In the meantime…what we do while we wait

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?


Call to leadership

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!