoice wherever God is working. God is not limited to our ministry or our particular flavor of ritualistic involvement. I’m not talking about casting aside truth but I am talking about getting a vision of God and His work that is bigger than us and our particular church. Many people stop moving and they will try to hinfder the growth of the church and bring it to a halt. It will not happen under the watch of a true Leader. It is time to let them go and use that time to teach and nurture others that are willing to learn.
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by learning to face the heat. Outside of the book of Joshua, we are most familiar with Joshua because of his famous faithful duet with Caleb, “we can do it, and we can do it!!” Moses had sent twelve men to spy out the land. Ten came back and said “it’s impossible. There are giants in the land.” They believed their senses rather than the promises of God. The people were convinced by them and as a result, the nation was punished by wandering in the wilderness for forty years until they had all died. Mistakes by our leaders will lead to death and so we have seen many churches died before getting the foundation laid. But God commends Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 32:12 “not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly.” They followed the LORD wholeheartedly…even when no one else did.
This crisis revealed the stuff Joshua was made of and why he was fit to be the next leader. The ten spies saw the difficulties; Joshua and Caleb saw God and then the difficulties. Their God was big enough for the battles down the road. When the Mystical Order came on stream we were told it is another and will soon vanish. I did not feed into that weakness. I saw God as my Leader. Today in our third year we are still standing with great accomplishments.
They also stood up against the majority and it nearly cost them their lives. It has been well said that “one with God equals a majority.” It would take that same type of courage for Joshua to lead the people into the Promised Land forty years later. Spiritual leaders do not necessarily go along with the majority. They’re willing to take the heat to do what is right. God does not give the vision to the church but to His leader who will give the interpretation to the church. What we have today are too, many seers living bad lives and leading the church to destruction. The reputation has faded and envy has invaded the pews and even the pulpit.
Then, Joshua was willing to wait, even though he was waiting because of someone else’ sin. That’s character. Forty years of burying doubters before he was able to enter the land. I have a feeling that he and Caleb met regularly with each other to encourage each other during those long years of waiting. Yes, they did just as I do with my Patriarch. Constant consultation for the way forward and for that appointed time. Each step we take the Saviour goes before us. A godly leader must see the providence and promises of God rather than the problems. They must also be willing to stand against the majority if that’s what it takes to obey. And often they must wait on God’s time table. That’s the kind of leader Joshua was, one willing to risk his life to do what was right!
Godly Leaders are prepared to lead by having their gifts affirmed. You have to be called to preach and someone must be called to listen. I have discovered that there are all preachers and none to listen. There is always a rebuttal especially in the Spiritual Baptist churches. Each minister is the authority and in most cases without any knowledge of the scripture. It is time for us to get our acts together and be the leader that God wants. In Numbers 27:18-23, Moses affirms Joshua’s call to leadership. It is not enough to think that you are leader; someone must also be called to follow. Your leadership must be affirmed. That’s one of the responsibilities today of the local church, to affirm godly leaders.
Deuteronomy also has an account of this affirmation and ordination to leadership by Moses. Three times Moses exhorts him, “Be strong and courageous” (Deut. 31:6, 7, and 23). It takes strength of character and courage to be a leader. It takes more that jumping and speaking in tongues. They need to have that encouraged and affirmed.
When last have you told your brother or sister you appreciate them for the word? Did you take the time to thank your minister for the word? Last Saturday I heard my Bishop Andres at the launching of the church website thank the Patriarch for a word. The understanding made him, (the Bishop) shake. That is the affirmation I am talking about within the church.
Although Joshua was no Moses, it’s interesting how often their leadership styles and ministries parallel one another. Both were given charges to serve in leadership; both led the nation of Israel from one land into another; both experienced the miracle of the parting of the waters; both gave powerful and moving farewell addresses; and when each died the people of Israel were at a peak of spiritual health, determined to serve the Lord.
After all those years, God now designates Joshua in the presence of all the people as His leader. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Joshua.
That’s the critical quality for all spiritual leadership. Spiritual leadership is a matter of superior spiritual power, and it can never be self-generated. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader.
The New Testament agrees. Acts 6:3,5 “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom…They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”
We must equip ourselves the best that we can but when all is said and done, we must understand and believe that without the Holy Spirit nothing will happen. Spiritual leadership depends on the anointing of the Spirit of God.
As I conclude, only one thing remained in Joshua’s preparation for leadership, the death of Moses, Deut. 34:1-9. Moses was the greatest spiritual leader that Israel ever had, far greater than Joshua. The transition from Moses to Joshua was like going from poetry to prose. But even Moses was dispensable. Joshua learned no one is indispensable. God replaces His workmen, not His work. What a truth for us all, for me, for fellow ministers, for the Body of Christ. God does not need us; He can use donkeys if He wants, and He did at one time. But He does use us. Let us glory in God. Let us glory that He uses us. Let us never glory in ourselves.