business&leadership&Overflow29 May 2013 04:26 pm

Finally! I’m trying to get back on track here and catch back up to speed on Joshua and the Israelites. When last we left them, they had just found their way across the Jordan River. If you remember, the river just dried completely up in front of them as soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped in. And we have another of those deja vu moments. Let’s look at that for a second.

As a recap, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, an oppressive environment where they were enslaved in endless forced labor, treated cruelly, and struggled to survive. With Moses came a vision: the Israelites would become a thriving nation in a land flowing with milk and honey. But the journey started off a little shaky, with the Pharaoh’s army chasing them down and cornering them on the shores of the Red Sea. Miraculously, the Red Sea opens up a pathway to allow the Israelites to cross to the other side. They have escaped… to the wilderness.

Fast forward 40-some years to Joshua 3. Moses is dead. Joshua is the leader of Israel and they’re leaving the wilderness, an oppressive environment that has tested their faith and resolve, though God has provided for them each step of the way. With Joshua comes a promise or, perhaps more appropriately, a reminder of a promise: Israel will become a thriving nation in a land flowing with milk and honey. But first, there’s this body of water in the way…

So, what’s different? I’m going to focus on three things that stand out: Motivation, Preparation, and Credit.
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business&leadership&Overflow24 Apr 2013 04:40 pm

And we’re back. I was a little distracted last week and I’m still distracted, but I’m fighting through it. We’re finally at the part where Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan River. This is an exciting time for the budding nation and, as we discussed last time, it’s the moment God has chosen to cement Joshua’s leadership role.


As we start this passage, we find Joshua reiterating the vision and instructions for crossing the Jordan. He reminds the Israelites of the promise that has kept them going all this time: God will give us the Promised Land. That’s their vision, their goal. He reminds them of their instructions: Follow the Ark of the Covenant, follow God. He explains how it’s going to happen: Once the priests wade into the water, the river will stop flowing and a path will appear.

It almost seems redundant and certainly feels as though it’s been distilled into a handy little summary. But this is exactly what the Israelites needed. This is what we all need from time to time. Little reminders of where we are, why we’re here, and what’s to be expected. This is a rally cry that will unite the nation in either skepticism or hope. And either way, it won’t be long before the truth is revealed.
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business&leadership&Overflow10 Apr 2013 04:40 pm

My apologies for missing/skipping last week. Sometimes the struggle prevails. On to today…


Last time, we talked about the distance between the Israelites and the Ark of the Covenant as they prepared to cross the Jordan River. It provides a perspective to help the Israelites see the bigger picture of what’s going on and it served as a reminder that they were following God. In fact, they had been following God for the entire time they wandered the desert – even when it seemed as though they weren’t being led anywhere.

The truth is, we’re always being led, a plan is always being executed – even when we’re stuck in the desert. The desert is where God puts us until we’re ready for the plan He’s constructing for us. And while we’re there, we have a job to do. Our job is to prepare. Get ready. Or, as Joshua says here, “Sanctify” ourselves.

Sanctification is a setting apart. There’s a spiritual aspect to this. It’s not just doing your push-ups and stretching to prepare for the journey. It’s a serious soul search. It’s a matter of cleaning our hearts and minds and dedicating our very lives to the will of God. It’s a big deal. But it’s a small price to pay.
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business&leadership&Overflow28 Mar 2013 05:00 pm

Fair warning: It may take a while to cross this river and get through Joshua 3, which is where we are starting this week.


The spies came back with a good report: the Promised Land is ripe for the taking. Now there’s just this matter of getting all these people across the river and waging a war or two. Or three.

Joshua and his officers delivered the instructions to the people as they waited for the right moment to move. They had a good system of communication here, a kind of trickle-down phone chain approach that reached the entire community efficiently and effectively, but that’s not what I’m focusing on here. What interests me more at the moment is the instructions.

Now, it’s not the last time they’ll get instructions that don’t make complete sense and it’s not even the first time – this tactic has become something of a pattern for their journey – but each time, it does make you pause after reading it and wonder what is going on. This time, it’s leading with the Ark of the Covenant and leaving “about two thousand cubits” of space between it and the people.

