When leaders fail to lead, a leadership vacuum follows. And any vacuum will be filled. It might be filled with a culture that turns inwardly looking after its own needs. It can be filled by disparate, divergent, and disagreeing voices. The people of Israel certainly went through that period: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (Judges 21:25). Or the vacuum can be filled with individuals or groups who insert themselves for their own power and agenda.
I am having an amazing time reading through the book of Joshua. My pastor (who happens to be my son, Jess) is also preaching through the early chapters of the book in our church.
I just can’t seem to get enough of Joshua. Among the many reasons Joshua is my favorite biblical character other than Jesus is his uncanny leadership. For example, in Joshua 1, he transitions from becoming Moses’ servant to becoming the leader of Israel. It’s an amazing thing to read.
Joshua was one incredible leader.
We have many incredible leaders in our churches today. But, perhaps more often than we admit, some church leaders stop leading. I have spoken with hundreds, probably thousands, of them over the years. I hear common themes of why they put their leadership in neutral. Here are the five most common reasons:
- They are weary of conflict and criticism. These leaders have died the death of a thousand cuts. They know when they provide real leadership, the critics and naysayers will come out of the woodwork. Some of the leaders have lost their jobs because they led. They thus move into a defensive posture.
- They don’t know how to lead. Joshua had the mentorship of Moses for a generation. He was instructed. He was prepared. He was ready. Many of our church leaders know their Bible. They know theology. But they have never been trained or mentored to lead.