My Top Posts for December

UnknownHere are my top posts for the month of December. We have arrived at the end of another year. We must reflect and look ahead to be intentional about what kind of leaders we want to be in 2013. May some of these posts serve you in that way.

Delegation vs Empowerment  Always one of my most popular posts. Take a look and add to the discussion.

The Culture of Horn Honking  This post recently became popular again, mainly outside the U.S. I share some observations on cultural differences between the U.S., Italy, and India.

5 for Leadership (12/8/12)  The 5 for Leadership weekly series has proven to be a popular offering. This is my opportunity to expose you to other writers and their thoughts on leadership. This recent 5 contains a post on courage, something from Mark Miller, and a review of the Movie Lincoln.

5 for Leadership (12/15/12)  Here is another 5 for Leadership that was very popular during the month. This 5 provides some insight on dealing with leadership stress, some of the best books of 2012, Millennial women and leading, and leadership succession.

Leadership Tiredness Due to Balance  This post seem to hit home for many as I discussed balance verses pace as a leadership pursuit.

Thanks for taking a look. Please contribute your comments to add to the ongoing learning for leaders.


Courage & The Next Leader

medium_475035174I have always been fascinated by the biblical account of Israel entering the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. Joshua had made a career of being the right-hand man to Moses. But through disobedience Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land and God tapped Joshua as the successor to lead the people into this new destiny. I have blogged before about leadership succession and I used these two leaders as my context.

It is not easy to be the next leader.  

In this case Joshua is succeeding an icon in the man Moses. Yet it was Joshua’s task to take this million plus people  across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Four times in eighteen verses Joshua is exhorted to be courageous. You would need a healthy dose of courage too if you were leading over a million people into a hostile land. And remember, this large, rag tag bunch did not have the best track record for obedience. And, for added pressure,  this is your first role as commander and chief. But what stands out to me within these four exhortations to courage is not how they relate to Joshua’s weaknesses, but rather how they relate to his mission.

1. Courage For The Mission Matters.  Two of the four charges to courage are directly related to the objective.  V. 6 states, Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. The land, the promised land, is part of a covenant relationship between Yahweh and his people.  This goes all the way back to Genesis 12 and the story of Abraham. Even today there is little that is of more importance to the Jewish nation than the promised land.  Yet, the land in Joshua’s day was occupied and those occupants would have to be displaced. God promises to be with Joshua every step of the way, yet it will still take courage to fulfill God’s will.  V. 9 says, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Again, this command to courage is related to the going. It is tied to the leadership task that Joshua has been given. There will certainly be days when Joshua will be tempted to be afraid and dismayed. But God says that he can take courage for the very reason that the God of the universe goes with him. It is God’s idea and God intends to use Joshua to fulfill his plans. The missional objective is clear and God expects Joshua to step into it.

2. Courage In The Method Matters.  The other two exhortations to courage are directly related to how Joshua carries out the mission. It is not easy to stick to moral principles. It is not easy to lead consistently out of core convictions.  V. 7 states, Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Notice that God knows that it will take courage to accomplish God’s plans God’s way.  Yahweh does not want Joshua to depart from his teaching, recorded in the Law. Apparently it matters to God how a  task is accomplished as much as it is accomplished.  In the final verse of the passage, v. 18, we read, Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous. This a recorded response from the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh. They had decided to take up residence east of the Jordan, but promised to help their brothers in conquering all that was west of the Jordan. Notice again that their call to courage relates to how the mission is accomplished. These tribes believed that if Joshua was closely following God’s commands then no one person should disobey Joshua as God’s representative. Both the what and the how of leadership in this situation mattered.

This should inform us too when it comes to leading in God’s kingdom.

Our calling to lead should rightly include God’s leading toward a clear vision and mission.

Our calling to lead should rightly include a proper means towards that accomplishment.

What we lead people toward and how we lead them both matter.

May our courage and strength to lead well be found in the grace that is Jesus Christ.

Lead well!

(photo credit)

Moses to Joshua: Passing the Baton of Leadership


Gary Paulson on Flickr

Moses is considered one of he greatest leaders in the Old Testament. God used Moses to free the people of Israel from the chains of Egypt. It was Moses who led them through the wilderness and toward the promised land of Canaan. But ultimately Moses was not going to be the one to lead the people of God into the promised land. In Deuteronomy 3:28 God instructs Moses to “. . . charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.”

At the end of Deuteronomy 3, Moses makes one last plea to God to allow him to pass over the Jordan into the promised land. But God, in no uncertain terms, says absolutely not. This stems back to an incident in Numbers 20 where Moses strikes the rock when he was suppose to speak to the rock–to draw out water for the Israelites. Numbers 20:12 reads, “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me,to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.'” That last statement by God is a whole other lesson. But because of that incident Moses was denied access to the land that was a part of God’s covenant with Abraham, passed down to Isaac and Jacob, a land for the people of God. But there was one last task for Moses to do. He was to prepare Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. What we must take note of are the three descriptive words used to instruct Moses toward that preparation: charge, encourage, and strengthen. I believe that this provides us as 21st-century leaders with some tangible insights about how to prepare those who will and should succeed us.

To “charge” in the Hebrew language means to appoint, ordain or give charge.

The idea is to assign one to a clear role, task or function. In other words, the next leader needs to clearly know what is in front of him or her, what you are asking them to do. Many times it appears to me that “next leaders” are left with little clear direction or clear responsibility. New leaders need to know what and who they are to lead.

To “encourage” (ESV translation) in the Hebrew means more literally to be hard, or harsh.

The connotation can include the idea of having the ability to accomplish what is intended, also implying the element of resolve. A new leader needs new leader skills. There is a sense of competency that is required. There is also a sense of determination that must be added. New leaders must have certain specific abilities. But all abilities can be enhanced and improved. And any leader who secedes another will need resolve to follow God and cut their own path. The old leader “encourages” the new leader through improving the new leader’s abilities and infusing a sense of resolve.

To “strengthen” means to marshal force or to be courageous.

If “encouraging” was primarily about improving abilities then “strengthening” is primarily about attitude. It carries the idea of focus. No leader is worth his or her salt without focus. As I have said before, the key to complexity is not simplicity but focus. Old leaders need to help new leaders focus, to marshal all that God has given them for a God given task. Succeeding leaders can easily become distracted. The outgoing leader must help the new leader rightly focus on the task ahead.

Here is a summary of how Moses was to aid Joshua in taking over as leader of the people of Israel: make the task as clear as possible, help him improve his God given abilities with a sense of resolve, and help him step out in courageous faith with an unwavering focus.

Deuteronomy 34:9 says, “And Joshua the son of Nun was full ofthe spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.”

As the new leader Joshua led the people of Israel into the land that God had promised so many years ago. And Moses helped to prepare him for this glorious task. How are you preparing the leaders around you? Who are you raising up to take your place? Will they be ready?