Men I've Learned From: Joshua
A lot of young men want to be godly leaders and, commendably, ask what that looks like. But, with 40% of children growing up in homes without fathers, there aren't a lot of examples of fathers at all, let alone godly ones.
But, we find a remarkable template for godly leadership right in the first chapter of the book of Joshua.
God Is Saying This to You
When Joshua assumed leadership following the death of Moses, God charges him to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land and assures Joshua of his presence in the impending battle.
"Every place [you step upon] I have given you. ... No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you." Joshua 1:3-5
In the strongest terms, God exhorts Joshua–three times in verses 7-9alone–to have strength and courage and to keep the Book of the Law in his mouth to meditate on it. If Joshua complies with those two directives, his conquest of Canaan will be successful.
In verses 10 and 11, the officers prepare the nation for action, while Joshua goes personally to the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and half-tribe of Manasseh. These tribes were the least motivated to follow Joshua because of a deal they had made with Moses (cf. Numbers 32): they already possessed the land east of the Jordan, which was their inheritance.
Tribes Called to Conquest
But, Joshua reminds them that a condition of the inheritance was that they join in the conquest of the land west of the Jordan. Furthermore, the death of Moses did not release them from that obligation, as it was the Lord that had given them the land.
In response to Joshua in v16-18, the tribes agree to submit to his authority with what appear to be two conditions. "Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses" (v17) and "Only be strong and courageous." (v18)
Note the symmetry between what God required of Joshua to lead, and what the three tribes required of Joshua to follow:
- God needed Joshua to be strong and courageous.
- They (the tribes) needed him to be strong and courageous.
- God would be with him if he kept the law.
- The tribes would follow if God was with him.
This symmetry applies to our roles as men today: we recognize that what God needs from us is virtually identical to what our wives, children, and church need from us.
By emulating Joshua and remembering these principles, we are enabled to become the husbands, fathers, and leaders who God intends us to be.
Pastor Bill is the pastor of Marriage & Family at the West Seattle campus.