Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE ESSENTIALS OF EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP
"After the death of Moses the Lord's servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: 'Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites.' " (Joshua 1:1, 2 HCSB)
Several years ago, I picked up a copy of a book by Bill Hybels called, "Courageous Leadership." It was at a juncture of my life when there were some important decisions that needed to be made--and as is usually the case, the more significant the decision, the more profound the implications--for good or bad, depending on the outcome. In reading the book, I was reminded of important Scriptural principles, like those we see in Joshua. So, whether you lead a team at church, or have a supervisory role on your job, or guide your children in the home--all of us have influence on someone, and that is the essence of leadership. Someone is following you. The question is whether we are being effective. There are several essentials for effectiveness in leadership seen in Joshua.
We must be a person of VISION.
"After the death of Moses the Lord's servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: 'Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River-all the land of the Hittites-and west to the Mediterranean Sea.' " (Joshua 1:1-4 HCSB)
The leader must see where to go. Otherwise, it will be the tragedy of the blind leading the blind, with both ending up in a ditch--as Jesus warned the spiritual leaders of His day. Importantly, the vision Joshua had was birthed in the heart of God, and not a product of his own ambition. Seek God until His will is clear--and when you hear from Him, share that with the people and get "buy-in" from them (read Joshua 1:10-18).
The effective leader must be a person of VALOR.
"No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. ...Haven't I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:5-7, 9 HCSB)
The leader must have courage to go. This is the recurring message God was indelibly impressing on Joshua. Leadership requires a spine of steel. Courage is contagious--and so is cowardice. Joshua could well recall how as a young man, he and Caleb had gone behind enemy lines on a reconnaissance mission--along with ten others. Those ten then put the people in a panic with the result that they died in the wilderness. This time things would be different. Joshua's valor would inspire Israel's warriors to be valiant.
Effectiveness in leadership requires VIRTUE.
"Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do." (Joshua 1:7, 8 HCSB)
The leader must demonstrate the qualities worth following. Joshua had submitted himself to obedience to God's commands and could authentically and authoritatively call on his followers to do the same. Character flaws will undermine confidence in the most competent of leaders. It is indispensable for those leading in the church. God can use a crude instrument--so long as it is a clean instrument!
The leader God uses will have the essential understanding of VALUE.
"They answered Joshua, 'Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go. We will obey you, just as we obeyed Moses in everything. And may the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Anyone who rebels against your order and does not obey your words in all that you command him, will be put to death. Above all, be strong and courageous!' " (Joshua 1:16-18 HCSB)
The leader must know how to get where he needs to go. Joshua knew how to separate the essential from the extraneous, what was primary and what was peripheral. He had a laser-like focus and led the Jews to value the same things. Clear communication keeps everyone moving in the same direction. It is the difference between the military marching and a mob meandering.
Leaders who get the job done are people of VIGILANCE.
"Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.
The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one is able to stand against you to this day. One of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as He promised. So be very diligent to love the Lord your God for your own well-being. For if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you..." (Joshua 23:6-12 HCSB)
The leader must not be detoured from the path. Here is Joshua years later, challenging the people to follow through on their victories. They were not to deviate from God's direction. It is easy to get side-tracked. Leaders are on guard against this.
Ultimately, the mark of successful leadership is VICTORY.
" 'Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship Yahweh. But if it doesn't please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.'
The people replied, 'We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because He is our God.' " (Joshua 24:14-18 HCSB)
The leader must overcome difficulties along the way. Doing the right thing is seldom the easy thing. There will always be giant obstacles in the pathway of progress. Press on! Joshua did and we see the results. He directed his own steps, "As for me..." and led his family "and my family..." motivating the people "We will..." and this is victory!
Each of these attributes Joshua possessed are illustrated time and again throughout the book. As we have begun our reading in Joshua today and complete it this week, I encourage you to carefully study the text for it will afford many profitable examples of these essentials.
Pray for me--that I can be one who will walk in Joshua's sandals. This is courageous leadership--and nothing else will do in these difficult days.