In the sight of all Israel, Moses charged Joshua to be strong and courageous as he leads the people into the land God has promised. So far so good, but then Moses explicitly states why Joshua should be strong. Surprisingly, it’s not because he’s an effervescent leader, smart, or because he’s been trained by the best. Instead, it’s because the Lord goes before him, and the Lord will be with him (Deut. 31:7–8).
Leadership. Everybody has opinions on it. Countless books have been written full of tips, hacks, and the path to becoming a great leader. The word brings to mind visions of boardrooms, CEOs, or marketing salesmen eating up tips to win those friends and influence as many people as possible.
For the everyday person, advice on leadership may feel reserved for pastors, bosses, and elders alone. Yet the word “lead” can have a much broader definition. Surely we can lead within formal organizations and offices, but we also lead by simply guiding.
The church is full of such leaders. Parents guide their children as they train their minds and direct their hearts. Brothers in Christ take turns drawing each other toward the works of the Lord. Mentors meet each week in an effort to lead their sisters to the feet of Jesus.
We all need lessons in the spheres of leadership, but we need much more than mere tricks and hacks. Scripture passages containing directives to shepherds of the church might come to mind as resources, yet have you ever taken a look at Deuteronomy?
While many truths can be gleaned from this incredible book, Deuteronomy communicates three main lessons of leadership that are not merely for pastors, business leaders, or politicians but for all of us.
1. Leaders Steep Their Followers in the Past
One of the most striking realities of Deuteronomy is how much the text prioritizes the past. Before renewing the covenant to the people of Israel, Moses reminds them of their history. He told them to not forget “how the Lord took care of you” (Deut. 8:11). He beckoned them to remember the judgment God poured out upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians that enabled their redemption (Duet. 7:17). He reinstated the truth of YAHWEH’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with their fathers (Deut. 7:9, 9:5).