Joshua 1:1-18 by Pastor Dan Walker
Leadership Qualities is our first message in the series Courageous Leadership. In this message, we look at the qualities that God requires in godly leaders from the story of Joshua. Learn the importance of being a leader who is strong and courageous.
Duration:24 mins 23 secs

Today we begin a new message series entitled “Courageous Leadership.” In this series, we’re going to be talking about how to be and grow as a godly leader. Now, some of you may be saying, well, I’m not a leader, so this series is not going to apply to me. My intention is for this series to apply to everyone. 

So, to show why that is going to be true, let’s answer the question “What is a leader?” A leader is someone whom people follow. Pretty simple, right? I believe that God calls every Christian to be a leader. Some may only lead one person at a time, others may lead a dozen and some even hundreds and so on.

Leaders can be either godly or ungodly. A godly leader will lead others closer to God. An ungodly leader will lead others away from God. We want to be people who lead people to Jesus. That is the most important thing that each one of us can do as a leader. To lead another person to Jesus Christ. To be that kind of leader is not an option for a believer, it is God’s command to us.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Let’s get the picture here. Paul is a follower and imitator of Jesus Christ, the ultimate leader. His goal in life is to follow Jesus’ example. Paul instructs his readers, which includes you and me, to be imitators of Paul as he follows Jesus. So, obviously, Paul is a godly leader and people followed his example in his day and still do today.

How does this apply to us? As you and I follow Jesus, we are examples for others to follow in our footsteps. When they do, what does that make us? Leaders. As parents, we are to be examples to and lead our children to follow Jesus. As workers on the job, we are to be examples and lead our co-workers to Jesus. As family members, we are to lead our relatives to Jesus and so on.

Daniel 12:3 (ESV) And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Those who turn many to righteousness are godly leaders. This promise does not just apply to evangelists, but to those who lead their children and others to the Lord. Is it easy to be a leader? No, it’s not. Leaders will be resisted by some, leaders must do new things and leaders must overcome obstacles. A godly leader must lead others in the ways of God and not in the ways of the world. So, every godly leader, which includes all of us, needs courage.

Psalm 31:24 (ESV) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

To be a leader, we must be strong, we must be courageous and we must wait on the Lord. In our series “Courageous Leadership” we are going to look at one of the greatest leaders in the Bible, Joshua. Our message today is entitled “Leadership Qualities.” Let’s watch a short video as introduction called “Joshua – Strong and Courageous.” Today, we’re going to look at three qualities of godly leaders. And we’re going to see how each one of us can grow in these qualities and so be more effective leaders for the Lord.

Godly leaders are called

Deuteronomy 31:23 (ESV) And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”

Moses was the great leader of Israel that led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. Yet, God had informed Moses that he would not lead Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua had been by Moses side all along and had been trained by Moses. Right before Israel entered the Promised Land, the Lord commissioned or called Joshua.

What that means is that godly leaders are not leaders simply because they want to be leaders. Godly leaders are called by God. God speaks to them and calls them to the leadership task that He has for them. In this case, God told Joshua what his leadership task was to be. He was to bring the people of Israel into the land God promised them. The commissioning of Joshua in this verse was in the presence of Moses in the tent of meeting.

Joshua 1:1-2 (ESV) After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.

Moses then died and the Lord reiterated His call to Joshua. You see Joshua was called before Moses died, but it was not yet time for him to assume leadership. Now that Moses had died, it was time for Joshua to begin to lead Israel. God again give Joshua the task that is assigned to him, to lead Israel into the land. Not only are godly leaders called by God, they are also recognized by man.

Deuteronomy 31:7-8 (ESV) Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

In these verses we see Moses recognizing the call of God on Joshua in front of all Israel. In the call of God and the recognition of Moses, we see and will see the phase “Be strong and courageous” over and over again. God’s calling of a leader must be recognized by those in authority over them. Every leader must be under the authority of another leader or group of leaders. This principle is taught throughout Scripture. Godly leaders are called.

Probably none of us is being called by God to lead a nation. Yet, we want to take the leadership principles here and apply them to our lives today. Generally speaking, the call of God comes to an individual first and then the recognition by others in authority comes second. Oftentimes the call of God may come some time before, even years before, a person steps into or is recognized as a leader. Those who are faithful in leading one or a few are often given more responsibility to lead more. 

How is God calling you to be a leader in your life? God calls believers to be leaders in every area of life, not just in spiritual matters. There will be those who are called to be leaders of others at work. Be faithful in serving those in authority and you will be given more responsibility in leading others. Sometimes, God calls people to be leaders and instructs them on how to train for a future leadership assignment.

Not only does God call believers to be leaders at work, but also leaders at home and leaders at church. Every person who serves as a teacher in our children’s ministry is a leader. Every person who invites another person to church is a leader. Every person who takes charge of some aspect of church ministry is a leader. Serve well where God has called you. Not only are godly leaders called …

Godly leaders are courageous

Joshua 1:5 (ESV) No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, the Lord speaks to Joshua and gives him instructions on how to be a godly leader. These instructions have important principles to apply to each one of us, as God is calling us to be leaders in our own lives. When God calls you to be a leader, He is going to be with you. The Lord is going to be there to guide you and answer your questions about how to lead.

