Leadership, a dirty job.

Who is your favorite leader and why did you choose this person? It could be someone from your past, in your family, a friend, at work, at church, or simply some leader you choose to pay attention to. What stands out most about this leader?

Joshua from the Bible is one of my favorite leaders and in today’s reading (Joshua 23) he gives his final speech to Israel. In this speech, there are numerous examples of leadership and lessons for us to learn to lead better.

Don’t believe the lie which might be whispered, “you’re not a leader”. YOU are a leader no matter what you think. People observe you. People depend on you. Don’t forget, there is good and bad leadership and sometimes people follow our bad behavior as well.

Some examples of Joshua’s leadership and qualities of great leaders:

  • He gathered other leaders together to communicate his message (verses 1-2). Great leaders build leaders around them and they communicate effectively, trusting that those leaders will take the message forward.
  • He reminded them of God’s faithfulness and gave glory to God (not himself) as God was the one who fought for them against their enemies (verse 3). Great leaders are selfless and they reflect and motivate.
  • As the Israelites fought their enemies, they gained new land. Joshua was the leader in these wars. Joshua clearly sets the boundaries in the land that they have conquered, and not yet conquered (verse 4). Great leaders set clear boundaries, clear expectations, and they build the structure for future generations of leaders and followers.
  • Joshua remained confident in God’s promises, knowing that even after his own death, they as a people will have victory against their enemies (verse 5). Great leaders build other leaders who can take over after they leave. Great leaders also have a positive attitude, trusting that their teams and followers will do their part. Lastly, great leaders put their trust in God, knowing they cannot do it alone. Joshua did all of these things.
  • In verses 6-8: He pointed them to God’s word and instructions, telling them what not to do and what to do. These instructions are all based on God’s laws for our lives so that we may live with abundance and refrain from sinning. Great leaders have a strong moral compass and seek to educate and influence others to do the same, not for the benefit of the leader, but for the people.
  • Joshua motivates and encourages them, recognizing the importance of each person when he says in verse 10 “each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy”. This is some powerful stuff, all because God was with them and fights for them. Again, great leaders motivate and encourage. They believe and have deep convictions in what they are doing and what will be done.
  • In verse 11 Joshua then points back to the greatest commandment, “love the LORD your God”. Love is a verb; great leaders give great examples of their love and teach others to do the same.

While Joshua was a fantastic leader, there is no better leader than God in the flesh, the king who came not to be served but to serve, giving his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45 paraphrased). This same man Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, taking on the lowest and dirty job as an example for us to follow.

Whose feet will you wash today so that they may see the love and leadership of Jesus in you?