“And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go…” (Josh. 1:16).
After being in control of our own lives from the beginning, it is a difficult feat to surrender the reins of control to someone else. It is difficult to submit to someone else’s rule. So when we are faced with leadership transition, it still remains a difficult task.We are used to the “old way” of doing business, and oftentimes, if we are not familiar with the new leader, we will buck against anything this person says or wants to do. This is not the proper response.
The children of Israel were faced with a similar situation upon facing life without their leader, Moses. Moses was the one who, under the Power of God, had led them out of bondage to Egypt and to the brink of entering the Promised Land. Now, Moses was preparing for his death and the appointment of Joshua as Israel’s new leader. Joshua had been with Moses throughout the Exodus, the wilderness experience, and the giving of the Torah. So he was familiar with the on-again, off-again relationship between the people and God.
God instructed Moses to lay his hands on Joshua in the presence of the people. The people knew of Joshua’s relationship with Moses and respected him as Moses’ minister. Therefore, the purpose of this ceremony was to demonstrate the beginning of the transition in leader from Moses to Joshua upon Moses’ death. This was an example of how leadership transition should occur wherein the possibility of rejection is minimal.
So as we observe the death of Moses and the change in leadership, we see the children of Israel in communication with their new leader concerning the continuation of their covenant relationship with God. The people have two choices: 1) they can reject their new leader, or 2) they can follow him in the same manner as they followed Moses. They chose to follow Joshua and continue to adhere to the leadership of Joshua as long as God continues to be with him as He was with Moses (Josh. 1:17).
What can we take away from this example? When we are faced with a change in leadership, we must be observant of the new leader’s character, principles and values. If we are following after Christ, by paying attention to these things, we can determine if we will subscribe to following this person’s lead. If we can determine that the new leader is following God wholeheartedly, then he or she is someone worth submitting to in the name of Christ.