Leadership: Joshua and Caleb (part 4 of 4)

Posted on February 16, 2012 by


Our study of Joshua, Caleb, and the other 10 spies in Numbers 13:25 – 14:4 has given us the following three principles to reflect on and consider regarding our own leadership.

  • The difference between an obstacle and an opportunity has only to do with God’s plan.
  • To fail to seize a God-ordained opportunity, even in the face of great difficulty, is to rebel against God.
  • Our failure to obey in faith may have grave consequences for us and for others.

Today we will look at the fourth principle.

Spiritual leadership and effective leadership are not necessarily interchangeable terms.

Who were these 12 men sent as spies into the promised land?  In 13:1-3 we are told twice that they were leaders.  Men of influence.  As leaders of the 12 tribes, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that they were all spiritual men, men of good repute, men who were well respected and who’d served their people well. But somewhere it all went wrong, and 10 of the 12 have messed things up.  Maybe they were bad leaders, evil men.

No, it’s too easy to set Joshua and Caleb up as good guys and the 10 as bad guys from the start.  The 10 never intended to lead Israel into disobedience.  We get no sense from scripture that they were wolves in sheep’s clothing.  I’m sure they thought all along that they were doing their best for the people.

OK, all 12 were leaders, all 12 were men of good repute, all 12 had good intentions.  What was the difference?  Well, if it wasn’t in their position, or their character, maybe it was that they were just poor leaders.  They hadn’t been to enough seminars, hadn’t developed their leadership skills. No, that can’t be it.  In the end, who were the most effective leaders?  The 10!  They carried the day!  The people listened to them, rather than to Joshua, Caleb, and even chose their plan over Moses and Aaron!

Spiritual leadership & effective leadership are not always interchangeable terms.  Who were the effective leaders here?  The 10!  But who was tied in to God’s plan, and aware of His will?  Who knew their task, and who had faith that it was God who would use them to accomplish the task in the end?  The 2.  These were spiritual leaders. The terms “spiritual leadership” and “effective leadership” may not be interchangeable, but neither are they mutually exclusive.  There’s nothing wrong with being spiritual and effective. But often it is not the leader who can carry the crowd that is pleasing God.  Leadership has much to do with knowing God’s heart and following His plan, regardless of the response.  Joshua and Caleb failed as leaders, and the 10 succeeded.  But notice who God is pleased with!  Look at verse 14:24.  But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

Here’s one last idea for you as a leader:  Leading people towards selfishness and self-preservation is always easy.  Leading them towards greater faith and a challenge is difficult.  Believe that!  That’s spiritual leadership.  It’s not always about consensus or majority rule.  Sometimes it’s about taking a tough stand for what you know God wants.  You won’t always be popular for it!