Over the last week, we’ve been thinking together about what it takes to be a leader in this world. We remember that God will call us to leadership (and by leadership we mean a commander of a group, organization or country) or He will not call us to specific leadership. Our goal in this life is not to gain influence, but instead to follow God’s plan for us and. We also remember that in God’s eyes, the leader (or commander) and the non-leader are worth just as much. Both are servants to God, only servants whom God has placed in different positions.
We’ve also discovered that God will plainly call us into a specific leadership if it is what He has for us. He will reaffirm that calling. He will give us opportunities to pursue that calling. He will do all of this in His own timing.
If God has called us to a specific position of leadership, will there ever be a time when He chooses not to bless the work we are doing in that position? Imagine for a moment that you get to be president of the United States! In fact, God has raised you up to lead this great nation. I had my students saying they would give out free puppies! You start off well, then you feel like the world is crashing in on you and as though God is not pleased with you. You go to accomplish the work you know God wants you to do and you don’t succeed. We could place ourselves in the same sort of scenario with any commanding position on this earth, which causes me to ask whether or not there might ever be a time when God will not bless the work we do even if He has called us to it?
Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land. They walk for seven days around Jericho and God delivers Jericho into their hands. God commanded the Israelites not to take any of the treasure for themselves, but instead to place it in the treasury of the Lord. After this, God called Israel to take the city of Ai. Israel’s army went to take Ai and was defeated. They were in retreat and this is where we will pick up the story.
The Lord then said to Joshua, “Stand up! Why are you on the ground? Israel has sinned. They have violated My covenant that I appointed for them. They have taken some of what was set apart. They have stolen, deceived, and put the things with their own belongings. This is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies. They will turn their backs and run from their enemies, because they have been set apart for destruction. I will no longer be with you unless you remove from you what is set apart.
“Go and consecrate the people. Tell them to consecrate themselves for tomorrow, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are things that are set apart among you, Israel. You will not be able to stand against your enemies until you remove what is set apart. In the morning you must present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord selects is to come forward clan by clan. The clan the Lord selects is to come forward family by family. The family the Lord selects is to come forward man by man. The one who is caught with the things set apart must be burned, along with everything he has, because he has violated the Lord’s covenant and committed an outrage in Israel.
Here we read of a time when Israel was actually doing what God called them to do, and God did not bless them. We see that Joshua was discouraged, in fact he was weeping before God asking why God would lead them to extinction. God’s response was, “Stand up!” and take care of the sinfulness in the nation that I have given you! Joshua then went and he took care of the sin, punishing the family who took for themselves what belonged to God. Then, in the next chapter, God gave them victory in the conquest He had called them to. As we look into this passage, I notice something about the call that God will place on our lives, whatever that calling might be.
When He calls us, He calls us for His glory, not ours. When we become concerned with our success or our gain instead of giving glory to God, God may not bless us even if we are doing what He has called us to do. Part of God’s nature is that He has all glory and honor and power forever. Please follow this line of reasoning closely: If we are created in His image, then the only true honor and glory we receive is from God (not from people). If we strive to gain for ourselves, we do so in vain because God is the only One who can give an eternal inheritance. When I work for God’s glory and honor instead of my own, I actually invest in my own inheritance.
I only mention this because we might be tempted to think God is selfish, but this cannot be so if all glory and the universe already belongs to Him; and if He is the only one who provides all things. We would do well to keep Romans 8:17 in our minds as we consider the fact that God asks us to work for His glory and not our own: “and if children, also heirs- heirs of God and coheirs with Christ- seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17 HCSB). We are heirs of God with Christ! We are not heirs of this world, though God will raise us up as leaders in this world.
Knowing this, we can think clearly about the issue at hand. We resolve with our lives not to pursue the position God has for us selfishly. We do so as a servant to others and as an ambassador for Christ. God calls us to serve in a certain capacity in this life. He calls us to serve with a certain motive in this life (His glory). He calls us to serve a certain way in this life: We do things according to Scripture, not according to the ways of the world.
For instance, I see so many women who will use immodesty to draw people in because they are beautiful. While people are paying attention, they will share a positive message. Even if the message is good, the way that they gained an audience has not honored God. It is selfish. We see movies and news networks doing the same thing to get viewers instead of share meaningful and beneficial news and messages.
As people who have been called by God, we serve in the position He has for us, with the motive He has given us and according to the instructions that He has provided for us. When we find our satisfaction in Christ, our passions and our dreams will line up with what God has for us because God has created us according to His knowledge and goodness.
 Joshua 7:10-15 (HCSB)