#287 The ABC’s of Beginning Well: Believe in God’s Promises

October 28, 2020

As we saw in the last issue, Joshua began well in his new role by acknowledging the realities of his situation. As he began he heard God give him several promises. 

5  No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7  “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. 8  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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. 9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9).

At the beginning of his leadership journey Joshua heard and believed these promises which would become foundational to his leadership practice. God gave three promises that all serving leaders rely on, not only to begin their journey, but also to continue well.

God promises His presence.

I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God promised Joshua that whatever would happen to him as a leader, God would be with him. Leaders make difficult decisions and carry the burdens of knowing their decisions impact all those under their leadership. Sometimes there are choices which need to be made which will not be accepted by those they lead. The weight of these responsibilities can cause a leader to feel lonely. But God promised Joshua that in every situation, he would not be alone, he would have God’s presence with him. Serving leaders acknowledge that they need to draw on a source of wisdom and understanding especially as they step into new levels of responsibility or face unexpected challenges.  Serving leaders rely on God’s presence to give them wisdom for the challenges of leadership. His presence gives serving leaders an awesome advantage!

God promises His power.

Three times in these verses God tells Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.”  Joshua would need strength and power for his new role. He was to lead people into a new land and there would be battles ahead. Leadership requires strength. Joshua was expected to do his part, but it would not be enough. As he began this role, he needed to be aware that he would not succeed because of his own credentials or previous experience. He needed the additional power God promised. So God reminded him the land he would conquer was promised by God and would provide His power to help Joshua accomplish the task. The mission was His! Serving leaders receive training and learn from books and other excellent resources. They work hard and do all they can. But they also gratefully believe that God has promised them the power they need to do what He has called them to do.

God promises His plan.

God expected Joshua to lead well, but He also assured Joshua that He had a plan. He first gives Joshua personal instructions, to carefully obey God’s law so he would “be prosperous and successful.” God would later add more details to this plan but as Joshua began, obedience was the foundation. Serving leaders do not simply develop their own plans; they seek to follow God’s plans. They believe that God’s plan is far greater and more significant than what they can conceive on their own.

Joshua began well by believing the promises God gave him. Serving leaders do the same.

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 question apply to the place where you now serve.)

  • In my current leadership situation, how clearly do I sense God’s presence? What difference does it make in the way I lead? Are there things I need to do to increase my awareness of His presence in my daily activities?
  • In what way do I need power right now in my leadership? Do I tend to rely only on my own power or do I regularly acknowledge my need for God’s power in my leadership?
  • God commanded Joshua, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” In what way do I practice this in my own leadership? Are there changes I need to make to follow Joshua’s example?
  • Does my leadership focus primarily on my plans or discovering and implementing God’s plans? In what way is God inviting me to learn more about His plans for my leadership?         

In the next issue, we’ll examine how serving leaders begin well by connecting with people.

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership, 2020. 

#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.