Too often, we foolishly place our confidence in earthly leaders. We are sure that children will grow to love the Lord if their parents are sufficiently diligent. Some women are absolutely certain their life will stabilize as they find that man who will lovingly lead them for the rest of their days. There are church boards and bodies who cannot imagine how they could thrive without their current minister; he is their rock-star, their “Moses” of sorts. Then there are others churches equally certain a new man is that which is necessary for God to move and shake in their midst. Yes, too often we place our confidence in earthly leadership. We are like football, basketball, and baseball executives who are absolutely sure we will soon be breaking out the champagne and singing “We are the Champions” if we can only secure the indispensable head-coach or franchise player.
However, while the Bible does make much of leadership, the pages of scripture tell the story of a God that utilizes short-term leaders, long-term leaders, young leaders, old leaders, male leaders, female leaders, bold leaders, fearful leaders, ordained leaders, non-ordained leaders, good leaders, and bad leaders. Yes, as the history of God’s dealings with mankind is reviewed, it becomes more and more clear that ultimate importance should be placed not on the man of God, but on the God behind the man.
Take a moment and read the following passage from Joshua 1:1-9:
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
For forty years Moses had heard the voice of God, seen the glory of God, received the word of God, and ministered in the power of God. He was the leader who had rescued a nation of slaves from the most powerful empire on earth. Under his watch the Red Sea had been divided and dried, manna and quail had been received from heaven, and water had flowed forth from a rock. The Shekinah Glory of God visited him in the desert, on the mountain, and inside the tent. Moses was the special one. He was the leader. He was the man, and he was indispensable and irreplaceable. But now, Moses was dead.
However, God told Joshua to arise, go, and proceed. He was to walk, war, and worship. And in all he did, Joshua was to be obedient, strong, and courageous. Moses was dead, but God was not, and all needed to remember that importance was not to be placed on the man of God but on the God behind the man. Hear again the words of God:
Proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them …
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you,
As I promised to Moses.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;
I will not fail you or forsake you …
You shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them …
I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Therefore leaders, take yourself less seriously and God more seriously. You have no inherent power, and God has nothing but unlimited power. Be humble and radically bold. Be realistic and incredibly optimistic. You are not ultimately responsible for success in your marriage, family, business, or ecclesiastical institution. God does not need a Moses. He does not need a Joshua. He does not need a leader. He needs nothing! However, he often uses humble leaders who receive the Word, believe the Word, obey the Word, and walk forth with strength and courage. And always remember that when God is done with you, he is not done. His kingdom was fine before you; it will be fine when you are gone. Why is this? It is because great importance should not be placed on the man of God but on the God behind the man.
And followers, a word of wisdom for you from Psalm 146:3-5, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” Moses is not so important when one understands the Most High God. Joshua is not such a big deal in comparison to the Jesus walking before him. Your earthly husband pales in significance to your Holy Groom. What is a new CEO in comparison to Christ? Your pastor is not so vital; your Priest in heaven is essential. Friends, put your faith and hope for marital, familial, business, and institutional success, not in man, but in the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, always-present, always-working, never-changing, decreeing, directing, and oath-keeping God. Sure, pick your leaders well. Pray for your leaders often. Point them to the scriptures that you might be wisely led. Follow your leaders and make it easy for them to love you. Forgive your leaders, for they are frail and fallen sinners in a plethora of ways. But at the end of every day, every week, and every year, remember that your man of God is far less important than the God behind the man. It is God who grants success. It is God who builds healthy marriages. It is God who grants healthy covenant children. It is God who gives business and institutional success. Church health and church growth are ultimately God’s business. He is the one who decrees and directs all things. He is the Leader behind your leader.