Leadership, Transition and CommissioningThe time had come for Moses to pass on the baton, and being the great leader that he was, he did not want to leave a leadership vacuum as his legacy.
Today's reading deals with this transition and contains Moses' plea and God's answer. There are some noteworthy moments and concepts in our passage:
- Notice how Moses recognises the fundamental spiritual nature of humanity. He addresses God as the "God of the spirits of all humankind". (Another translation renders it, "the God who gives breath (Ruach) to the flesh of man".)
- Moses also speaks of the nature of leadership: To lead out of the past and in to the future and to be a shepherd. (The shepherd model of leadership merits further thought and we'll look at this tomorrow...)
- Moses had a deep concern that the people should not be shepherd-less. This gives us an insight into his caring pastoral leadership style. He could have been insecure - after all Joshua gets the "cherry on the top" of leading the people into the Promised Land. He could have argued that such a big task needed an experienced and proven leader, but Moses doesn't cling to power, he wants what's best for the people.
- In God's eyes, Joshua is qualified for leadership because the Spirit is in him. It is not Joshua's skill-set or training, but his willingness to be led and guided by God's Spirit.
- Commissioning to leadership happens in the presence of the priest and the community with Moses clearly passing on the baton. Leadership is about God, community and continuity.
- Authority is best received rather than taken.
- The leader's task is to listen to God. The "Urim" referred to in the passage refers to an ornate vestment worn by the priest. When they made inquiries of the Lord, different gems on the vestment would glow, indicating the Lord's answer. Joshua had to learn to work with the priest to discern God's will.
What qualities or aspects of leadership do you see in this passage?
|Moses said to the LORD, 16 "May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all humankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD's people will not be like sheep without a shepherd." |
18 So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in."