I have always been drawn to stories about leadership in the Bible. One of my favorites is the Old Testament story of Joshua. Joshua gets his own Bible book named after him, so we know he must be important, and the first chapter of that book finds Joshua about to take over the reigns of leadership of God’s people and get them to the Promised Land. Joshua 1 is a great passage of scripture for any of us who ever find ourselves facing a daunting task in life… Be Strong and Courageous is the advice we read from the Lord over and over in this great chapter.
Now obviously, getting that kind of encouragement from the Lord would help, but as a leader myself, I know that Joshua must have taken relief in the fact that the people he was leading had been taught well and lead well. Furthermore, Joshua had been trained for his position by his predecessor – Moses.
Moses, we know, was great leader. It was his job to get God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and organized as a nation so they could proceed towards the ultimate goal of settling in Canaan. It’s interesting to see that Moses never makes Canaan himself. He’s not the one who leads the people across the Jordan River and into the land flowing with milk and honey. But, in the end, he’s just as important and vital to the story as Joshua. Without the preparation and leadership of Moses, Joshua’s ultimate leadership success would never have happened. Metaphorically speaking, it was as if Joshua was standing on Moses’ shoulders as he lead Israel across the river into their promised land. This story has many fascinating perspectives and truths, but to me the one that sticks out perhaps the most is the generational hand off of leadership that takes place between these two men.
I can relate…
Tomorrow, here at New Life, we are hosting a community event to honor the ministry and legacy of Pastor Phil and Faith Shaw. Rachelle and I have been the pastors here at New Life for three and a half weeks now and it has been wonderful. But I can’t help but wonder if Joshua in some way felt like I do as I stand out on our property and survey the city that God has called us to reach. I take comfort in the voice of the Holy Spirit inside of me saying, “Be Strong and Courageous.” But I also am strengthened by the Godly legacy of ministry and leadership that I am following in the Shaw’s.
Jesus tells us that we judge a tree by it’s fruit. The metaphor is used to teach us a kingdom principle about the quality of a person’s life. I have not had the privilege of knowing the Shaw’s prior to coming to New Life. But, I can see the enormous amount of fruit that their ministry has produced and the enormous foundation that has been laid in the founding of this church. It is everywhere…from the building, the land, the cross tower and KNLW. But the greatest living testimony to the faithfulness of this dear couple is in the people that have reaped the benefits of their ministry. The maturity, the dedication to building the kingdom that exists in so many and most importantly the love that exists for God and each other stand as pillars erected through years of faithful service and dedication to this church. These are pillars that I now have the privilege of standing on as we move forward. If Joshua stood on the legacy of Moses as he lead Israel, I now stand on the great legacy of Pastor Phil and Faith. Every soul that is one, every marriage that is saved, every life that is transformed will be credited directly back to their faithfulness and their dedication to the call of God. I take great courage from the fact that someone great has gone before me. The foundation has been laid and it is solid. I stand now with many of you who wish to honor and thank your pastors for the incredible work that they have done. And Rachelle and I both say to Pastor Shaw and to Faith very simply, “Thank You.”