Two thousand cubits, though debated, is apparently about a half mile. It’s about 6 1/2 times the length of Noah’s Ark. It’s a significant distance and it’s curious enough to wonder why. [continue reading this post…]

business&leadership&Overflow21 Mar 2013 12:55 pm

Note: I just realized this was the seventh installment of this series (double 0, 7). It wasn’t intentional, but rather serendipitous, right?

I love a good spy story. Whether in TV shows like Burn Notice and 24 or movies like the Bond and Bourne series, spies are fascinating. Mysterious, intriguing, and full of danger. And cool. Being a spy requires (or inspires a certain level of coolness. They’re so charming, you almost forget to fear them. But you do fear them.

Now, I know these on-screen depictions of spy life aren’t truly indicative of real life. And as we revisit our Jericho spies, cowering under drying leaves on the roof of a seedy establishment, reality sets in a little bit. They’ve they’ve kinda lost the upper hand, by putting themselves at the mercy of Rahab. And this is what happens.


Rahab comes up to see the two spies huddled in hiding on the roof. The two spies the king’s army is looking for. The two spies Rahab lied to protect. And she’s got a proposition.

First, she confesses the fear and awe of the city in regards to the Israelites. She tells them that the entire land has been watching them and tracking their progress since leaving Egypt. And everyone is terrified, “melting in fear” because of them. They are in a position of power because they have God’s power behind them and His favor on them and there’s no denying it. She mentions the Red Sea and the defeat of two Amorite kings. I’m guessing there were some Paul Bunyan tales going around as well. [continue reading this post…]

business&leadership&Overflow14 Mar 2013 04:25 pm

We’ve finally reached the passage that was going to start this series. I was going to try and keep up with a different study I was in, but thought better of jumping in anywhere but the beginning. Anyway, today we look at a pretty famous part of the Joshua story. And Joshua isn’t even in it. Remember those two spies Joshua sent to Jericho? I mentioned that they weren’t the most clandestine duo last time. They were spotted as soon as they entered the city. So this is the situation in which we find this account of Rahab.


The spies went into Rahab’s house. Rahab was one of the early adopters of the work-from-home business model and she was prominent in the city, such that her house was in the city wall, close to the gates. The king’s men knew where the spies were and they quickly made their way to Rahab’s house to capture and interrogate them. But Rahab hid the men and lied to the soldiers, sending them on a wild goose chase.

It’s easy to villainize Rahab here for lying and, given her occupation, generally being a “bad person.” The truth is, though (see what I did there?), we would all be tempted to do the same and we probably have in different circumstances. And if your own personal convictions aren’t enough, how about the some of the founding fathers of the Christian faith?

Abraham lied.
Isaac lied.
Jacob lied.
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leadership&Overflow05 Mar 2013 05:33 pm

Back again and this time we’ll dig into chapter two.


Whenever I get that “déjà vu” feeling reading the Bible, I know it’s time to investigate. Joshua sends spies into the promised land and I immediately think of when Moses sent spies into the promised land (Numbers 13). What’s different? What’s the same? What’s the deal – haven’t they already spied out this land? Is he just stalling? So let’s take a closer look.

It’s been 40 years at least, so it makes strategic sense to send out spies and see what’s changed. That’s probably the deal and it’s probably not a stalling tactic. So what’s different? The first thing that stands out is who orders this clandestine activity. God ordered Moses to send a chief from each tribe, but Joshua picks two spies (presumably on his own). Moses’s spies (including Joshua) represented all the people and interests of Israel. Joshua’s choices were obviously limited.

Second, let’s look at how these spies were sent out. While this requires some speculation, it would appear that Moses sent out his 12 spies in a grand fashion. He must have created a stir during the selection process that would’ve drawn the attention of everyone in the camp. And based on the return party and reporting process, one might assume they had a pretty big send off as well. This was a big deal, sending these twelve. It had significant ramifications on the future of a nation.

