On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. (Joshua 4:14 ESV)
Tens of thousands had just crossed crossed over the mighty Jordan river without floatation devices. They strolled across the miraculously dry river bed without a drop of water clinging to their feet.
Oh yeah, and the river just happened to be at flood stage. Which means that at some points, the river had swollen from 100 feet wide to 2,500 feet wide (source).
It’s also eerily reminiscent of another miraculous water crossing (Hint: It’s the Red Sea crossing in Exodus 14).
So not only was this crossing of the Jordan significant because God’s power was on display, it was also symbolic of his authority being conferred from Moses to Joshua as Israel’s leader.
Our text tells us that God “exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.”
As a leader, this was a good first day. But notice a few things here:
- God exalted Joshua in front of the people. There was no hint of self-promotion here. No flicker of that desperate need for approval, acceptance, and adulation that plagues so many of us.
- Effective—and God-honoring—leadership isn’t about being the smartest person in the room. Rather, it’s about being the person who gets with God. The person who says what God tells them to. Who leads people to where the Spirit is leading them.
- Being the kind of leader that leads God’s people to great places is less about personal attributes than it does personal commitment. After all, Jesus modeled this perfectly by only doing and saying what the Father did and said.
Unfortunately, this is not how I’ve often approached it.
I always want to dazzle. I want to be the cleverest person in the room. I want to be eloquent, fresh, and profound.
My pride purrs like a kitten when I get to be the guy who tackles a text from a different angle than people have heard before.
In fact, there’s this satisfying moment I remember after preaching through the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. A New Testament professor came up to me afterwards and told me, “Wow. I’ve never heard this passage taught that way.”
I LOVED that… Too much, I’m afraid.
But when I take a step back and think about it, I’ve been the most effective when I’ve simply done and said what God’s told me to do and to say.
The crux of Biblical leadership seems to be this: We’re most effective when we do and say exactly what the Holy Spirit leads us to. Because ultimately, he’s always going to point people to Jesus and God’s glory, which is exactly who we all need.
We need Jesus. We need to submit to his Lordship. To follow him on the cruciform path. We were made to run after him with wild abandon.