Joshua had quite an act to follow. Moses, the man of God, was dead. It was now Joshua's responsibility to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Many battles awaited them. Many lessons in leadership awaited Joshua. Learn from the successes and failures of God's chosen leader, Joshua. Keep Reading...
Leadership Lesson #1 - Courage is commanded.
Joshua 1:6-9 - Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
God speaks to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous….” three times. This is a step of obedience, not a feeling of bravery, not a macho display or a reckless dare. What is the foundation for this step of courage? God’s presence and the Book of the Law.
Leadership Lesson #2 - Call for unity. Always fight together.
Joshua 1:14 - 15 - You are to help your brothers until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.
Joshua reminds the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh to help their brothers win their battles across the Jordan before settling their own land. This is a key lesson in leadership. Without unity there will be no victory. Spend the time necessary as a leader to gain unity in your team.
Unity comes through spending time together in:
Leadership Lesson #3 - Do not elevate yourself. Let God raise you up.
Joshua 4:14 - That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.
The leader that elevates himself will soon fall. Only the leader that God raises up will remain. Do not get caught up in title seeking or self-promotion. This will only delay your effectiveness as a leader. 1 Peter 5:6 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Leadership Lesson #4 - Real authority in leadership only comes in submission to God.
Joshua 5:13-15 - Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
The question should not be, "Is God for or against me?" The question should be, "Am I on God's side?"
God was confirming to Joshua who was in the lead for the way forward. It was most important for Joshua to understand that God is allied with himself and his purposes. The taking of the Promised Land was God's battle. Joshua had a choice to fall behind his leader.
The lesson here reminds leaders that real authority only comes in complete submission to God. The leader does not have to make up a battle plan and accomplish victory. He only needs to follow well.
Leadership Lesson #5 - Purity comes before victory.
Joshua 7:10-12 - The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction.
A good leader will have the purity of his team on his heart and mind continually. He will lead the team in prayer often, asking the Holy Spirit to check their hearts. A good leader will ask specific questions of holiness during one-on-one discipleship times. Hidden sin will always lead to defeat. Pray and work for the exposure of sin.
Leadership Lesson #6 - Assumption leads to disaster.
Joshua 7:3-4 - When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there.” So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai.
Joshua 8:1 - Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
Notice how after the resounding victory at Jericho, Joshua and the people assumed that they would only need part of the army to defeat the small city of Ai. Purity in the camp was assumed. The battle strategy was also assumed. And in both accounts, Israel failed. Once the sin in the camp was dealt with, God instructed Joshua to take the whole army to defeat Ai.
It is important that we never assume to know the battle plan. We might want to rely on previous experiences of victory. But, that was then. This is now. Always seek the current battle strategy from God.
Joshua had to learn this lesson more than once. A nearby people called the Gibeonites tried to trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a treaty with them.
Joshua 9:14-15 - The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
Here again, Joshua assumed that his experience in leadership would be sufficient. But, he was sorely mistaken. The oath he made with the Gibeonites ensured the survival of more idolatry in the land.
For an interactive, modern-day story on the Gibeonite Deception, read here: The Gibonian Deception
Leadership Lesson #7 - Let the Word of God be your foundation and authority for leadership.
Joshua 8:30-35 - Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses–an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he had written. All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing those who carried it–the priests, who were Levites. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel. Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law–the blessings and the curses–just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.
Notice Joshua 8:35 - There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them. Deuteronomy 11:29
A good leader will use God's Word often in his leadership. This will cause the team members to focus their submission on God, not the leader.
Notice how the men, women, children and aliens were all treated the same at the reading of the law. They ALL received the law, the Word of the Lord. The Word of the Lord brings equality to all, as all bow in submission to him.
Leadership Lesson #8 - Continually remind people of God's faithfulness and lead them in worship (i.e. throw away gods).
Joshua 24:14 - “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:19-21 - Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”
At the end of Joshua's life, he reminded the Israelites of God's faithfulness in detail. He reviewed their history, and how God never failed them. Joshua drew the line in the sand for the Israelites. He called them to worship God alone.
A good leader will ask his team to choose for God… not just one time, but regularly.
Note: In the article above, I have used the words, "he" and "him" in reference to leaders. This is only for ease of writing. To be sure, men AND women can be called by God as leaders. These lessons in leadership from Joshua apply to both men and women leaders.
Missionary. Teacher. Worship Leader. Deeply desiring to make God's Word accessible and understandable to all. May you be transformed as God's Word fills your life.