#288 The ABC’s of Beginning Well: Connect with the people

November 11, 2020

Joshua provides a model to all serving leaders about how to begin well in a new role or position. As we have seen in the previous two issues, he began by acknowledging the realities of his situation, then he believed in God’s promises. But leadership is all about relationships and Joshua also models well how to connect with the people.

10  So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11  “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.’ ” 12  But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13  “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you after he said, ‘The LORD your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14  Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15  until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land 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.” 16  Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17  Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18  Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”   (Joshua 1:11-18).

By the end of these verses, there was a strong relational bond between Joshua as a leader and those who followed. He was ready to lead and they were ready to follow!

All serving leaders can learn three things from the way Joshua connected with the people.

Connect with the influencers of the people. Joshua first addressed the “officers” of the people. These were the primary influencers in the nation and Joshua connected with them directly. He acknowledged their role and did not attempt to do their work. He gave them a message to deliver, knowing that the people under them would receive the message well from them. Serving leaders recognize that while they may not be able to connect personally with everyone in a large organization, they can connect well with those who influence others. As they establish strong relationships with these influencers, they increase their ability to serve the entire group well.

Connect with the interests of the people. “the land the LORD your God is giving you.”  Joshua already knew what the people were interested in, he understood their hearts. They were passionate about entering the land God had promised to them.

Serving leaders learn to know the hearts, passions, and interests of those they lead. They serve them well by pointing out how the next steps take them closer to their goals. They recognize that leadership is not only about helping the leader reach his or her goals, but helping those they serve accomplish the desires of their heart.

Connect with the individuality of the people.  Joshua had special instructions for two of the tribes who were in a unique situation (see verses 12-16). He did not attempt to treat everyone exactly the same way. Serving leaders connect with people by learning their uniqueness. They seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each person on their team and they shape their leadership to best serve the individuality of those they lead. Serving leaders serve everyone well but do not serve everyone the same. 

Serving leaders, especially as they begin new roles, make an effort to connect with the people they serve. They learn from Joshua that beginning well always includes strong relationships.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

In the next issue, we’ll begin to look at how Jesus modeled the five actions of serving leaders. 

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership, 2020.