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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The courage to lead

As I spend my time preparing to lead my family somewhere I don't even know, I find myself spending a lot more time alone with the Lord in prayer. As I do I am refreshed, renewed with vision, and empowered by courage. As I contemplate about my own journey of leading courageously I have to stop and reflect on other great men of faith who also had to spend time in the presence of God for their courage.

I think about Joshua who was preparing to take over for Moses. Moses did great and mighty things as God's leader over the Israelites and, though Joshua was Moses' young assistant I can imagine how Joshua must have been feeling. Am I good enough? Will these people follow me like they did Moses? Well, God made sure that Joshua knew this was his mission to fulfill and that He would be with Joshua as He was with Moses. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). A couple observations from this passage. One was that God referred to himself as the Lord of Joshua. He said, the Lord, your God is with you. It wasn't the God of Moses that was asking him to lead. It was the God that he knew and loved. The second thing was the first question God asked him, Have I not commanded you? In other words, God is affirming Joshua of his call. It was God who chose him, appointed him for this task, and it is God who will do great things through him. That is a great reminder to me in this time as well. God is directing me, and it is not I who am ultimately responsible to make sure that my family is taken care of, that our needs are met, and that ministry happens. God has commanded us, therefore, He will provide us with opportunities to serve and the resources necessary to do so.

I think About David, who's courage to fight Goliath came from his experience with God. David was a worshipper. He spent time inventing ways to worship God. Look at what he says in 1 Samuel 17: "But David said to Saul, "your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me I siezed it by it's hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear, this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defiled the armies of the living God." (1 Samuel 16:34-36) I love that passage of scripture. David was motivated by courage to defend the name and honor of God. He was ready to protect the flock of his father, and to remove any threat that sought to harm them. His courage came from spending time in God's presence.

I am also reminded of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed for so long that Jesus' disciples kept falling asleep. He knew the assignment that was ahead for him. He knew that he was about to be betrayed, mistreated, abandoned and ultimately forsaken by God himself. In his humanity he pleaded with His father. "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus prayed to His father for the courage to face what he was about to face.

So as I prepare to take this journey, I too have to spend time everyday in the presence of my Heavenly Father. As often as I need reassurance, He is quick to give it to me. As often as I need to sit with Him and deepen my dependence on Him, He welcomes me and gives me wisdom and insight. And, as I know I have a wife and three children who look to me to lead them, and the pressure I feel to make sure they are taken care of, the more I am dependent upon the Lord, MY God to be my strength. As Joshua was getting ready to lead his people into the Promised land, he told them that they were going somewhere that they had never been before. Then he instructed them to follow the priests who were carrying the arc of the covenant. This was symbollic of God's presence among them. In other words, since you don't know where you are about to go, follow the presence of God. As a Christian every journey or assignment set before us by God must start by spending time in His presence. For spending time with the Lord is where courage is birthed.

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