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Who would lead them? How could anyone lead them like Moses had led them he had delivered them from Egypt and the mighty hand of the Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, brought them manna and quail, brought forth water from the rock in the desert, met God on Mount Sinai, given them Gods Law, punished them for their unfaithfulness and yet defended them before God? Where could they find a leader who could lead them where they had never been before? Was there anyone who could step out of Moses shadow and lead them where even Moses couldnt go? Surely it couldnt be Joshua, son of Nun, Moses aide!
Joshuas life is a model of faithful leadership. But maybe the most important moment of his leadership began the moment Moses died. In that moment, God, Joshua, and the people of Israel demonstrate very powerfully how a new leader can step out from the shadow of a giant leader of the past and lead Gods people into the future. Notice the dynamics that are revealed in Scripture.
|Joshua, son of Nun, Moses aide.|
Joshua knew he could lead Gods people. It wasnt because of his skill, but because of the Lords promised presence and power. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. ... No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:3, 5) While Moses was Gods leader, it was actually God who delivered them from Egypt and the mighty hand of the Pharaoh, parted the Red Sea, brought them manna and quail, brought forth water from the rock in the desert, thundered from Mount Sinai, had given them the Law, punished them for their unfaithfulness, and defended them from their enemies! If the LORD, the God of Moses, went with Joshua, then Joshua knew he could lead these people. It wasnt a statement of his skill, but a matter of his trust in God. The second essential quality needed to step out of the shadow of a giant leader is humble trust in promised presence of God and his power. Joshua could be strong and courageous because he knew God would go with him.
Interestingly, Joshua displays the third attribute needed to step out of the shadow of a giant leader with great subtlety. Throughout Moses leadership, the land of Canaan had been referred to as the land flowing with milk and honey. The focus was on the bounty and beauty of the land. While this wasnt the only way the Promised Land was referred to, Joshua begins his leadership by calling this the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own. (Joshua 1:11) Throughout Joshuas leadership, the prominent reminder given the people was that this land was already theirs because God had promised it. The issue was one of their obedience in possessing it. In other words, Joshua didnt bait the people with the lure of bounty and beauty, but he challenged them to step forward in faith believing that what God promised is true. The third essential quality for a new leader to step out of the shadow of a great leader in the past is to challenge Gods people to believe and obey God and answer Gods challenges. While the lure of a quick pay off or a great reward may be helpful in the short run, the difficulties of Satans challenges and trials of everyday life have a way of tarnishing the simplistic lure of shallow success. Gods blessings often come hidden in the difficulties of obedient trust.
As soon as Joshua was called and reassured by the Lord of his leadership, he stepped forward and led. While he was careful to honor the memory of Moses, when he assumed leadership, he led (Joshua 1:10-15). He didnt wait till the dust settled. He didnt wait for a strategic moment to step forward. He stepped forward and began to lead. He called the people and the leaders together and told them what to do. He reassured them of Gods promise. He reminded them of their commitments to unity, to each other, to Moses, and to God. But most importantly, he led with conviction without wavering. The fourth essential of a leader stepping out of the shadows is his willingness to step forward and lead with clear direction and confidence. There is no self-doubt that allows Joshua to resent the peoples loyalty to Moses. There is no fear of the past great leaders accomplishments or legacy. He leads with confidence and continuity, recognizing the greatness of Moses accomplishments but not intimidated by his legacy.
|Be strong and courageous.|
The hand-off of leadership from one great leader to another is difficult and frightening. While the great leader of the past is proven, the new great leader is neither great nor leader until he has led. Only time and God can confirm that greatness and that leadership. But God, Joshua, and the people of God remind us that a new great leader can step out of the shadows of great leader if...
Before Joshua is through, he will step of the shadows of Moses leadership no longer be known as Joshua, son of Nun, Moses aide. While he would never replace Moses as the greatest of Israels early leaders, his own unique and courageous leadership did what Moses could not: Joshua led Gods people into the Promised Land. When Joshua is laid to rest, he is known as Joshua, son of Nun, the servant of the Lord! (Joshua 24:29)
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