The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11 NIV
Joshua’s accent to leadership was not an accident. He was formed through his mentorship to Moses and transformed through his relationship with God.
Before the book of Joshua opens, we have already seen Joshua son of Nun in key places of the story of God’s people. Moses calls on Joshua to lead the people of Israel in a battle against the Amalekites. Joshua accompanied Moses up the mountain where Moses would receive the 10 Commandments. And in the text we have before us, we find Joshua lingering at the tent where Moses talked with God.
Joshua’s lingering gives us clues as to how God shaped him to take on his future role as leader. There are some insights we can glean from this passage which we can apply to our lives as we prepare for all that God would seek to do through us.
Spiritual Work Cannot Be Rushed
Joshua’s lingering at the tent is a reminder that our prayers, our discipleship in God’s word, our devotion to God in worship, are not items to be check off of a religious TO-DO list. These are the ingredients that bring about the kind of transformation that prepare of for duty in God’s Kingdom.
Moses modeled prayer for Joshua by talking with God as one would talk to a friend. Conversations with friends and loved ones are not rushed. Love and devotion take time. If our praying doesn’t bring us closer to God, and make us present to God, then we are missing a crucial aspect in our communing with God.
We Are Refined in the Presence of God
One cannot truly commune with God and maintain their old identity. God has a new identity for each of us. Our goal as disciples is to constantly grow into that identity. Growth and maturity do not happen through the strength of our will or the power of our work. We can no more accomplish the growth and maturity God desires for us than a pecan tree can, by the strength of its will, produce figs. Only by being present to God, and leaning upon him, can we be transformed into the Christlike servant he desires us to be.
Do Not Become Too Busy Working FOR God that You Neglect Spending Time WITH God
Our enthusiasm for God often leads us to work tirelessly for God. Each person God calls and saves, God puts into service. Joshua already had his place of service. He was Moses’ aid and he was the commander of the forces. He had enough on in plate that he could have kept himself occupies 24 hours a day. In spite of Joshua’s busyness, we still find him humbly lingering at the tent where Moses spoke to God face to face.
Our first priority should not be about the things we can do for God. Our first priority should be God himself. Without a connection to God we have no business working for God. Through maintaining a vibrant connection to God, even the little that we can accomplish for him will be blessed beyond our understanding.
Martin Luther’s attitude concerning this was summed up when he said, ““I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
Joshua Was Being Mentored by Moses, Who Spoke to the Lord Face to Face, as One Speaks to a Friend
Joshua was fortunate enough to have someone mentor him in the faith. Moses would, through his example and teachings, lay a strong groundwork for Joshua’s future leadership. This should make us reflect on who we are influencing for the Lord.
Moses influenced Joshua by allowing Joshua to accompany him, by delegating responsibilities to him, and by modeling a believing life before him. We are called to do the same for those who are in our lives.
The Result of Joshua’s Mentorship and Dedication to God was Servanthood
Moses was the only person, prior to Joshua, to bear the title, Servant of the Lord. That title was passed to Joshua at Joshua’s death. Think of all that Joshua could have been called: Conqueror of Canaan, Emperor West of the Jordan, Ruler of God’s People. But the highest accolade that could be applied to his life, a life of dedication to God, was found in the phrase “Servant of the Lord.”
After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
Joshua 24:29 NIV
Fittingly, another person, with a name similar to Joshua’s, would come along who would commend servanthood to us.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45 NIV
Servanthood is the ultimate form of leadership, and the highest rung on the ladder that we can hope to achieve.