The Joshua Problem

"Service for others becomes fuel for us to be there."  It was a profound moment of clarity.  I was sitting around a table with a handful of young adults when conversation turned reflective and deep.  One shared her honest desire to reconnect with church, but admitted that the spectator, seat-filling role wasn't very motivating.  Others nodded and chimed in.  Making an impact, being entrusted with responsibility, serving a purpose.  Sure these young adults desire togetherness and connection like the rest of us, but I realized that...

...beyond the social dynamic is the significance dynamic -- I'll go where I can make a difference.


Are we missing something?

Earlier this week I heard a leadership vlog that caught my attention:  Beware of "the Joshua Problem."  Think about this.  Moses was arguably one of the greatest leaders in biblical history and throughout history in general for several reasons.  Among those reasons I would count his intentionality to share leadership.  His utmost humility (Num. 12:3) kept him from grasping for authority and empowered him to make room for others in leadership.  Remember how quick Moses was to delegate power after Jethro's wise counsel (Ex. 18:24-26) and the deep longing Moses had for the same Spirit of God with which he was filled to equip not just the 70 elders but the entire camp of Israel (Num. 11:25-29).  What is most impressive is that Moses invested deeply in the development of one particular person:  Joshua.  Moses didn't just let others lead, he deliberately invested in a next-generation leader -- someone younger, with a different set of strengths and skills, full of faith in God's power and purpose.  Maybe the greatest leadership lesson to glean from the prophet's story is this:  Moses had a Joshua.

But Joshua never had a Joshua.

Joshua's strong leadership helped Israel cross the Jordan, experience miraculous victories, and possess the Promised Land (for the most part).  But by the end of his story, Joshua has no Joshua of the next generation to lay hands on and entrust leadership to.  The fact that the book of Judges comes on the heels of the book of Joshua ought to be enough to settle that this is not a good problem to have.  He was missing something.  Are we?  As a generation, as a global church, as a local church, are we missing something?

I don't want to have a Joshua Problem.  And my recent table discussion assures me that there are next-generation young adults in the wings who are eager to be called, developed, and trusted.  I'm sure there are uncertainties for some and even objections for others.  But I believe God is calling each of us, no matter where we fall in the generational spectrum, to be part of erasing the Joshua Problem.  How do we do that well?  I'll be the first to admit I don't have all the answers, but I hope you'll join me in the journey of seeking to understand how to raise up Joshuas.