“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”–Joshua 1:9, NRSV
Moses was dead. Joshua was scared. How do I know that? Because the Book of Joshua begins with God giving him a pep talk. Three times during that pep talk, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. When he got up from there and went out among the people, they told him to be strong and courageous.
So, was it wrong for Joshua to be scared? No. It means God had him right where he wanted him. It means he was fit for spiritual leadership.
Any ministry worth doing will be bigger than the minister can handle by himself. It will be bigger than all of his friends pooling their thoughts together. It will be so big that only the power of God accomplish it.
Being scared is a good place to start. Moses, at 40, knew that God had called him to help the Hebrew people. At that time, he had no thought for spiritual leadership. Full of brash self-confidence, he murdered an Egyptian. Then he fled for his life. Forty years later, when all that self-confidence had been drained from him, God called him to his ministry. By that time, he was scared.
If being scared is a good place to start spiritual leadership, it is certainly not a good place to stop. So God and all the people told Joshua to be strong and courageous. He immediately began to organize the people to cross the Jordan and begin his ministry.
God expects some measure of spiritual leadership from all mature believers. When God wants more from us than we feel like we can do–when we’re scared–there is only one proper response. Do it anyway. Act in courage in spite of fear. Step forth in faith, expecting God to provide enough strength and light for one step at a time.
God’s message to believers today has not changed from his message to Joshua. Be strong and courageous. Where God has called, he will equip. Apart from God, we can do nothing (except to make a mess of things). With God, we can do all things that he calls us to.
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