Being a great spiritual leader requires us to be great followers, chasing after the heart of God and having His mind in us. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know to be true.
As I move into the new year, I have renewed the spiritual discipline of intentional Scripture memory. Like many things now, there’s even an app for that! My first verse of the year was Joshua 1:8. When reading this passage, I tend to focus on verses like 6, 7, and 9. Be strong and courageous. I have read (or read over) verse 8 multiple times, of course. But to be reminded of what I already knew? That has been influential.
So why the significance of verse 8?
“This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” Joshua 1:8
The importance of obedience to God in a spiritual leader’s life cannot be denied. Spiritual disciplines must be practiced daily in consistent, evident ways.
In the first chapter of Joshua we see the baton of leading the nation of Israel into the promised land passing from Moses to Joshua. Moses was not allowed to lead the people into the promised land. Why? Disobedience.
In chapter one, God gives Joshua the repeated charge “be strong and courageous.” Placed in the middle of these repetitions is the reminder to be obedient to God’s Word, to know God’s Word.
Spiritual leaders are obedient to God’s Word. It was disobedience to God, not a failed leadership strategy, that caused Moses to miss seeing God’s promised land. How many times do we as pastors and church leaders value the right strategy over consistent spiritual disciplines?
Strategy and planning are essential to good leadership, but obedience and practicing God’s Word trump everything. It is interesting that God talks about success in this text. In these verses (and throughout the whole of Scripture), God does not argue a prosperity Gospel. “Success and prosperity come when a person follows God’s will, obeys God’s Word, and achieves God’s goal, not when the offerings are greater this year than they were last year at this time.” Kenneth Gangel
God is telling Joshua that even more important than leading His people, Joshua is to lead himself well. The hardest person to lead is yourself, especially in the area of personal spiritual disciplines.
“The first part of your ministry, you lead out of what you can do; the second, out of who you are.” Dan Webster
Three Reminders for Spiritual Leaders about What They Already Know:
- Do what the Bible says- “Do not turn from the right or the left.”
- Speak the Scripture truths- “Must not depart from your lips.”
- Repeat the Scripture to yourself- “Meditate on it day and night.”
How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”