This week in our assemblies and shepherd groups we are considering the topic of leadership as we continue through the series, “Faith Wrestlers.” Sunday morning we will mention several things that matter to leaders, and use the life of Moses to illustrate these principles. Sunday evening we will look at some similar examples in the life of Joshua, the man who replaced Moses as leader of God’s people.
While there are many aspects in both their lives that are similar, in this article I want to look at two things they held in common, and they come at the beginning and end of each of their leadership ministries.
Both Moses and Joshua received a call to leadership in a very special way.
We’re more familiar with Moses’ story, found in the first several chapters of Exodus. The highlight of course is the encounter with God at the burning bush. Though he had thought 40 years earlier that God had called him to lead God’s people out of Egyptian bondage (Acts 7:23-25), that wasn’t the time. Perhaps the people weren’t ready; certainly Moses wasn’t ready. And then when he thought that was long gone, God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh and tell him, “Let my people go.”
Joshua’s call to leadership is seen especially in Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1. It’s interesting that God, Moses, and the people of Israel all tell Joshua the same thing: “Be strong and courageous.” To be a servant leader requires great strength and courage. Just ask Jesus. The world views strength much differently than Jesus did. The world views strength as overpowering people. Jesus—and Moses and Joshua—viewed strength as empowering people. There is a huge difference. Which model of leadership do you follow—overpowering or empowering?
What Moses and Joshua also share is perspective, especially seen at the end of their lives.
The book of Deuteronomy is Moses, nearing the end of his life, sharing with God’s people what really matters. From reciting again the laws of God, to pouring out his heart in stressing the importance of passing along the faith to our children and grandchildren, what you hear is the heart of one of the great leaders of all time. It is a heart that yearns for God, but it is also a heart that just as strongly yearns for others to be just as close to God.
With Joshua, there is that moment and that call for which he is best known. At the end of his ministry, he too shares from the heart, and he also demonstrates his own personal love for God as well as a desire just as strong that the people he will no longer lead carry on with that same love and devotion. In Joshua 24 he has a (shorter) summary of their history, and calls on them to “fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.” And he challenges them with his own personal example in this great call, telling them, “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Servant leadership is spiritual leadership. And spiritual leadership begins in the home, with our family. But spiritual leadership actually begins even before then. It begins with self. That’s what Moses and Joshua demonstrated.
How about you? Do you have the strength and courage to be a servant leader and empower rather than overpower people? Will you commit today that you, and all you have influence over, will serve the Lord?