Friday, October 21, 2011

God's apprenticeship program for leaders

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Deuteronomy 34:1-12

TO CHEW ON: "Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses." Deuteronomy 34:9

I wonder how Joshua first came to Moses' attention, and why. Perhaps it was his innate leadership ability, for he was first mentioned as a leader of the Hebrew fighters when they battled Amalek (Exodus 17:9). (That's the battle that the Israelites won as Moses kept his hands raised with the help of Aaron and Hur.)

He then became Moses' servant—someone who did a lot of lingering in the background. It was Joshua who accompanied Moses partway up Mount Sinai waiting around while Moses got the commandments (Exodus 24:12-13). His staying behind at the tent of meeting after Moses met with God there is fascinating (Exodus 33:11). One gets the sense that he so enjoyed being in God's presence he didn't want to leave.

When Moses sent spies into Canaan, Joshua was one of two (Caleb was the other) who came back with an encouraging report—whose view of God was bigger than fear of the giant Philistines (Numbers 14:6-30). That incident was about 40 years before the events in today's reading.

Moses had recently laid his hand on Joshua in ordination. He was God's choice: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him...and inaugurate him..." (Numbers 27:18-21). Moses then challenged the Israelites to respect and follow him (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). And so here he was, their leader after Moses 'disappeared.'

Joshua is an example of how God sometimes puts future leaders into an apprenticeship program where they serve more than lead.  Elisha serving Elijah is another instance of this.

It doesn't always work out that way with servants, though. Remember Gehazi, Elisha's servant? Elisha may have been trying to mentor him. After all, he sent Gehazi back with the Shunamite woman to raise her son from death. Gehazi couldn't do it (2 Kings 4:29-31). And later, he proved himself unworthy as even a servant when he went after Naaman for the gift he had offered Elisha, lying to both Naaman and his boss (2 Kings 5:20-27).

Perhaps you sense that you're really leader material but feel stuck in the background serving. Don't grow impatient. Rather let this time of service sift and strengthen you. For if leadership is God's plan for your future, you are in the perfect apprenticeship program.


PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the example of wise, godly Joshua who served before he led. Help me to be a willing and faithful servant, waiting for You to raise me to more responsibility—or not. Amen.

MORE: A verse to memorize

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:10


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