Joshua was Moses’ assistant for many years, serving faithfully and learning what it meant to be a godly leader. It was not until Moses grew old that Joshua was officially appointed to lead Israel. I was impressed as I recently read through Joshua’s story that he did not ever seem to grow weary of being the assistant. He was diligent in his service to Moses and followed Moses’ instructions. Unlike some other prominent figures in the Bible, it is not mentioned that Joshua was told in advance that all of this time as Moses’ assistant would one day culminate in Joshua’s opportunity to lead. Along the way, Joshua witnessed Moses’ desire to care for the Israelites in a way that honored God. He saw Moses’ deep relationship with the Lord. He knew of the difficult decisions that sometimes accompany leadership and the loneliness of that role. He learned that for all of Moses’ commitment, wisdom, and effort, it was the Lord that brought about victories in battle, parted the Red Sea, and provided for the Israelites during their desert wanderings.
In contrast, David story begins in a decidedly different manner. The Lord prompts Samuel to cease grieving over Saul and to go to Jesse and anoint the king that He has chosen. Samuel discovers along the way that the Lord has selected the youngest son, a shepherd, who does not have the external appearance of leadership material. About fifteen years pass between this anointment and the time when David takes a seat on the throne as king. This young man carries on his position as the shepherd boy when Samuel departs. What must have gone through his mind after these events? Little did he know all that would transpire before the throne would be vacant. Saul was not going down without a fight!
Sometimes the Lord gives us a clue that leadership is on the horizon and at other times, He is giving us the preparation, but we are unaware. Whatever means the Lord uses, we can rest assured that He is searching the land over for people who are reading His Word, people who are obeying Him, and people who are committing themselves to the tasks that He has laid before them at present.
Like many other lessons in scripture, I think that there is both an encouragement and a warning in the call to leadership. There is encouragement in that God chooses people that are unlikely from man’s point of view. There is hope for some of us who might feel written off by the world’s standards. There is also an exhortation to keep on doing the good work that we are entrusted with today. God knows. He sees.
The warning comes in where our ambition might get the best of us or where we could lose sight of the fact that leadership is a great responsibility and not one to rush into. The Lord will bring about His purposes for your life in His time and by His means. This is always the best course, even if it seems slow or appears that absolutely nothing is happening or changing in your life for a season.
In my own story, I suspect I was feeling the call to lead Bible studies back when I graduated in 2002. There was a restless stirring in me that resurfaced from time to time, even though there was no apparent steps drawing me closer to this opportunity.
Take heart! Some of that time that you might wish you were doing something more meaningful and those experiences that seem mundane and repetitious just could be part of the preparation God has for your future work!