So they [the two spies sent by Joshua] went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab… our lives for your lives (Joshua 2:1,14).  

Moses had forfeited entrance into the promised land because he failed to keep the proper distance between himself and God when he said: “…you rebels, must we bring water out of this rock?” Numbers 20:10. One slip and he was out. Joshua stood on the sidelines and watched his beloved Moses die early.  Then the mantle of leadership fell on him.   

On the eve of the conquest of the Promised Land Joshua sent two spies on a reconnaissance mission into Jericho (Joshua 2).  The next day a hot problem landed on Joshua’s desk when they returned. How distressing! They informed Joshua that they had guaranteed the safety of a harlot and her whole family — the very type of people who were marked for destruction. “How could they do this?” Joshua may have agonized.

It was because of this very type of protocol issue that Moses suffered an early death. Should Joshua stand behind his men or opt for the safety of separating himself from them and leave them directly to God?  As wives are sometimes told  “submission is ducking so God can hit your husband,” maybe Joshua should duck, and let God deal directly with these two spies. Such is the daily stuff of leadership. 

For several reasons, this was a critical judgment call.  (1)  It was his first judgment / leadership decision, so it was leadership-establishment time!  This was precedent-setting territory.   (2) It was unknown to the rank and file of the people, increasing Joshua’s sense of isolation  (While most are asleep, leaders are awake thinking and praying).   (3) Having seen Moses commit “a sin unto [resulting in] death,”  was Joshua concerned about his own life (I John 5:16)?  (4) To side with his men was to go against the declared will of God – according to Deuteronomy 7:1 & 2, these people were marked for destruction.    

Suppose a person with the spiritual rank of private is new to your team. You want to incorporate him, blending his gifts and abilities into the total effort, creating a positive experience of service for the new (likely young) man.  

But the guy does something crazy.  What do you do:  Rebuke him publicly (I Timothy 5:20)?  Support him publicly, but correct him privately?  Separate yourself from this rookie and his sin (Numbers 16:24)?  It would depend on: (1) how crazy, (2) the consequences of his unorthodox actions and (3) his attitudes. 

When a parent comes to a school principal complaining about something a teacher did, what does the principal do? If the principal sides with parents against his teachers very often, he will undermine the unity of his faculty. They may cease to be loyal to the principal, since he has not been loyal to them.     

Though Joshua had watched his beloved Moses suffer an early death, and the spies had no authority to annul God’s direction, Joshua opted to support the two spies, risking God’s wrath.  Joshua supported the team. 

Scripture calls no attention to this potentially explosive leadership problem. But problems are the standard diet of a leader, which is why we need to pray for them. They handle things we do not hear about, even after the fact. 

When you disagree with your leader, talk to him/her privately, mindful of Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1 and I Timothy 5:19. 

Most godly leaders will be open to counsel that is given in a humble manner. The critic – having stated his/her concerns and observations — normally needs to then pray and support that leader publicly. 

Don’t write anonymous letters. If you don’t want to put your name to something, do not send it.  Own your views and confront a given leader and then pray for self-control to keep quiet (unless you are at step two as per Matthew 18:16;  in which case, pray twice as much).  Wise leaders will listen and sometimes change (Proverbs 9:8b & 9). An indication of their godliness is their willingness to listen, change, do something another person’s way and be grateful for such counsel. 

3 thoughts on “Joshua’s Tough Leadership Call

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