Joshua 1:6 (ESV) Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

Every leader must be strong and courageous. Why? Because we tend to be weak and cowardly. The natural tendency of people is to just follow the crowd. The crowd is always going in the wrong direction. Leaders who are strong and courageous go against the flow and lead others in the right direction. God reiterates what Joshua’s leadership purpose is and His promise to Israel.

Joshua 1:7 (ESV) Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

Now, God’s guidance to Joshua gets more specific. Again, he repeats the command to be strong and courageous. God is not saying that He chose Joshua because He was strong and courageous. God is commanding him to be and continue to be strong and courageous. This is something that Joshua and each one of us can be, with the Lord’s help. The first key for Joshua as a leader was to recognize that God is with him. The second key is that God had a plan and promise for him. Now, we see the third key, which is God’s Word that must be followed and obeyed. As Joshua followed God’s Word, he would have success.

Joshua 1:8 (ESV) This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

God’s Word was to be read, spoken and meditated on continually. Why? So, that Joshua could put it into practice, so that he could do it. The Bible does not exist so much to be read, although that is necessary, it exists so that it can be done. The promise again is of prosperity and success. God concludes this section of instruction to Joshua in …

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

In this final exhortation, God repeats the command “be strong and courageous” for the third time in these few verses. The opposite of that command is prohibited in the next sentence. Joshua was not to be in fear or dismay. Again, this means that these character qualities or attitudes are controllable by each leader. How can we control our attitudes? We can control them because God is with us wherever we go to guide and help us. 

So, we see in this section, three things that God gave Joshua so that he could be strong and courageous. God gives us the same three things. God gives us His presence through the Holy Spirit, His promises to believe in and His Word to obey. 

Let’s think a little more deeply about how God calls us to be courageous today. Whenever we go through a difficult time in our lives, we have the opportunity to be courageous. What comes easily is fear, anxiety and discouragement. Difficult situations that each of us face from time to time are relationship issues, financial issues, health issues, job issues and so on. Oftentimes, we are leaders, even when we think that no one is following. People around, whether in your family, church or workplace notice had you handle difficult circumstances. Most people aren’t strong and courageous. When you rely on God through prayer and His Word and are strong and courageous, people notice. You are being a leader. God will give you opportunities to share where your strength and courage comes from to those who are watching. Godly leaders are courageous.

Godly leaders are followed

Joshua 1:10-11 (ESV) And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’”

God has called Joshua, he has instructed him and now it’s time for action. Joshua must now begin to lead the nation of Israel, so he begins to give instructions. Notice that even with his first command, he is telling people the goal and the promise of God, to possess the promised land. God showed Joshua what to do and he communicated it to the people of Israel.

Joshua 1:12-13 (ESV) And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’

These three tribes had made an agreement with Moses that they would inherit land on the east side of the Jordan river, which is where they were living. The agreement was that they were to go over with the rest of the tribes to help conquer the promised land. Only when all the tribes had their inheritance would the warriors of these  three tribes be able to come to their home. Joshua is then reminding and holding these tribes accountable to their promise. Godly leaders point the way forward.

Joshua 1:16, 18 (ESV) And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. … Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

The three tribes respond to Joshua’s commands and commit to following him as their leader. Now even these three tribes remind Joshua to be strong and courageous. The phrase has now been repeated four times in the first chapter of Joshua. The people who are following Joshua’s leadership are learning the importance of being strong and courageous for themselves. Godly leaders set the standard that others are to follow.

Godly leaders whom people follow set an example for others. Their example is set both in the words that they speak and the actions that they do. Both words and actions must be consistent to gain credibility and to have others desire to follow your example. Of course, when someone’s actions are not consistent with their words, people judge them as hypocrites.

As believers, wherever we go, we ought to let others know that we are Christians. There are many ways to do that. If you are strong and courageous, you will do things differently than those who are not believers. Perhaps you bow your head at lunch time for prayer when others are around. When you’re talking to someone else about what you did over the weekend, you mention what you learned in church. If someone is having a difficulty in life, you offer to pray for them. When someone has an issue or you are trying to solve a problem, you bring in a biblical principle to the discussion.

Now, once people begin to realize that you are a believer and you’re not afraid to let other know, they will watch you, closely. That’s when your actions need to line up with your words. Since none of us is perfect, that will also involve saying sorry or asking for forgiveness when we do mess up. Godly leaders are followed and make a difference in our world as they are strong and courageous.

Today, we’ve begun to look at the example of Joshua as a godly leader to learn from. Godly leaders are called to the places that God desires them to lead. You don’t have to have a vision to be called as a leader. God calls each one of us to be leaders through His Word. Godly leaders are not paralyzed by fear or what others may think of them. They choose to be strong and courageous as God helps them.

Finally, Godly leaders set an example for others to follow. Both in their words and their actions. Our city and indeed our country need many more godly leaders who are not afraid to stand up for the truth. May God help each one of us grow to be the leaders that God created us to be.