#286 The ABC’s of Beginning Well: Acknowledge Realities

October 14, 2020

In the last series we learned from Moses how serving leaders transition well. Now, let’s examine the other side of that process, the beginning of a new role for Joshua, his successor. All leaders will experience times when they step into a new position of leadership responsibility or transition to a new organization or group. What does it look like to begin well? In this series we will examine at the ABC’s of beginning well from the life of Joshua: Acknowledge realities, Believe in God’s promises and Connect with people.

Leaders often begin roles with unrealistic expectations. They may expect it to be the best role ever or they may have doubts about their competence for the task. In either case serving leaders need to acknowledge the realities as Joshua did.

1  After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “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. 3  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses (Joshua 1:1-3).

From Joshua serving leaders learn to acknowledge three realities as they begin new roles.

Acknowledge the past.

Joshua was reporting for duty in his new role.  The first thing that God speaks to him acknowledges the past, “Moses my servant is dead.” Ponder that for a moment. With five simple words God acknowledges the great leader that preceded Joshua. Moses walked through the Red Sea and met with God on Mount Sinai! It was a tough job for Joshua to follow in his footsteps. God did not want Joshua or serving leaders to ignore the past as they begin a new role.

Serving leaders acknowledge their own past. They bring their personal history into the new role. They acknowledge what they learned in the past from their mistakes and victories.

Serving leaders also acknowledge the past which belongs to the organization they are joining. They are eager to bring their own gifts and calling to the new role and to bring change, but before they seek to change the future, they acknowledge the past! If they have a predecessor, they seek to learn about what that person did and why they led in that way. They speak respectfully of those who came before them no matter what their performance.  Serving leaders acknowledge and learn from the past but they don’t dwell on it.

Acknowledge the present.

God moves quickly from the past to the present. “Now then, you….” Moses was gone and would not return. Joshua is now the leader of the people. God wants him to acknowledge this reality. Joshua needed to learn to see himself in a new way for the new role. He was no longer the assistant to the leader; he was now in charge! Serving leaders accept the mental change that needs to happen in a new role but not with pride or confidence in themselves. They acknowledge with humility and gratitude their new position of service.  

Acknowledge the task.

Then God reminds Joshua of the work ahead, “Now then…. get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land…” God had work for Joshua to do and it was a huge task, leading a nation of people into hostile territory.  God has a task for all serving leaders who begin new assignments or carry on at old ones. Serving leaders have roles because there is work that needs to be done to accomplish God’s purposes for a particular place and time. Serving leaders acknowledge that God has given them a place to serve to accomplish His task. They recognize that leadership is not about them but the great purpose of God. They begin well by acknowledging the realities of the past, the present and the task at hand.  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

(If you are not in a new role currently, consider how these questions apply to the place where you now serve.)

  • What history do I need to acknowledge to serve well in my present role? How do I speak about those who came before me? Is my tendency to focus on the past too much or too little?
  • Do I accept myself and the role in which I now serve? Is it easier for me to see myself less than or greater than I should see myself? What does this say about the condition of my heart? Take a moment to allow God to speak to you about the condition of your heart. Ask Him to bring to your mind ways that He wants you to bring yourself to your current role. 
  • What is the task to which I am called? Is it clear to me how God intends for me to use my position of influence to advance His purpose in the group I serve? If not, what do I need to do to clarify this call? 

In the next issue, we will look at how leaders begin well by believing in God’s promises.   

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership, 2020.