Deuteronomy 31:7-8 says, And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Moses had finished his instructions to the people then gave instructions to their new leader Joshua. God did not make these comments in private; He instructed Joshua in the presence of all the people so all of Israel would know what God wanted from His leader. The Bible gives clear instructions not private interpretations to those who lead. Some claim divine revelation from God as a way of manipulating people, but we should beware of any “Christian” leader who claims to have a private revelation from God. Let us examine the instructions that God gave to Joshua.
I. Be strong and of a good courage. This is the same command that God had given the people. God had commanded them to be strong and to have good courage. In the same way that their courage came from the goodness and faithfulness of God, Joshua would need his courage to be based upon God’s goodness. When God commanded Joshua to be strong and of good courage He did so for two reasons:
- Joshua would go with the people. God expected the leader of his people to do what the people were supposed to do. Joshua was supposed to lead the people into the Promised Land not just send them. A leader is not different than the people he leads. He needs time with God in Bible study and prayer just as his people do. He needs preaching just as they need preaching. He needs counsel just as they need counsel. It is a mistake when a leader separates himself from the people as though he is not required to carry out the same responsibilities. A soulwinning people should be led by a soulwinning pastor, and compassionate people should be led by a compassionate pastor.
- Joshua would be responsible for their inheriting the land. Joshua would enter the Promised Land with the people, and God would use his leadership to cause them to inherit the land. God places a heavy responsibility upon those who lead His people because the success and victory of the people will fall upon the leader’s shoulders. Joshua would lead them to inherit the land, but God would deliver the land to them. God’s leaders must take their positions seriously. Churches fail because pastors fail. Ministries fail because ministry leaders fail. Sunday school classes fail because Sunday school teachers fail. A leadership role is not one that should be taken lightly.
II. It is all about God. Several instructions were given to Joshua based upon what God would do for him and the people who followed him. We have seen what Joshua was to do; now we see what God said that He would do. All works for God are led by men who do what they are supposed to do and look to God to do what God promised He would do.
- God would go before him. No man should expect people to follow him unless he is following God. Joshua had a track record of being faithful to follow God. He was one of only two spies out of twelve who encouraged the people to enter the Promised Land some forty years earlier.
- God would be with him. A Christian leader is not a soloist. Everything he does for God is with God. God will accompany him if he is willing to faithfully do what God has told him to do. If God has called a man to lead, then God will be with that man in his role as leader.
- God would not fail him. When a ministry fails, it is not because of God. God does not fail. Failure comes because we have not depended upon God. God never fails the leader who puts his trust in Him.
- God would not forsake him. Sometimes we forsake doing what God tells us to do, but God never forsakes us when we are doing His work. God is always with us. When the battle becomes difficult, the leader must remember that God has not forsaken him. When people turn against him, he must remember that God has not forsaken him. Some men feel sorry for themselves because they allow what people have done to shake their faith in the faithfulness of God.
III. Moses gave final instructions to Joshua. Moses’ first instruction was for Joshua and the people: fear not. The second was given only to Joshua the leader, neither be dismayed. Leadership is not easy. Even the most courageous leader sometimes becomes discouraged or depressed, which is not acceptable to God. We are not to allow ourselves the luxury of being depressed. A leader must stay strong in the Lord and in His Spirit. Every leader will face times when the enemy, as well as his own people, will make it difficult for him, and at those times he must guard his spirit and not allow himself to become depressed or dismayed. The spirit of a leader must remain strong.
Joshua was a great leader. Part of Joshua’s greatness as a leader was that he was willing to be a good follower to Moses. The greatness of Joshua would be seen in the days to come as he led his people. He was now embarking upon a time that would challenge him like no other. No longer would he follow Moses as he led the people; now he would assume that role of leader. When God chooses us to lead, we must be prepared and apply these principles.
Pastor Neal, through his preaching and his counseling, displays the compassionate heart of a pastor, follows the true leading of the Holy Spirit, and expresses a fervent desire to see lost souls come to know Christ. It is his ultimate desire to see the greater Jacksonville area reached for the cause of Christ and for revival to come to Northeast Florida.