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A great leader and strategist of his day, Joshua was truly a man used by God to impact a whole nation. Chosen by the Lord to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua refused to shrink back from challenge after challenge, ultimately entering, conquering, and dividing the land among his fellow Hebrews. In fact, the Israelites remained true to Jehovah even after Joshua’s death, a legacy left by few others.
So what were his habits? What traits did Joshua exhibit that created such a climate for impact? Are there transferable principles from his life to help leaders today? Here are some observations about leadership from the life of Joshua.
- Leaders emphasize God twice as much as man (Joshua 1:1-18). Each time Joshua mentioned man and his responsibility, he talked about God (or a reference to Him) and His promises twice. Effective leaders always focus on God more than man!
- Leaders obey God, regardless of the risk involved (Joshua 3:7-6:27; 7:6-26). By nature, leaders forge new paths; they explore and build new roads. Consequently, risk is inevitable; it’s simply part of the leadership package. Avoid risk, and you’re not a pathfinder, but simply a traffic cop. In other words, useful, but not inspiring.
- Leaders understand that personal worship is primary, and personal projects are secondary (Joshua 5:13-15; 8:30-35). It’s our soul that is of utmost importance to God, not our schedule. God is more interested in who we are becoming, not what we are doing.
- Leaders pray constantly, consulting with the Father before making decisions (Joshua 9:3-21; 10:12-14). Four things to consider in what I call “decision praying:”
- Is everything I’m seeing true?
- Is everything I’m hearing true?
- Does this line up with previous information already proven true?
- When I double-check it all again, will it still be true?
- Leaders recognize the continuing impact of previous people (Joshua 11:15, 20, 23; 12:6; 13:8; 14:2; 20:2; 24:2-15). Joshua used the legacy of Moses’ leadership as a catapult. It propelled him farther and gave him greater impact than was ever possible alone.
- Leaders capitalize on the power of momentum (Joshua 10:29-42). Do what you can when things are already rolling along at a good clip. A speeding train is somewhat easy to keep going. But once stopped, it can be a difficult vehicle to get moving. When momentum is on your side, your energy is directed towards steering things; when it’s not, your energy is used up in starting things. Work to build momentum so you can concentrate on steering.
- Leaders empower people to act for themselves (Joshua 17:14-18). Biblical delegation, or the art of empowering others to act in their own best interest, includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Empowering – “you” (mentioned 7 times)
- Authorizing – “go up . . . clear land”
- Envisioning (the potential) – “you will have not only allotment, but the forested hill country as well”
- Affirming – “you are numerous . . . you can drive them out”
Which of these have you most experienced or applied? Are there other lessons from the life of Joshua that have impacted you?