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BE DETERMINED AND CONFIDENT

My favourite bible verses

Joshua 1:1-9
6th February 2005

A great leader is the subject of a recent film. He was a dashing warrior king, filled with ambition, courage and the arrogance of youth, leading his vastly outnumbered forces against massive Middle Eastern forces. He desperately longed for the approval of his stern father. He was torn by his mother’s legacy. He was a relentless conqueror who never lost a battle and drove his soldiers to the very edges of the known world. He was a visionary whose dreams, deeds and destiny helped shape the world as we know it today. He was all that and more. His name? Alexander the Great.

Oliver Stone’s film Alexander is based on a man who conquered 90% of the known world by the age of 25. Alexander led his virtually invincible Greek and Macedonian armies through 22,000 miles of sieges and conquests for eight years, and by the time of his death at the age of 32 had forged an empire unlike any the world had ever seen. The story of a Western leader subjugating what is now Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan has a certain topical resonance. And guess what? It is a not a good film. One ABC film critic said it “was the worst film I have ever seen.” A BBC reviewer said, “With its epic heights of pantomime silliness, Alexander will grate on your nerves.” Another said, “For a director whose movies are usually energetic, ambitious and exciting, Stone’s biggest crime here is making a film so crushingly unengaging.” Another said it was simply a fabricated promotion for homosexuality. The Greek Government has banned it and Greek scholars have taken court action seeking to protect a great Greek hero from homosexual smearing.

One Jewish leader had similar military success. Joshua was the leader of that huge group of Israelites who had followed Moses out of slavery in Egypt on a journey back to their homeland in about 1250 BC. Moses died after leading the Israelites for 40 years. His successor, Joshua had the task of taking the people from the desert to re-capturing their old homeland that had been occupied by the Canaanites for the previous 400 years. Joshua was trained in the Egyptian army. He accompanied Moses up Mt Sinai to receive the Law from the Lord. He was beside Moses as they had fought their way from oasis to oasis in the wilderness to the land of Canaan. On Mt Pisgah east of Jericho, Moses, old and weak, looked over the land he knew he would never enter. He appointed Joshua his successor, and then died.

Joshua faced the problems of leadership. He was troubled by his natural feelings of uncertainty, inferiority, fear, and discouragement. But God assured him. That assurance changed him into a strong, successful leader and servant of people. His success as a leader is a study of good management technique and leadership skills. His effectiveness as a servant of the Lord is a good example for those of us in the Lord’s work. Joshua gave his vision to his people. He radiated conviction and confidence. His senior staff transmitted that to his people and they responded to his leadership. His military leadership is seen as Joshua attacked a number of well-defended Canaanite cities, capturing them all. His strategies differed for each. His smaller, more mobile band of fighters and their families and flocks, toughened by 40 years of travels through the desert, won their way into the occupied land.

JERICHO is a strategic city by the main ford on the lower River Jordan and by the narrow pass through the Judean Hills to Jerusalem and other highland cities. It was essential to any invader. Jericho at the bottom of the great rift valley, is the lowest city on earth 750 feet below sea level. It had immense walls of mud brick. Because of the archaeologists Professor John Garstang and Dame Kathleen Kenyon, you can walk the ruins of walls like Joshua faced, 25 feet thick and 27 feet high surrounded by a deep moat. Jericho was founded in 8,000 BC, and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Joshua attacked at flood time by surrounding the city, marching round it following the priests carrying their Ark of the Covenant and trumpets, once a day for six days in complete silence. Then on the seventh day marching around it seven times with trumpets blowing, and then one long blast followed by a victory shout. The walls came tumbling down and the soldiers rushed in for vigorous hand to hand fighting killing the occupants. The ruins of walls seen today show evidence of massive destruction as if by earthquake followed by fire. Joshua sacked others.

AI was also a strategic city captured by speed and surprise. Joshua hid most of his forces behind the city during the night. With only five thousand soldiers he attacked the city at dawn at the front gates then retreated. The Canaanites thought they had him on the run, opened the city gates and streamed out after the fleeing Israelites leaving their city open and undefended. His main force then slipped out of hiding at the rear of the city and invaded it unopposed. They set the city on fire.

