19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” Joshua 24:19
Our deep dive into the heart of servant leadership continues. In the first post, we covered the subject that leaders are bold and courageous. Today we unpack the call for boldness.
Myron Rush identifies tough issues facing every Christian leader in The New Leader. These two qualities will serve as the basis for this post and Joshua will be our test subject.
– You must be willing to go against public opinion to promote what you believe.
– You must be willing to stand alone.
The Background of Joshua 24.
This section of Scripture is Joshua’s second farewell address. Joshua was speaking to Israel’s leaders and many of the people (24:1). At the center of his message was true leadership, service. During this address, some form of the word ‘serve’ will appear fourteen times.
To be crystal clear Joshua began his message by saying, “‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel …’“ (v. 2). He wanted no doubt in the minds of the people, service is right from the mouth of God. Joshua was not sharing his opinion nor something he gleaned from the latest Canaanite philosopher. His message on service came from God himself. The Ancient of Days was the one demanding their faithful service. Joshua was merely his messenger.
You must be willing to go against public opinion to promote what you believe.
Joshua was fighting an uphill battle. Israel was in a land where many false gods were worshipped. It is Joshua’s task to redefine service, so the people will not mistake God’s will. Joshua’s message from God is contrary to public opinion. The people wanted to have their God and false gods too. God countered this desire by demanding His due while repudiating all false gods.
Service means first and foremost to give God his due, to fear him and then to serve him with sincerity and truth (v. 14). As Ellsworth describes it, “To fear God is to hold him in reverence and awe and to tremble at his displeasure. To serve him in sincerity is to serve him wholeheartedly. To serve him in truth means to serve faithfully.
They could not serve God and other gods. So, Joshua called them to put away the gods which their fathers had worshipped and the gods which were so plentiful there in the land of Canaan (v. 15).”
Joshua lifts this leadership principal for our viewing. As a leader, you must stand in opposition to public opinion. As the culture continues to shift away from Christian values those stands will become more public and more frequent.
You must be willing to stand alone.
As Joshua makes his stand, it appears all is well. The leadership responds, of course, that they will serve the one true God. “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,…”Joshua 24:16
Joshua sensed triteness in their words. So, He strongly challenged their hollow confession by saying, “‘You cannot serve the Lord …’” (v. 19).
Joshua is warning the people that God is not to be taken lightly, because He is a holy God and a jealous God. God knows their hearts. If they are not sincere in their vow to serve, God would detect it and would judge them.
“If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” Joshua 24:20
Leaders must stand for what is right even when they must stand alone. Joshua would not allow his flock to determine his actions nor shake his unwavering commitment to His God. There will be times as a leader when you must stand alone, but if you are in the will of God you are never truly alone. God stands with you in the gap and upholds you with His might and power.
Stay tuned as we continue to drill deeper into leadership next week.
Other posts on leadership in the series:
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