Jump Start # 2467
Joshua 1:2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”
Moses was dead. However, the mission wasn’t over. Israel had not reached the promise land. There was still more to be done. Joshua was now the new leader. He would take over after Moses. It is interesting that it appears that Joshua was being groomed or mentored for this role for a long time. He was with Moses several times on the mountain. He saw and learned from Moses. Now, the journey for Moses was over. It was time for Joshua to take over the helm and lead Israel into the new land. Interestingly, God didn’t open the door for other possible candidates for the position. God doesn’t interview others or have others submit resumes. There was no campaign, nor a vote taken by Israel. God decided and it was to be Joshua.
There are several layers of lessons in all of this but I want to focus upon a couple.
First, the work of God is much greater than any one of us. Moses died. For forty years it had been Moses. Everyday when Israel woke up, Moses was there. It was Moses before Pharaoh. It was Moses and the ten plagues. It was Moses and the Ten Commandments. It was Moses and the Red Sea. It’s hard to imagine life without Moses, but there would be such. In the New Testament, one by one the apostles died. How would the work go on without them? It would. And, for us today, the work is greater than any one of us. Elders come and go. Preachers come and go. Some retire and move away. Some just move. Some get too old to be functional. Some die. But the work of the Lord must go on.
Second, it is essential and very important to share, teach and train others to follow. Let me share a story that happened this summer. I love restoration history. Through connections I was able to visit an old church building that is still being used by one of the oldest existing churches in this state. There is an even older church building that is owned by the folks that had the building I was visiting. I asked if I could get inside the really old building. Several phone calls were made. This one was called. And then that was called. No one was really sure who had the keys. They are still trying to chase down who has the keys so I can get into that old church building.
Here’s the point. Are the passwords to the church’s website, the codes for the alarm, the keys to the building all in such a place that more than one person knows these things? If someone died suddenly, would anyone else know how to keep things going? Sometimes in matters like this, congregations are not on the ball very much. They operate like the dark ages. Important info ought to be kept in file cabinet and others know that.
The example of Joshua shows us that we ought to include others, teach other and train others how to do things that keep the church functional. I have heard of all kinds of horror stories such as the person who always takes care of the communion passes away and it’s Sunday morning and no one even knows what to do. I’ve heard of visiting preachers showing up to begin a meeting and the person who always kept that information moved away and forgot to tell anyone. No one knew that a meeting was scheduled. I’ve known of a place where the preacher made all the arrangements about the copy machine. He moved. No one knew if the church owned the copy machine or if it was leased. No one knew where any of the papers were kept or if they were kept.
I have heard of families having to dig through desk drawers and shoe boxes after a death, looking for important papers and life insurance. The person who died never told anyone where he kept those files. The family panics and gets frustrated because of such disorganized mess. Yet, congregationally, often it’s even worse. At home, in an old elder’s basement are papers concerning the church. Important papers. No one knew they were there.
I have seen many times that when a preacher moves, there is no weekly bulletin until the next preacher moves in. No one knows how to use the copy machine. No one knows where the paper is. No one knows. And, with that we must ask, is that any way to conduct the Lord’s business. Why is it that no one knows?
So, the person who takes care of the website, ought to find some capable people and show them what he does. He ought to write out what he does and keep it in a notebook that is kept at the church building. Others ought to know where keys are kept, what the passwords are, and where to find the things necessary to keep the work moving.
All those years Joshua was tagging along Moses, he was being shown and trained. He may not have know it, but he was. The same goes for David. When we first meet him, he’s a teenager out in the fields watching the sheep. How does one go from that to running a kingdom? He didn’t know about armies, foreign policy and how to lead people. Yet, what took place? After Goliath, David’s harp playing put him in the palace before the king. There he saw. There he learned. There he witnessed the running of a kingdom. When the time was right and David was ready, he was ready to lead God’s people.
Who will be the next shepherds in the congregation? They may not even know it yet, but by spending time with the current shepherds, they can be mentored, taught and shown how to lead the people of God. Moses to Joshua and the kingdom never skipped a beat. It ought to be that way today in our congregations. It takes good communication, transparency, legacy and developing others for that to happen.
I’m sure Israel missed Moses. However, they weren’t stopped, crippled or defeated because he was no longer with them. They marched on because God was still with them. And, the same will be true of us. The church is greater than any of us. It will move on fine after we are finished here.
Keep great records about how things operate. Store them properly. Share the location with certain ones. Be looking for your Joshua.