This month I had the privilege of delivering the commissioning speech to the ROTC graduates at the University of Portland. Seven cadets in front of their friends and relatives raised their right hands and swore to support and defend the constitution. Each stood before a noncommissioned officer to render their first salute and then gave the NCO a silver dollar in keeping with Army tradition. It was a moving ceremony and I was impressed by the quality of the young men and women ready to serve their nation.
Deuteronomy 3:28—But commission Joshua and encourage and strengthen him, for he will cross over ahead of the people and enable them to inherit this land that you will see.
Moses was reluctant to commission Joshua. In 3:23-25 we learn that he begged the Lord to let him cross over and see the Promised Land. He wanted to fulfill what God initially called him to do. But God was angry with His humble servant for disobeying an earlier command (see Numbers 20:12) and told Moses to stop asking to cross the Jordan. Instead, He took him to the top of Mount Pisgah, a mountain in west Jordan, about 10 miles (16 km) east of the Dead Sea and let him look down upon what would one day be the land of Israel.
One of the most important acts godly leaders perform is to commission new leaders. It’s not easy to come to the end of life and have to let go of responsibility and watch someone else take on the mantle of leading. Moses was in great health, sound mind and full of drive when God determined his enough. But true to form, the Exodus Patriarch obeyed His Master.
First, he encouraged Joshua. I imagine they went on some long walks, or sat down on some ledge where they could see for miles while Moses told his longtime friend, “Don’t be afraid Joshua. You’ve been with me for 40 years. You’ve seen what I do and how God works. He will help you. You can do it!” Just as God asked, he strengthened his protégé. Perhaps he said, “Joshua, you will encounter trials and nations fixed on your destruction. Don’t be afraid. As God rescued us from the Eqyptians so He will deliver you and His people. Let our Lord be your source of power. He will do it!”
One of the most important acts newly commissioned leaders must assume is to remember what they are called to do. Had Joshua reflected on the asperity of his countrymen and their rebellious track record he might have declined the position. Had he measured the task of conquering nations more formidable and fortified than his own he might have suggested Caleb take on the mission.
Commissioning is all about the mission and uncompromising loyalty to the one in charge. It is not about the perks of leading, the servitude of others or the power of holding office. If we lose the ability to commission capable leaders of integrity and wisdom eventually we lose our ability to exist as a nation—whether it be a free republic or as a kingdom of priests.
Pastors are sometimes afraid to commission lay ministers to supervise cells for fear that they will lose the strokes that come from being the only chief.—Carl George in Prepare Your Church for the Future
©2009 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)