Judges 2:7 The people worshiped the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. 8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred ten years. 9 So they buried him within the bounds of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 Moreover, that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
Joshua was an important leader in the history of Israel. While Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt, and then led them through 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua led the people into their new homeland. He was Moses’ successor. And while Moses and Joshua were leaders of the people, the Israelites were – mostly – faithful to God. Frankly, Moses and Joshua demanded it. Violators were severely punished since their sin would cripple the entire nation of Israel.
But once these leaders died, and the elders who had known them died, there emerged a string of leaders who did not have the benefit of their example, nor had they known the powerful acts of God in their midst. Fidelity to God became a thing of the past, a religion of their ancestors – not their own. So the people fell away and endured terrible consequences. This is what happens when even a single generation of leaders fail to raise up another generation ready to lead.
It turns out that leadership matters.
Truth is, the sheep will tend to wander off, get themselves in trouble, drift away from the Lord. As shepherds of the flock, we leaders in the church (clergy and laity) are called to bring people back, support, encourage, correct, rebuke, even die for the sake of the flock if necessary. And it’s often a thankless job. We have to make hard decisions that other people don’t like. We have to tell people truths they don’t want to hear.
But most of all, we are called to identify and raise up another generation of leaders before out time is done – leaders who know first-hand the stories of faith, the works of God the Father through Jesus the Son. For without faithful shepherds, the flock perish. It’s just that simple. That’s what’s on my mind this morning. Who are the next generation of leaders being raised among us? How do we get them ready to lead when our time is done?
Lord give us grace to be faithful leaders of the flock. Raise up persons with the anointing for leadership in your church and in your world. And help us to endure when we want to give up. Amen.