A seminary professor once told me “Nothing of consequence happens in the church apart from leadership.” I thought that was a bit hyperbolic. Surely people do not need leaders that badly. Do they?
Well, over a decade of gospel ministry experience and pastoring now confirms my Prof’s pithy prophecy. And so does the Bible. God has ordained leaders to shepherd His people, to teach His people the Scriptures, to cast vision for His people, and to call His people to account.
The crazy sin cycle of Judges (see last post) was due primarily to a leadership failure.
“And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years” (Judges 2:8).
Joshua was the undeniable leader God had ordained for His people to conquer the Promised Land. But Joshua did not just appear out of nowhere! He was identified, raised up, and poured into by Moses (see Num 27:18-23; Deut 1:38; 3:28; 31-34). God ultimately commissioned Joshua to be the new leader, but we dare not neglect the fact that Moses had personally invested in him for over forty years!
But we see no such transfer of leadership with Joshua. He dies. And that’s it. No new leader is introduced, and as far as we can tell, he did not do for another man what Moses had done for him. For all of his battlefield prowess, Joshua was, in the end, a leadership failure. He did not raise up and train a new leader, much less new leaders.
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
This is Leadership Failure #2. And it is even worse than Joshua’s personal failure to pass the baton. The Jewish parents who conquered the land did not obey the Great Shema of Deuteronomy 6: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.”
They did not love the Lord with all their hearts, therefore they did not think it all that important to pour God’s Word into the hearts, minds and lives of their children.
So, pastors and church leaders, how are we doing in training the next generation of leaders? Parents, how are you doing in teaching your children the Word of God? As one well-known preacher has said, “The church is always just one generation away from losing the faith.” May God help us! God strengthen our hands! God embolden our hearts! God give us resolve to love You most, and live for You first. And that will propel us to raise up leaders.
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
“Fathers [parents], do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).