“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.” Joshua 1:1-2
Moses is dead. Their leader…the man who met with God for them, convinced Him not to kill them (a bonafide sign of a good leader, by the way), and spoke God’s words to them, was now gone. When a leader goes down, by death or any other means, things can quickly turn chaotic. People get nervous, and plans get put on hold while we figure things out. But not on this day. Moses is dead, and the plan didn’t miss a beat. God handed the reins to Joshua and said, “get ready”.
Disclaimer to the blog post: From this point on, this post is not what I had in mind to write when I sat down at my computer. Believe me, I kept trying to take it in some other direction, any other direction, than the one it went in. But my fingers adamently disobeyed my instructions. I have come to understand that God wanted me to write it, because He wanted me to read it. Hopefully, no leaders were harmed in the
making writing of this post.
So, here we go.
I’ve seen at least two ways the enemy gets at us in the area of leadership and God’s plans.
~ We get overwhelmed, thinking that we will somehow mess up God’s plan. We see our own flaws and weaknesses, and we struggle to believe we have what it takes to carry out what God wants done. Making decisions gets harder and harder, as we let fear lead us into doing nothing. We fear doing it wrong, and we fear what others will think and say about our decisions. Pleasing the majority becomes more important than pleasing the One (although we would never admit to that).
~ Or, we become prideful, thinking we are the only one who can do this thing and do it right. We won’t let anyone give us counsel, because we’re the one in charge. We forget that leadership is actually a servant position. Instead we start developing programs and projects, and eventually stop seeking God for His next step, because we have the next 10 steps already figured out. And because there isn’t anyone who can do the job the way we can, we begin to “manage” people instead of leading them. From there we easily become controlling, and the work becomes far more important than the people.
Moses was not perfect, but God still got His people out of Egypt. We are far too weak and flawed to be responsible for God’s plans coming to pass. And not a single one of us is indispensable. When Moses died, the plan didn’t stop. God simply chose His next leader.
Today, I am compelled to speak to leaders, as one who has been in leadership, and as one who is called to submit to leadership.
God has called you to lead, so lead. Meet with God everyday and then do what He tells you to do. Don’t be afraid to speak what God has told you to speak, regardless of whether you think it might hurt my feelings or offend me. Just speak it and let God deal with my response. Get counsel from godly people, and then make a decision. Even if the decision may turn out to be wrong, trust that God will correct it and His plan will remain intact, but for heaven’s sake…make a decision. Not everyone will like it, but make it anyway. Not everyone will like you. That’s ok. This isn’t a popularity contest. They didn’t all like Moses either, so you’re in good company.
On the other hand, God has called you to lead, but He can just as easily call someone else. Don’t abuse the authority He has given you. We are not your minions, we are God’s people. He didn’t hand you a scepter so you could rule over us, He gave you a staff and rod so you could shepherd us well. He already has a strong right arm, and it’s not you. Meet with God everyday, and then do what He tells you to do. Remember that God has a plan…so He doesn’t need yours. Speak what God tells you to speak, but bear in mind that God isn’t keen on people speaking words on His behalf that didn’t come from Him. Get counsel from godly people and then make a decision. And then be willing to admit it if your decision was wrong, and let God correct it…and you.
Being a leader isn’t easy. Neither is submitting to leadership. I don’t believe your leadership will be effective unless I do my part. That means I must honor the authority God has given to you, even if I don’t like or agree with your leadership style. I need to stop grumbling and complaining about you, and start praying for you. I have a voice and I have giftings, and I can use them to encourage you, and even to tell you when I sense something is off center. But at the end of the day, you are called to lead and I am called to submit myself to your leadership. If I do that well, your calling will be a joy and not a burden.
“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17
The leaders and the led. We can both do what we’re called to do if we trust the One who is leading us both.