Then they pursued the Canaanites. Seeing the smoke the Canaanites stopped, only to find the Israelites in front of them now attacking, and a larger force coming at them from the rear. This classic example of a pincer movement has been the envy of military strategists ever since. His political leadership is seen in his careful government of the newly captured territory. Some cities he won by military victory, some by careful bargaining. He then split the entire country into twelve tribal states and gave to the tribes the task of mopping up resistance and enforcing a peace. His spiritual leadership is seen in his stress upon the people studying the Word of God, in obeying God’s commands, in renewing the Covenant with God where the people promised to serve the Lord only and he would give them victory and blessing, and in reinstituting the practise of circumcision on every male as an initiation sign of spiritual and tribal allegiance. It was Joshua who put before the people that famous challenge: “Choose you this day whom you will serve. If you are not willing to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshipped in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Canaanites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”

The staff of a great church like this, who are called to ministry and leadership in service, often have the same feelings of uncertainty, inferiority, fear, and discouragement in spite of diverse talents and skills. Despite high qualifications and experience, we are all conscious of working for God in the tasks supporting evangelism and social welfare.

We know we are the hands of Christ ministering to every kind of human need. This church employs qualified staff in many fields, and an alphabetical list would include: accounting, administration, auditing, advertising, architecture, budget control, building construction, bus drivers, chefs, catering, chaplaincy, child-care, cleaning, conference management, camping ministries, concierge, cleaning, counselling, data entry, drug rehabilitation, deferred giving, educationalists, employment counsellors, estate planning, evangelism, events marketing, family support, farming, financial control, fund-raising, furniture manufacture, gambling therapy, graphic design, horticulture, hospital and hostel administration, hydrotherapy, insurance, industrial relations, IT, journalism, kindergarten teaching, laundry operators, lawyers, lecturers, marketers, maintenance, medicine, ministry, media production, multi-cultural welfare, music, nursing, OH&S, occupational therapy, packaging, painting, palliative care, pastoral care, personal assistants, psychiatry, psychology, personal care assistants, payroll services, personnel services, pharmacy, pharmaceutical packaging, photography, physiotherapy, printing, property maintenance, psychiatry, psychology, purchasing, quality control, risk management, radio production, rehabilitation, retirement counselling, secretarial, security, shop management, sociology, social work, strategic alliances, switch board, teaching, textile recycling, transportation, television production, unit sales, video production, vegetable growing, volunteer co-ordination, word-processing, waitpersons, Xerox copying, youth work, youth ministry, and zimmer frame walkers! Yet high qualifications alone are not enough to lead a church.

Many given the tasks of leadership and service suffer from uncertainty about the future and best methods; inferiority from the superior attitudes of government officials and private enterprise employees; fear of falling below the standards of our Lord and the expectations of our people; and discouragement from lack of facilities, money or support to do your best. But God gives to us the same assurances as he gave to Joshua. What can we learn from great leaders to enable us in our tasks? Look at JOSHUA 1, a favourite Bible chapters.

1. A VISION OF SUCCESS. Joshua 1:1-4

Joshua was sustained by a vision of success. He could see the land before him. He could visualise future growth and accomplishment. We too have a vision of success in the work we do. We see all that has been accomplished. We have a definite plan of continued expansion of our services and growth in our proclamation of the Gospel. We have a vision of success. Without it we would die. As Scripture records: “Where there is no vision the people perish”.

2. AN ASSURANCE OF COMPANIONSHIP. Joshua 1:5

Joshua was sustained by that assurance of companionship. God said to him: “Joshua, no-one will be able to defeat you as long as you live. I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will always be with you; I will never abandon you.” That promise sustained Him. We too know that God promises to be with us to guide, sustain and support us. Jesus promised to be with us wherever we went, even to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit is God’s comforter with us.

3. A CHALLENGE TO STRONG LEADERSHIP. Joshua 1:6-9.

Joshua was given four commands: three times he was commanded: “be determined”, three times he was commanded: “be confident”, then “be obedient to God. “Make sure that you obey the whole Law Moses gave you. Do not neglect any part of it and you will succeed wherever you go…make sure you obey everything written in the Law of the Lord. Be regular in reading the scriptures. Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, then you will be prosperous and successful.” We also have those four commands that enable effective service and leadership: be determined, be confident, be obedient, and be regular in reading the scriptures. If you wish to lead a confident and successful life, there is a guide for you. I know none better in all of the books I have read or management courses I have attended. The promises of God are available to all who like Joshua learn to trust and obey: “Then you will be prosperous and successful. Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for I the Lord your God am with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

The name “Joshua”, “Yeshua” means “The Lord saves”. God told Joseph that His son would be born in Bethlehem of Mary, and Joseph would call the boy “Yeshua” (Joshua) or in the common Greek language that was spoken at that time, “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Those who know Jesus saves can live with determination and confidence knowing His companionship and that no matter what faces them, they are secure in His hands.

Gordon Moyes

 

Wesley Mission, Sydney.