Sir Godfrey Gregg D. Div, OHPM, ROMC
The Duty of Leaders:
First, leaders must “be strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:6,7,9). Crossing the Jordan, engaging the enemies of the Lord, and driving them out so that the promises of God might be enjoyed wouldn’t be a picnic. It would be hard work. All the people would have to take their place and do their jobs. They would have to be strong in the vision of the Lord, in each of their duties toward the realization of that vision, and in the spiritual and emotional strength their work would require. Further, the Canaanites would put up a fight; therefore, the people would need to be courageous, unflinching, and undeterred. Any weakness anywhere would be exploited to the detriment and destruction of the whole project.
For the people to be strong and courageous in all these ways, their leaders would have to be so as well, beginning with Joshua. The first prerequisite of leadership is to make oneself an example of what the people are called to be and do. Effective leaders are highly visible as embodying the mission and mandate of the people they are called to lead. Therefore the leader needs to make sure that, whatever he expects of anyone in his charge, at any level or in any niche of their common project, he embodies the strength and courage they will need to perform their duties as unto the Lord.
Second, all that God intended His people to realize in the way of prosperity and peace was bound up in the promises made to the patriarchs and the Law given to Moses. Therefore, Joshua had to make certain that he fully understood and submitted to the promises and Law of God as the driving force of his life (Joshua 1:7,8). Day and night Joshua was to meditate in Moses’ book of the Law, which would have included everything from Genesis to Deuteronomy. Joshua had to be a student of God’s Word so that he could guide the people, equip and enable them, and help them understand the purposes of God for every area of their lives.
Simply put, effective leaders need to be diligent students of God’s Word. No enterprise or endeavour that expects the blessing of God can ignore His promises and Law, or any of the revelation He has provided in His Word. Leaders may try to push this duty off on others, while they devote themselves to the more practical demands of leading. Or they may simply ignore it, believing that the mission and vision of their project already sufficiently encompass and explain all the people need to know. Either of these would be a mistake.
God clearly tells the leader of His people that he must devote himself to the Word of God, reading, meditating, teaching, and obeying everything he finds there. Only then will God bless His people to the fullest extent.
Finally, Joshua was required to be resolute and undeterred, drawing on the presence of the Lord at all times (Joshua 1:9). Whenever Joshua failed to consult the Lord — as in the fiasco at Ai and the treachery of the Gibeonites — Israel’s progress was compromised. Leaders must be men of prayer, who pay careful attention to everything that’s going on in their endeavour (Ephesians 5:15-17) and strive to ensure that every aspect of their own lives, as well as their undertaking, is offered up to the Lord for His approval (Proverbs 4:5-6).
Leaders must be men of vision and prayer. Their plans and activities must be prepared and executed in the presence of the Lord. Any leader of a Christian enterprise who is not developing the discipline of praying about everything and praying with ceasing is setting his project up for derailment, disappointment, or worse.
Joshua is the model leader for those who accept this calling in the household of faith. Let us learn from him the implications and prerequisites of this calling, so that we may be faithful and blessed in leading the people of God to take full possession of all that He has promised them.