Bravery is required in leadership. Without it, you’ll remain trapped in the land of mediocrity, fenced in by the walls of fear and the gates of regret. But how do you face the uncertainties that surround you when God summons you to lead into the unknown? That’s a question Joshua had to answer when God called him to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River and into the land God had promised to give them.
For Joshua, three uncertainties preceded his bold move. Each one was tied to a difficult reminder of the past.
1. Uncertainty About Himself
Joshua wasn’t a young man full of energy when God called him to cross the Jordan. How do we know this? Because Joshua’s sidekick, Caleb, was 40 years old (Joshua 14:7) when Moses sent them to spy out the Promised Land (and it’s estimated that Joshua was around the same age as Caleb). Add to that another 40 years they spent wandering in the wilderness because of Israel’s unbelief, and it’s likely that Joshua was 80 years old when God issue his call. I can only imagine Joshua saying (or at least thinking) “I’m too old,” or “I’m not Moses.” Joshua undoubtedly second guessed himself. His uncertainty didn’t stop there.
2. Uncertainty About the People
Forty years before this day came (Numbers 13), Moses sent twelve men (one leader from each ancestral tribe) to explore the land of Canaan (The land God had promised to them). Joshua and Caleb were two of the twelve spies. After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses and Aaron with their report. Caleb boldly declared:
“Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” (Numbers 13:30b-31, NLT)
Then the people spread this negative report among all the Israelites. As a result of their disbelief, Israel did not inherit the Promised Land at the time God originally intended. Now imagine, here’s Joshua, 40 years later, and all of those emotions resurface: “What if the people rebel again?” “What if they make the same mistake under my leadership?”
Questioning his own leadership was one hurdle. Questioning the fickle, unpredictable nature of the people was another.
3. Uncertainty About God
When the Israelites rebelled against God, refusing to enter the Promised Land when God intended them to do so, God ordered the people to return to the wilderness. Again, they didn’t obey God, and as a result they were crushed by their enemies. Moses said:
When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord.” (Numbers 14:43, NLT)
The people didn’t listen to Moses, God abandoned them, and they were defeated.
Now fast forward.
Being Brave in the Uncertainty
Here’s Joshua, uncertain about himself, uncertain about the people, and now wondering, “What if God doesn’t go with us?”
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt uncertain about yourself, the people around you, or even God? It was in that moment of uncertainty that Joshua had to make a decision. Will I be brave? Will I boldly cross the Jordan? Or will I retreat to the cul-de-sac of comfort…to that place at the bottom of the sack where nothing happens.
God knew Joshua was facing uncertainty. He knew his past, and the doubts that could resurface from forty years earlier. That’s when God breathed courage into his call:
“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:6).
Bravery wasn’t going to come from Joshua, his past, or his friends. It wasn’t going to come from his experience or his ability. Courage would have to come from outside of himself, and his circumstances. It came from God. A clear, concise, word from God. At first glimpse, God’s affirmation seems fairly simple. But notice the detail:
- STRENGTH: “Be Strong”
- COURAGE: “Be Courageous”
- DESTINY: “You are the one”
- ABILITY: “You will lead these people”
- VICTORY: “You will posses all the land”
- PROMISE: “I swore the land to their ancestors”
Significance drips from every word. “Joshua, you are chosen and I keep my promises.” What a combination. Here’s the certain truth for an uncertain situation: In the midst of uncertainty, God’s Word sustained Joshua. His word infused bravery into Joshua’s soul. His promise gave Joshua the courage and the clarity to jump. When he was uncertain about himself, others, and God, bravery was birthed out of the words of God.
God will do the same for you.
When the situation before you demands bravery, look and listen. Look at his Word. Listen for His voice. What is God saying? What promise is He making? When clouds of uncertainty come rolling in, drop anchor in the waters of His Word. The only way you’ll find bravery when everything about you and everyone around breathes uncertainty, is to look beyond you. To put your hope in something unshakeable. To place your trust in something whose origin is the Spirit of God: God’s Word.
Saturate your heart and mind in God’s Word. Let its authority silence your fear. Let its comfort fill the crevices of your mind where uncertainty hides. Let its truth mop up the anxious thoughts that flood your heart. Let its enduring power put spine in the fragile vision within you. Let its sword cut the scales of doubt from your eyes of faith. Let its promises replace your apprehensions. Let it words displace your worries.
When you’re uncertain about yourself, remember what God’s Word says about you: You’re more than a conqueror. When you’re uncertain about the people around you, remember Him who is faithful. When you’re uncertain about God, just look at his flawless track record. Let His Word guide you. Let His promises comfort you. He’s at work behind the scenes. Look for His shadow. Listen for His whispers.
Like Joshua, God is with you too.