Joshua was quite the leader. Joshua is known for his amazing courage, for his ingenuity in conquering Jericho, and for his famous farewell charge. While these are all important moments in Joshua life that helped define him as a leader, they were not ‘the’ defining moment of his leadership career. The defining moment, that brief period during which people final saw him as, “the guy,” happened in Joshua chapter 4.
The author of the sacred Scripture reports,
And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. About 40,000 ready for War passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. (Joshua 4:11-14).
The moment at which signified that the torch had passed from Moses happened as the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River. The forty years of wandering in the wilderness was at an end. Moses had died. The era of promise and new leadership had begun.
But the people of Israel still faced a massive problem. Before they could claim their promise land and start capturing cities, they needed to cross the Jordan River. According to text, the Israelites hit the Jordan sometime during the months of March and April, flood season. Joshua 3:15 says “now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest.” The Jordan River which could reach lows of four feet was probably running around thirteen deep.
Thankfully, God had a plan. He told Joshua to line up all the people as Moses had done. Once in order, the priests carried the ark of the covenant into the Jordan River. As the priests walked into the river, the waters would stop, allowing the people of Israel to walk on dry land (Joshua 3). Once all the people were on dry land and a man from each tribe has taken a stone from the dry river bed, the priest would walk out of the river and the flow of water would resume (Joshua 3-4).
Joshua relayed the message to the people. They listened to Joshua, obeyed the Lord, and the miraculous happened. Joshua 4:14-17 reads,
So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
Joshua is the guy!
Ironically Joshua’s defining leadership moment in the eyes of his supporters had nothing to do with him. He did not walk into the water first. He did not slam a stick into the ground, he did not offer great sacrifices, he did nothing heroic. He simply relayed the Word of God to the people of God.
Joshua was a great leader because he obeyed God. If we hope to be great leaders with must do the same. Great, godly leaders are not the ones who perform heroic feats. Great leaders are not the men who can payoff a million dollar church loan in a month, great leaders are not women who grow their children’s ministry from 5 kids to 500 kids, and great leaders are not the person who can create the next great program. Great leaders are those who obey God.
And great leader desire to obey God because they know that God gives the increase. Notice that Joshua grows in the estimation of his people because “the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel. (Joshua 4:14).God choose Joshua. God told Joshua how to lead. And God made Joshua great.
Friends (and my own dear heart) do not miss this. Greatness is bestowed by God on some of his children. We cannot win people over by getting a picture published in the newspaper. We cannot gain greatness by creating a massive social media platform. We cannot work our way to greatness by starting new program after new program.
The ability to create a great ministry legacy does not reside with us. God gives the increase. God exalts us. God grows our ministry from 5-5000. God does it. Not us.
To be great godly, leaders we need to simply obey God and share his word with others. God told Joshua
This Book of the Law shall not depart form your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you maybe careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and the you will have good success. – Joshua 1-8.
Paul said it this way in I Timothy 4:16
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Great leaders are humble men and women who seek to obey God and to tell others to obey God. Good leadership is never anything less and definitely is nothing more.
Brothers and Sisters are you leading like Joshua?