And then we look at Joshua and his spies. Joshua “secretly” sends two spies from Shittim. When I first read that (and many times since), I assumed “secretly” referred to their enemies. (Of course, that didn’t work out too well.) Now that I think about it, though, it may have been a secret from everyone. I mean, the spies are never even named. and they go out, do their business, and returned, reporting only to Joshua. Again, basing this off of the return party of Moses’s twelve spies, and the riots that ensued, maybe Joshua was nervous about the report. Maybe this was something he did without God’s instruction because he wasn’t completely courageous quite yet? That’s speculation, of course, but it seems reasonable.
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business&leadership&Overflow25 Feb 2013 04:10 pm

Previously on “Leadership Lessons from Joshua”…

We’ve been looking at the book of Joshua to see what lessons we can glean from it regarding leadership. Though we’ve only made it through the first chapter thus far, we’ve already discussed what it means to be called and appointed to a leadership role (A Call to Action), the need and source of being courageous in this role (A Call to Courage), and the foundational role of followers (Followers).

Before we dig into chapter two, however, I want to revisit the call to courage for a second to think more about the source of our courage. Joshua 1:8 explains:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

As I mentioned previously, it seems clear that the source of our courage and strength needs to be the Word of the Lord. However, what has since occurred to me is that, in this context that means the Pentateuch. Genesis through Deuteronomy contains enough evidence of God’s power and authority to sustain your motivation, courage, and strength as a leader. In these five books, we learn the history of the world, the history of God’s people, and, given the rises and falls, history’s penchant for repetition. There is intrigue, suspense, romance, deceit, lies, murder, corruption, cover-ups, laws, wars, mystery, miracles, redemption, and everything in between.
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leadership&Overflow13 Feb 2013 05:26 pm

There are many keys to being a great leader, but foundationally, the key to being a leader of any kind is that you have people following you. In this day and age, the notion of following has become terribly muddled because technology and marketing have made “following” a much more casual experience than what traditional definitions call for. The buttons online asking users to follow other Twitter accounts are a far cry from the “Follow Me” request issued by Jesus as he was building his inner circle of disciples.

Today, “following” simply means paying mild attention to a stream of news, ponderings, and pictures of food as is convenient to your personal schedule. “Following” is more akin to squeezing someone into your schedule as time and interest allows, somewhere between checking emails and playing Farmville. Then, it meant leaving behind everything you know and wholly devoting yourself to one person for the rest of your life as a servant to his master. It meant risking everything and sacrificing your own identity to learn from and espouse the beliefs of another to become the protege and legacy of another. It was a big deal, bigger than pushing a button. It was not convenient.

This week, we find Joshua rallying the troops, in a sense. He’s been installed as the new leader of Israel. He’s been instructed and encouraged. And now he’s building his followers. There’s already a leadership structure in place, so Joshua starts there. He begins his new role by addressing the leaders throughout the community and relay his orders via trickle-down delegation. It’s like a prayer chain and it’s a wonderfully organized communication system. But the best part is yet to come.
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leadership&Overflow07 Feb 2013 05:25 pm

This world is so messed up, fallen, immoral, and difficult to stomach. I just can’t wrap my head around…

When you hear a blanket statement such as this, chances are you’ve filled in the blank at the end. Something immediately comes to mind to support the sentiment. Something that irks you about the state of the world. It may not be the same issue or set of issues that come to my mind, but surely something seers your conscience. A figurative dragon tormenting our society and culture. A dragon that needs slaying. But slaying dragons takes courage.

In sports, we talk about courage in terms of playing despite the pain of injuries – in a sense, doing something you love even though it’s risky and hurts. In movies, it often means standing up against significant odds to exact revenge on someone who has mistreated you or someone close to you. Elsewhere, we hear courage defined as never giving up or suppressing our fear. But what is courage, really? What does it mean to be Brave? Better yet, how can you instill courage as a core characteristic of your leadership style?

Well, in the next four verses of Joshua (chapter 1, verses 6-9), God tells Joshua to be courageous three times in what we assume to be a single conversation, based on proximity. Joshua had just received his call to leadership, as well as a magnificent promise that he would be successful in his endeavors. God’s told him clearly that no enemy would stand against him, that all the land he steps foot into will be his, and that God will be with him just like He was with Moses. [continue reading this post…]

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