Preparing for Leadership

At that time I commanded Joshua: "You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. The LORD will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you." At that time I pleaded with the LORD : "O Sovereign LORD , you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan-that fine hill country and Lebanon." But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. "That is enough," the LORD said. "Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see." So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deuteronomy 3:21-29 NIV)

Moses was not going to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua were the only two adults who were allowed that privilege. God told Moses to commission Joshua to take over. Moses was very close to death when he was finally allowed to look at the Promised Land. God allowed him to go up on a mountain (Pisgah) and look around at the land, but He wouldn't allow Moses to cross the Jordan.

Joshua, by this point, was ready for leadership. He'd been in training for forty years! He had been Moses' assistant, had been right there with him day in and day out, learning how to lead this massive group of people. God had been preparing Joshua for leadership from the day he had been sent to spy out the land the first time. By the time it came time for Joshua to take over the reigns, he was prepared. And the people were prepared to accept his leadership.

We can learn a valuable lesson from this in our own efforts in our churches. Let's look at this in the small scope of a Sunday School class. Every person in your Sunday School class is in preparation for something. Some are in leadership roles which are preparing them for other, larger roles. Some are in service roles which are possibly preparing them for leadership. And some are just there to learn... a way of preparing for service at a later date.

Back in the late 1960’s, a book called The Peter Principle became popular. In case you’re not familiar with it, the book was NOT about Peter in the Bible. Instead, it talked about people being continually promoted and promoted within companies until they reach their level of incompetence. In other words, they do such a good job in a lower position, the assumption is that they can serve in a higher position. When they get into that higher position, they are not able to perform because they’ve gone beyond their level of competence.

This same thing can and does happen in churches all the time. People are pushed (albeit gently, of course) into doing jobs within the church that are beyond their ability – or outside of their ability. For instance, a person who is known to be a good teacher in the children’s ministry is asked (pleaded with) to teach an adult Bible study. Those asking the person to take that teaching role don’t consider the fact that it takes very different skills and talents to teach children than it does to teach adults. As such, that person might shine as a teacher of children, but be totally lost when trying to teach adults. When that happens, the Peter Principle has been applied – the person has been “promoted” to his level of incompetence.

We should be very careful that we don't let our enthusiasm for the Lord rush us into positions for which we're not prepared. Or to shove others into situations for which they're not ready. Remember, the Lord spent forty years training Joshua. We need to allow the Lord time to train us, too.

From Newsong Ministries

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Used with Permission.

Bonnie Ricks