Leadership is a delicate balance. It requires complementary qualities – character with courage, integrity and innovation, virtue plus vision.
Good leaders know how to look backward with gratitude at God’s faithfulness in their lives and commands in His word, while marching forward into new eras with a creative vision for gospel advance.
Ministries do not usually succeed when leaders forget which direction to look and which direction to march. We cannot march according to past strategies nor look to the future for new morals. The former leads to bitter stagnation, while the latter leads to rootless progressivism.
We must honor the past without living in it, but remember that forward motion isn’t always progress.
As Joshua picks up the mantle of leadership in the wake of Moses’ death, God charges him with a deeply encouraging word to lead His people onward: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
“There is no such thing as courage apart from mission,” said well-known pastor Crawford Loritts, while reflecting on this text. God is not afraid His mission will fail. He promises to go with us, offering His boldness along the way.
The following verses described the new leader as he turns to God’s people and calls them to look back on God’s faithfulness: “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’” (Joshua 1:13).
Joshua’s two-directional leadership is a helpful example for ministries today. As we worry about cultural changes, technological advances and the lingering effects of a global pandemic, let us learn to walk with biblical balance.
Reflect on God’s grace in your life and the life of your ministry. Find your morals, virtues and principles in the timeless depths of God’s word. Then launch forward boldly into the future where you will find endless opportunities to serve others and share the gospel.
Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof wrote about this in an article for Lifeway Research last year. “In the church, our message doesn’t change,” Nieuwhof said. “But, as culture changes, you have to figure out how to stay relevant. Your methods must change to preserve the mission.”
Time will move forward. Strategies will shift. New generations will rise. And that’s a good thing, as long as our character is shaped by the word of God and our mission is for His glory among the nations.