As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. —Joshua 1:5
It is a new year! And with that comes transition, adjustments, and for many a change of seasons whether spiritually or physically, specifically death. Feeling abandon is a real-life experience after the death of the leader you have worked closely with for many years. Disappointment is also a factor when you have become attached to a leader and especially their leadership style and now have to adjust to another leader. My own experience gives insight into how Joshua may have felt after Moses’ death. It was indeed a time of transition—CHANGE for purpose—moving forward. God had appointed this time to move His people from forty years of wilderness wanderings to possess their inheritance.
Are you in transition with leadership?
Is it time to possess your promise?
The Israelites’ transition would result in the promise made to Abraham long ago. Not only would this be a geographical move, but it would also mean psychological adjustment for Joshua and the people.
If we are honest, we don’t always like the way God brings His purposes and promises to pass. Usually transition is uncomfortable and puts us in an unsettling position. As a result, our opinions and complaints are often fueled by our disappointment and disagreement with the change. Nevertheless, if we are really on the Lord’s side, we must exercise another level of faith and trust in the sovereignty of God. Transition should cause us to do three (3) things:
1) Position ourselves in God’s presence to hear His voice for clear directions. Hearing the voice of the Lord is extremely critical during times of transition. We are more vulnerable emotionally and susceptible to demonic assaults on the mind. The fiery darts of the devil are hurled in the form of defeating thoughts and feelings of rejection, abandonment, discouragement, and the list can go on and on. When death occurs it thrusts us into a time of transition that can be overwhelming emotionally. It is easier to lose focus on God’s perspective in transition. We spend too much time reflecting on the process and analyzing the details surrounding every aspect of this whirlwind of change. Consequently, we risk getting stuck in the present, worrying and being fearful about the future instead of trusting God to move us forward.
2) Respond positively to the transition with confidence that God’s purposes shall prevail. Murmuring and complaining, negative opinions and gossip are carnal (fleshly) responses. Anytime God’s people (Christians) respond carnally to spiritual matters such as Kingdom assignments and leadership transition in Christ’s church it is evidence of having a carnal mindset, not discerning spiritual matters. Whether we understand God’s plan and purpose, disagree or dislike the way the transition was made, we must be careful how we react and respond. We must always remember, God sees all and knows all. Nothing is hidden from Him and He will deal with matters concerning His Church (Body) His way and in His timing. (Ref. Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18)
3) Submit and be faithful to leadership as unto the Lord. We have no control over the will of another person. We only have control over our attitude and actions. Everyone is accountable to God, especially those in leadership positions. Personally, we must always do what is right, be prayerful, and respect leadership transition.
Again, consider the leadership transition of Moses to Joshua. Assisting the leader is one thing, but being the leader raises the level of responsibility and accountability to God. Although Joshua had been there with Moses as his assistant, he did not have to make any decisions. Moses had always been the one; he was the leader chosen by God. It was Moses who gave instructions from God—“said what God said.” Moses had dealt with the rebellious, stiff-necked people. He had been the object of their complaints and murmuring because they had become comfortable being in bondage and wanted to return. Moses had been the one to intercede on their behalf when God wanted to kill them all (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, everything that Joshua saw Moses deal with as the leader he would inherit.
Would it be any easier for Joshua than for Moses? After all, this was the second generation (Joshua 5:4). They did not have the “bondage” mindset; they had a “wilderness” mindset. This second generation hadn’t experienced the miraculous deliverance from Egypt. They had not walked across the Red Sea on dry land. They had not witnessed the power of Moses’ rod.
Do you think it was easier for Joshua to lead this generation as Moses’ successor? No. It was not any easier. Although it was another generation, the sinful nature of humanity remains in opposition to God’s law, then and now. Man’s disobedience to God will always make leading people challenging (Joshua 7:1-11). There are good times and difficult times.
Nevertheless, the challenge of transition in leadership affects not only the leader but also the people. They must adjust to a new leader and leadership style. Joshua had been faithful in assisting Moses. He had been prepared to lead the Israelites, and assumed his leadership role at 80 years young. What we must remember is that transition is always about God’s plan, purpose, and promise. Joshua’s assignment is clearly stated,
“Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them.” —Joshua 1:2
God understands how transition can affect us mentally and emotionally. He assured Joshua of His presence, protection, and plan that guaranteed his success (Joshua 1:3-9). Not only did God assure Joshua of being an effective leader, He also established him as His choice to lead before the people. This is important in times of transition. It validates and affirms the new leader as God’s chosen (Joshua 3:7). Since it was a time of transition, there would be a new strategy for accomplishing what God purposed and assigned to Joshua. Although the promise was made to Abraham, the strategy for possessing the promise would be different—the transition resulted in a time of conquest. Israel would have to fight to obtain the promise.
Oftentimes, transition involves conflict, challenges and struggles in order to move you from the place of familiarity and comfort to another place where God’s plan, purpose and promises are waiting for you. Transition requires a “faith fight.” And I am convinced in this New Year, “uncommon” faith is a requirement. Thankfully, the good news is that you have the assurance of God’s protection and presence— “I will not fail you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5c NLT).
Although feeling abandon is a real-life experience after the death of the leader you have assisted in ministry or been under their leadership for many years, the assurance of God’s presence makes the transition a peaceful process. However, we must make sure we obey God’s instructions, honor and respect leadership to reap the rewards.
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