Be brave? For what?!
If someone advised you to “Take courage!”, how would you respond? “Why?” might be my immediate response.
In Joshua 1:6-9, we see the Lord commanding Joshua to be “strong and courageous three times. But if we take a closer look, we also see the Lord commanding Joshua to obey the Law three times as well. The Lord actually exhorts for bravery only once on account of the battles he would fight (verse 6). After that, all of Joshua’s courage would be needed regarding loving and keeping the Law. Why would he need this? Deuteronomy 31-34 gives us the answer. Once in the Promised Land, the people would all “turn to foreign gods…”(Dt. 31:16, 20). Immediately after this, in verse 23, God exhorts Joshua to courage.
Tackling “giants” is nothing to God. Joshua had seen giants before and had hoped for the chance to overcome them 40 years earlier (Numbers 13-14). However, Joshua had also witnessed unbelief and rebellion and their effect on people. Joshua needed a love for God and His Law even more than strength, courage, and determination. It would take all these things to complete the mission God had given him.
It takes courage to obey God and even more courage to lead unwilling people to do the same. Giants are one thing; tackling the hearts of rebellious people is another.
For those of you in leadership, Joshua’s story also offers another valuable truth: we don’t get our validation from people. Affirmation is wonderful, but man’s approval (or lack thereof) does not determine our identity in Christ. I realize that affirmation is important and valid, but is it vitally important? …Important enough to tempt us to rebellion? In our world today, it takes more courage to be obedient and pursue holiness than it does to simply be “relevant.” Obedience in the life of a disciple is the natural overflow of a life impacted by the Gospel. The validation that counts to those who follow the master comes from the master. Joshua needed to understand this truth and it’s this truth that would ultimately make him a better servant and leader for the people.
As you go out into the next chapter of your life, don’t forget the things God has told you, shown you, and promised you. The giants you may be facing are one thing, and God can take care of those. Sickness, pride, divorce, child trafficking… are all giants God wants to and can slay. It’s the giant of our heart—our devotion to Him—that God won’t force (see Rev. 3:20). Give Him access to this “giant,” and there is nothing God can’t do through any of us.
Open the door to Him daily. Be faithful with His Word—spoken and written. Be strong and courageous!
Here are some questions to consider:
1. Are you trying hard to be relevant, or do you simply need more courage to be obedient?
2. As you look at a situation today, are you more concerned with what people think, or what God thinks?
3. In your leadership (or followership) are you more concerned with failing people, or disobeying God?
4. What safeguards (good habits and relationships) do you have in your life that help you see Jesus clearly in every decision?
Jeremy West has been on staff with Youth With A Mission since 1995. He teaches and runs training programs in the fields of discipleship and leadership development, worldwide.
“Leadership is a responsibility, not an identity; we are all disciples, first.”