Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:7 & 8
If this were any other situation, I’m sure Joshua would have been crushed under the weight of following in the footsteps of Moses. Leadership transitions like this are rarely clean. In fact, they can be quite messy.
We see it in the sports world all the time. What’s the first thing people are going to say when Andrew Luck doesn’t complete a pass to a wide-open receiver?
Manning would’ve made that throw.
What was said about Mike Davis during his tenure at IU?
He can’t coach. His success is all because of his predecessor.
Maybe both of those things are true. But it’s also easy to put unrealistic expectations on the successor when the previous leadership had even a modicum of success. It doesn’t really matter how the new leader receives the baton – it could have been given to him by force or handed over graciously – there is always a bit of uneasiness when it comes to leadership transition.
That’s why I love what Moses did here. In front of God and everyone, he proclaimed Joshua the new leader. It didn’t need to be put to a vote. It wasn’t up for discussion. It was declared, “God has chosen Joshua. God is personally leading him. Follow him and God will bring you victory.” Then he got out of the way and Joshua was allowed to lead.
How many times do we really see this in real-life situations? It definitely isn’t during presidential elections. We pride ourselves on having a peaceful transition of power, having done it for 230+ years, but the outgoing administration rarely encourages a smooth transition.
And how many smooth transitions have you seen in church leadership? Off the top of my head, I cannot think of one. Maybe we need to look to this example of Moses and Joshua more than the examples set in our political and business lives.
Just a thought.