A Serious Call To Spiritual Leadership

Bible Book: Joshua  1 : 9
Subject: Leadership


Everything rises and falls on leadership. This statement affirms the value of leadership in any organization, company, government, church, club or other group. When a leader dies there is a void that occurs and as we know, nature abhors a vacuum. The void that exists in spiritual leadership has reached a crisis level at many times in history and is on the brink of such at this hour. Volunteers are needed like Isaiah the prophet who said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8) but only the venturesome need apply for leadership. We need men of valor, men of vulnerability and men of vision to heed the call to spiritual leadership.

Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “Many people don't realize the costs of being a spiritual leader. The higher we are in leadership, the greater our discipline. If Moses had been an ordinary citizen of Israel, God might not have stopped him from going into the Promised Land. But Moses was a leader. When leaders sin, they pay dearly for it. Let's not cause anyone else to sin today. Be an encouragement to the people of God.”¹

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes, “Wherever anything is to be done, either in the Church or in the world, you may depend upon it, it is done by one man. The whole history of the Church, from the earliest ages, teaches the same lesson. A Moses, a Gideon, an Isaiah, and a Paul are from time to time raised up to do an appointed work; and when they pass away, their work appears to cease. Nor is it given to everyone, as it was to Moses, to see the Joshua who is destined to carry on his work to completion.

God can raise up a successor to each man, but the man himself is not to worry about that matter, or he may do harm. One great object of every religious teacher should be to prevent the creation of external appliances to make his teaching appear to live when it is dead.”²

I. A Premise

“ . . .Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

The occasion of Joshua 1:9 is when Israel experienced a change of leadership. Joshua, a lieutenant under Moses, becomes the human leader of the people after Moses’ death. Suddenly Joshua finds himself thrust into a position that will be most demanding and dangerous. As he stands on the threshold of this new assignment he is solemnly charged, “Have I not commanded you?” (v. 9a). This phrase serves as a premise to the rest of the verse. God is reminding Joshua of a previous command. Oh, how He often graciously repeats His commands! It is indeed heartening to realize that God’s commandments are His enablements.

II. A Practice

In Joshua 1:9 we move from this reminder of a divine injunction (command, directive or order) to the reiteration of a divine instruction. The practice that is commanded is stated positively “Be strong and of good courage . . .” (v. 9b) and then negatively “ . . .do not be afraid nor dismayed . . .” (v. 9c). In the words of a popular song Joshua was to “accentuate the positive” and to “eliminate the negative.” Moses gave this same instruction to Joshua at his inauguration recorded in Deuteronomy 31:6-7,23. God told Joshua three times to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7,9,18), which reminds us that in the heat of battle it is easy to forget the orders from headquarters.

Marion Robert Morrison also known as John Wayne reportedly said, “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.”

There are over 300 instances in the Bible where God says, “Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear.” We should remember, when a man is under God’s orders and protection he has no reason to fear anything.

III. A Promise

Finally, Joshua received a promise, “ . . . for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (v. 9d). This phrase is the reassurance of a divine intervention much like the words of Hebrews 13:5-6, which says, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”

While returning some books written by Dr. R.G. Lee to the pastor who baptized me as a young boy, Rev. Alvin Sullivan, his wife, Dolores, who was my sixth grade teacher at Greystone Christian School in Mobile, Alabama, came out to greet me. After a hug she said a verse came to her mind, which she began to quote from memory, “ . . .Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” As Solomon exclaims, “A word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23) After making my way to the car, I quickly found the verse was Joshua 1:9, which I read several times and meditated on it all the way home.


During a message at the 47th Moody Founder’s Week Conference, Vance Havner shared, “I heard a missionary say the other day, the trouble is that too many folks are singing ‘Standing on the Promises’, when they are just sitting on the premises!”

In his classic titled The Disciplines of Life, Dr. V. Raymond Edman explains, “the discipline of daring [is] to discern one’s duty, to do God’s bidding, to delight in His presence, to depend upon His promise, to discover His power as we obey His word . . .”

The New Testament counterpart to the book of Joshua is the book of Ephesians and it is here that we receive our commission to conquer our Canaan and to possess our possessions in a spiritual sense. Daily God issues a serious call to spiritual leadership.

¹Prayer, Praise, and Promises a daily devotional provided courtesy of Back to the Bible.  ²Charles Spurgeon, in Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 223

Extra Illustrations And Quotes

Nobody Listens:

General John Galvin, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Commander-in-Chief of U.S. European Command, was asked what was it like to be in charge of so many and various forces. His reply: “I often feel like the director of a cemetery. I have a lot of people under me, but nobody listens.”

Source unknown Quotes:

Dwight Eisenhower described leadership as “The act of getting somebody else to do what you want done because he wants to do it.”

Give your decision, never your reasons; your decisions may be right, your reasons are sure to be wrong. - Lord Mansfield

When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision. - Lucius, Second Lord Falkland

Leadership is the ability to hide your panic from others. - Quoted in MSC Newsletter

Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone’s following you. - Virginia State Treasurer, Henry Gilmer

Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives. - Ted Engstrom

When a general gets too far ahead of his troops, he’s often mistaken for the enemy. - Anon

Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it towards goals of beneficial permanence that fulfills the group’s real needs. - Dr. John Haggai, Lead On!

Experts know what should be done; leaders know what should be done and how to get people to do it. - Quoted in C. Barber, Nehemiah and the Dynamics of Leadership, p. 72.

You can judge leaders by the size of the problems they tackle—people nearly always pick a problem their own size, and ignore or leave to others the bigger or smaller ones. - Anthony Jay, in Bits and Pieces, Sept., 1989

Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives. - Ted Engstrom, in Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 117.

A leader who keeps his ear to the ground allows his rear end to become a target. - Angie Papadakis

You cannot paint the “Mona Lisa” by assigning one dab each to a thousand painters. - William F. Buckley, Jr.

Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Anon

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. - John Maxwell

A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head. - Vance Havner

Leadership in the local church should be determined by spirituality, not notoriety. - Tony Evans

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. - David Russell

It is small wonder where the shepherds hesitate and stumble, that the sheep draw back affrighted.

- Scott Nearing.

The captain of a floundering ship does little good by criticizing the crew to the passengers.

In order to give the illusion of authority, one must make immediate changes. - loose paraphrase of Douglas McArthur

The trouble with being a leader today is that you can’t be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.

One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.

Some sources unknow