Yesterday, I mentioned that sometimes we experience a specific call to leadership, while other times, we might be in the preparation process without a distinct awareness that leadership is in the works.
Today, I would like revisit our examples of Joshua and David and consider how God used time to make them ready for the leadership roles that He had in store for them. In Joshua’s story, he served Moses as his assistant for decades. During this time, he learned what it meant to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and to look to the Lord for guidance on how to lead Israel. Joshua discovered that a personal relationship with the Lord was of immeasurable worth. He saw the heartbreak of Israel’s rebellion against the Lord and against Moses on several occasions. He witnessed their propensity to complain and turn from God. Joshua and Caleb were the only spies who scouted out Canaan and came back with a report that the Israelites could surely take on their enemies because the Lord would fulfill His promises and be with them in battle. Perhaps one of the things that most encourages me about Joshua’s character is that when Moses was growing old and it was time to appoint a new leader, Joshua didn’t do everything he could to try to be first in line, even after so many years of being Moses’ assistant. That suggests to me that he had learned to trust God to handle things in the very best way and that Joshua wasn’t looking out for his own interests.
David was anointed while Saul was still enthroned. Now Saul was not going to peaceably depart from his position as king. Instead, he pursued David and sought his death. Can you imagine the thoughts and feelings that flew through David’s mind as he considered the disparity between his call and his circumstances? He went from a shepherd to a man to the man who plays music and sings for the king, to a man on the run! The Psalms make it evident for us that this unexpected plot twist contributed to the character David would have by the time he sat on the throne. He would have faced great adversity that required his complete dependence on God for deliverance. He knew what it was like to suffer for doing good. He understood loneliness. He lived the tension of trusting God, but not at all understanding what in the world God was doing.
If you are in a season of waiting and preparation, there are times that this season can be adventuresome and exhilirating. You might be glad and content with it. However, it is just as likely that you will have some moments when you wonder if this time will ever pass and if change will come. The Lord often prepares us using situations, circumstances, people, and issues that would not be our first choice if we were writing the script, but when we hang in there and press on, there are glimpses of light and progress, even through the wilderness or in the midst of battles. God is forging a character in us that will enable us to stand in the trials of leadership when that time comes.
While I was waiting, I endured some discouraging and disheartening times in my life. I made difficult decisions that set me apart and left me lonely, even among Christian peers. The Lord allowed me to come to the end of myself in several places of my life so that I could not hang onto my self-sufficiency and pride. I was pressed to figure out whether I was willing to live what I said I believed when what I could see didn’t suggest that God was working on my behalf. There were a lot of desires and expectations I had to surrender and learn to devote myself to trying to honor Him with what I had, instead of constantly feeling frustrated with the opportunities and resources that were withheld. I discovered things about the Lord that I didn’t know before, but I needed to know if I was going to have a solid foundation.
When you examine your own life, how might the Lord be using blessings and trials to fashion a man or woman after His own heart?