At Work

“Be Strong and Courageous”: Two Key Ingredients for Effective, Biblical Leadership

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Every leader has moments of intense loneliness and fear. Consider the example of Joshua.

Joshua was one of the great leaders in Jewish history. He began as an aid-de-camp with Moses, and when Moses died it was Joshua who was appointed to lead the nation into the Promised land.

Joshua is nearly sixty years old. He’s no unseasoned youthful boy plucked out of obscurity. He’s been in training with Moses for more than forty years. He had witnessed the plagues against Egypt, and miracle after miracle during the exodus and wandering in the wilderness. Joshua stood outside the tent while Moses met face to face with the Lord (see Exodus 33:11).

Yet Joshua needed a significant amount of encouragement.

First, Moses encourages the whole nation:

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6, emphasis added)

Then Moses addresses Joshua:

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. (Deuteronomy 31:7-8, emphasis added)

Then God speaks to Joshua:

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.” (Deuteronomy 31:23, emphasis added)

After Moses blesses Israel and dies, the Lord again encourages Joshua:

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 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… 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. (Joshua 1:6-9, emphasis added)

Joshua organizes the people to move forward, and the people respond:

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:16-18, emphasis added)

That’s five times Joshua heard “Be strong and courageous.”

Five times he was reminded that the Lord would be with him.

If Joshua needed encouragement to be strong and courageous, so will you and I.

If Joshua benefited from reminders of God’s faithfulness, so will you and I.

Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the US Senate, said, “It is as important to be reminded as it is to be informed.”

I know you sometimes feel terribly alone. You may be fearful. This is not a surprise to God. You are in good company.

Be encouraged from these insights about Joshua. You stand in the company of leaders throughout history who needed encouragement and reminders. Be strong and courageous because God is with you.

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