The Spirit has led me to spend some time in Joshua 24 these last few days. I hope to post something soon about some of the gleanings He has granted me, as it has certainly been profitable for my own soul. As I was searching around for other reflections on Joshua’s bold proclamation statement that we all know and love, I came across this article written several years ago by David Horton. I don’t know anything about the man who wrote this, but I thought this was a really good article; it spoke to a lot of what we have discussed in our men’s meetings over the last several months, and much of what we pray for and about on a regular basis. May this exhort and encourage each of us to fulfill the roles that God has called us to in our homes: fathers, husbands, servants, leaders.
As Joshua prepared the children of Israel for the land of Canaan he made it clear that first priority went to those with whom he had immediate and direct control: he and his “house.” Joshua had a family. As concerned as Joshua was about the children of Israel, he knew that he and his family must live by their faith IN GOD, not Israel(the majority). He was willing to stand by his faith against the greatest of odds to serve God. (Numbers 14: 6-10) Remember, he and Caleb were the only two of the spies who said that with God’s help they could take the promised land. He moved with similar spiritual strength before Israel when entering the land. Though not flawless, his lead is an example for all men to learn from and follow. (Hebrews 3: 7-19)
It is clear that Joshua took the lead in his household. There was no outward timidity, hesitation, or question about his role in the family. Inwardly he may often have experienced excruciating agony. Yet, he moved forward with God’s will realizing his first responsibility was for the leading of his family, then the nation. Of course, by viewing the leadership with his family, the nation viewed first hand the type of spiritual leadership they were being offered in Joshua. Does this not remind you about the qualification of elders? (1 Timothy 3) People desperately need solid examples of spiritual leadership. Spiritual leadership is first developed and refined in the home. The training ground for larger spiritual responsibilities originates in a smaller setting. (James 1: 2-4) The problems and solutions faced in the family make or break a man’s progress to larger leadership responsibilities in the Lord’s church. This does not mean, if under a man’s leadership his family spiritually disintegrates, that he cannot be saved or be of use in the Lord. It does, however, profoundly reflect upon that man’s ability to take on a larger leadership role in the Lord’s service. Remember Eli’s family? (1 Samuel 1-4) Men, make sure that if your family spiritually disintegrates, it is not a result of your abandoning your role as a spiritual leader.
Practicing the leadership role invites disdain from some. Joshua took a bold stand to serve the Lord regardless of its popularity. (Numbers 14: 10) By faith, men must take the leadership role even when the spiritual course is unpopular. (Hebrews 11) This calls for tough decision-making. (2 Corinthians 2: 4-6; 1 Corinthians 5: 3-6) However, the man does not have to be mean-spirited about the decision. For the spirit used to lead is as important as the fact that one leads. (Galatians 6: 1) When you make mistakes as a leader it will come back to you in a double portion. Not only will you be challenged regarding the circumstances surrounding the error, but your ability to lead will also be called into question with each and every error. How you handle the mistakes will also prove your leadership. Start in the home. Take the stand to be a spiritual leader. Admit your errors, repent of them, ask for forgiveness, correct them, and move forward.
Move forward in your role as a spiritual leader realizing it is the highest form of service. (Matthew 20: 28; 1 Corinthians 11: 1) By the same token, service is the highest act of leadership. (Philippians 2: 5-13) When you lead by serving others, some will take advantage of you. Some will use your service for their selfish gain, then abandon you in the face of trial. You must face criticism for taking a stand and making a change in your life. You must face others, even of your own house, who will criticize and remind you that you cannot be a spiritual leader because they remember you as you WERE. That is good, in the sense of reminding you of your need to maintain humility while leading. (Romans 12: 3-8) You will be misinterpreted, misquoted, and generally unappreciated for your direction. There are exceptions, of course. You will be appreciated by some and praised by few. Rest your faith in, and draw your spiritual strength from God, not the praise of others.
It does not matter what else you, as a man, accomplish in this life if you fail as a Christian and spiritual leader to your family. If men do not stand up and take the spiritual lead of their house, they may face accompanying each other in Hell. Men have the responsibility (opportunity and God-given ability) to take the lead. (1 Corinthians 11: 1-3; Ephesians 5: 23; 6: 1-4; ) It is too late to correct error, change, and take the spiritual lead only when you or your family has left this life, or you abdicate your life in Christ to Satan! (Luke 16: 27-31; Hebrews 6: 4-8; 2 Peter 2: 20-22) Taking the spiritual lead late in you and your family’s life does not guarantee spiritual success with them, but it does guarantee the greatest ally in the fight to redeem yourself and your family from the forces of Satan.
By David Horton
From Expository Files 5.1; January 1998