Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Joshua: A Godly and Successful Leader

Image The book of Joshua contains a wonderful summary of his leadership of Israel. Joshua was a man of great character and loyalty to God. During his service to God and His people, the nation took possession of the land of Canaan, obtaining the inheritance God had promised to Abraham and his descendants.

While each individual is responsible for his own relationship with God, a good leader can exert influence to keep men faithful to the Almighty. Joshua is an example of such a man. As he ascended to the leadership role, God promised him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9). Of course, that favor was contingent upon his loyalty to the Lord, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (1:7).

Faithful leadership is not a guarantee of faithfulness for any people. As we consider the parallel of leadership in the church, it must be noted that a leader can not compel the people to follow his example. He has only skill, character and example to elicit an appropriate reaction in the congregation. However, said skill, character and example can be a wonderful impetus for good. Consider the attributes of Joshua which made him so successful in his leadership of Israel.

  • His humility. Unlike many today, Joshua understood that his position as a leader of Israel was a position of service. This can be partly explained by his position as Moses’ assistant for so many years (cf. Exodus 24:13). Joshua held the most powerful office in Israel following the death of Moses. “And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you’” (Joshua 3:7). Despite this exaltation, he remained true to his calling as the protector and guide of God’s chosen people. The nation of Israel was his concern rather than personal glory.
  • His faith and trust in God. This was evident in his confidence regarding Israel’s ability to take the land of Canaan. He and Caleb opposed the view taken by the other spies that, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31). Joshua and Caleb’s response, “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (14:8-9). Joshua trusted God.
  • His knowledge of and obedience to God’s will. He faithfully heeded God’s command: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). As God promised, Joshua’s obedience secured for him the Almighty’s favor.
  • His dependence upon prayer. When the children of Israel were in battle against the Amorites, Joshua appealed to God for His help. God answered his prayer, “And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). Prayer to God is an important part of any wise leader’s daily practice.
  • His willingness to put God first. Regardless of the cost, and whether he would be followed by the people in his service to God, he proclaimed, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15b).

Joshua’s unflinching loyalty to the Lord had a wonderful effect on the elders of the people, and the people themselves. Because of his leadership, it was written, “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31). May the Lord give to us today such men of vision, virtue and faithfulness as leaders of His church in the 21st century.