A few months ago I had the privilege of leading a study for about 20 young men and women who are in their teen years. I benefited greatly from that time and I look forward to doing that again soon.
During that I used the life of Joshua as an example of what it means to be a Godly leader. Of course, there were many characteristics of his life that I did not include, but there were six characteristics that I notice that really attracted my attention. If someone were to ask me to provide necessary characteristics of a Godly leader, these are the things that I would list.
1) A Godly Leader Spends Much Time with the Lord
I suppose that from the very first time I read Exodus 33:11, it was forever riveted in my mind. “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” I suspect that one of the reasons that we know today about Joshua’s leadership and ministry is because of the time that he spent with the Lord when he was young. That’s what Godly leaders do; they spent much time with the Lord. 2) A Godly Leader Takes God’s Calling Seriously
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you…” (Josh. 1:7). Godly leaders simply don’t play. They take their calling from the Lord very seriously. They work and labor even to the point of exhaustion (cf. Col. 1:28-29).
3) A Godly Leader is Not Easily Distracted, Dissuaded, or Discouraged
Of course there were many opportunities for Joshua to be distracted and discouraged in his work. Think of the things that he witnessed? The continual rebellion of the people. The fearfulness of the people as they waited just outside of Canaan. The heartache after the first battle of Ai. But one thing that I see in Joshua and have observed through nearly 2 decades of ministry is that Godly leaders are tenacious. Having attended Liberty University, I had many opportunities to hear Dr. Jerry Falwell say, “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.”
4) A Godly Leader Fears God Above All Else
There are many things to fear for the Godly leader. It is a constant struggle to hold love for God and love for man in a gentle balance. Opposition seems to come from every side, angle, and source. If its not a wall in front of you, its someone in the camp hiding idols. If its not an enemy army, its your own friends standing in the way. In Joshua 5:13-15 there is that great reminder of the fact that the Lord doesn’t take sides, He takes over! And if you are going to be a Godly leader you must fear Him above everything else.
5) A Godly Leader is Committed to the Word of God
“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel…” (Josh. 8:35). I’ve heard hundreds and hundreds of sermons throughout my life. One sermon that I’ve never forgotten was preached about 18 years ago by Vernon Brewer. He asked for us to stand in order to honor God through the reading of His Word. And then he read Joshua 1:8, prayed again and pronounced the benediction. “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.” That was the only absolutely perfect sermon that I ever heard!
6) A Godly Leader Reminds others of God’s Graciousness
Read the last few chapters of the book of Joshua (from 21-24) and you’ll find an old man reminding the others of the graciousness of God to them. By my count, Joshua referred to the work of the LORD for His people 19 separate times in 24:1-13 alone. So much so that it could be said, that ” Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel” (Josh. 24:31).
These indeed are the marks of a Godly leader. Come to think of it these are the marks of the people that I want to be alongside of me in life and ministry. May the Lord give us leaders and servants, friends and coworkers like this. Praise the Lord for those that are and have been a part of my life and may there be even more!