This one’s for the discouraged leader!
If you’ve never led major transition in a church you’re missing something. Granted, a lot of what you’re missing are the kind of things that keep people from leading change; scars, sleepless nights, headaches, the joy of reading nasty emails, and occasional chest pain. But there’s much more to it than that. Consider this moment with Joshua.
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" 14 "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" 15 The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
In the next few verses the commander will give Joshua the intended message, but for now, live right here in verses 13-15. I believe this comes in the midst of yet another long, dark, night of the soul for a leader of God’s people. Perhaps Joshua was on a walk, late at night, pondering, worrying, thinking, trying to unpack what in the world he was going to do about the armed forces and armored walls of Jericho. If you’ve had a night when you couldn’t sleep because of the dread of the next day, if you’ve ever just wanted to stay in bed, more comfortable with the monsters under the bed than the ones at the office, if you’ve ever stood in the shower for an hour because you didn’t want to face what lay on the other side of the curtain, I think you can identify with Joshua.
God met Joshua, and God will meet you. It’s a bit sobering when you consider the angels’ answer to the question, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” His answer is, “Neither.” We must remember God’s not on our side. It’s our job to be on God’s side. Make sure you are. Make sure your priorities for battle are God’s priorities. Make sure the fight you’re fighting is about advancing the Kingdom, not your career path. Make sure it’s about reaching lost people, and equipping the saints for service. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the opposite side of the angel and that’s not a good place to be. You will make mistakes, you will regret some decisions, it’s the nature of true leadership, but if your heart is right you can rest assured, God’s got this. He’ll guide you.
If you have honestly sought God’s guidance, if you are where you are because God called you there, if you’re fighting, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “the good fight,” then be encouraged and blessed. (This is my favorite part.) The place where you are standing is “holy ground.”
Smile, wearied leader, you’ve led your people to the brink of a great victory. Hold your head up and listen closely, this ground is holy and the message you are about to receive is powerful! Don’t let the darkness of the night or the dread of the day steal the joy of the Lord! It’s already won. You’re role is to listen and lead. God is faithful and the ground is holy. It’s an honor to be where you are. Most won’t go where you’ve gone or do what you’ve done. Hang in there. You’ve got a front row seat for a breakthrough!