Faithlife Sermons

The Importance of Godly Leadership

Through the Bible: 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This verse says volumes about godly leadership and its impact on a community or family. Living for Christ demands leadership, because our nature is to do what is pleasing in our own eyes. Godly leadership provides accountability, reminders and examples of what it looks like to follow Christ instead of living in the world. What does it mean to be a godly leader?

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Introduction

JOKE
Three friends decided to go deer hunting together. One was a lawyer, one a doctor, and the other a preacher.
As they were walking, along came a big buck. The three of them shot simultaneously. Immediately the buck dropped to the ground and all three rushed up to see how big it actually was.
Upon reaching it they found out that it was dead but had only one bullet hole. Thus a debate followed concerning whose buck it was.
A few minutes later a game officer came by and asked what the problem was. The doctor told him their reason for the debate. The officer told them he would take a look and tell them who shot it.
Within a few seconds the game officer said with much confidence, "The pastor shot the buck!"
They all wondered how he knew that so quickly.
The officer said, "Easy. The bullet went in one ear and out the other."
Key Question: How important is leadership in the church? How did a godly community with godly leadership fail to raise up godly leaders?
During Joshua’s life, the people worshiped the Lord.
After Joshua dies, while the elders who served with him were alive, the people worshiped the Lord.
He does this so that we can know Him intimately. God is King, and He wants to be known as King. He does this by giving His image-bearers stewardship over things.
In fact, God doesn’t only give stewardship to Leaders, He gives stewardship to all people. We can only know Him as King if we are accountable to Him for something.
After all of the elders died, a generation rose up who didn’t know the Lord.
You remember the parable of the stewards. This is a great picture of how God has related to man from the beginning.
What happened?
Before we answer that, look at what happened.
God raised up Joshua as a leader to steward His word (His instructions, promises and prohibitions).
With this in mind, let’s look at what happened during Joshua’s lifetime and after his lifetime. I want us to
Joshua
Joshua 24:31 CSB
31 Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel.
Judges 2:8–10 CSB
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.
As God acts in human history, Scripture reveals cycles of God’s activity. One such cycle:
God communicates by word. His gives instructions, promises, and prohibitions.
God affirms His word by great signs and miracles.
People of faith enjoy the blessings of fulfilled promises, but God is silent.
God’s people fail to remain faithful in times of affluence.
Creation, God makes Eve, God is silent while Satan speaks with Eve. God’s people backslide.
God speaks to Moses, God brings His people out of Egypt, God is silent for 400 years. God’s people backslide.
God speaks to Joshua, God delivers the people to the Promised Land, God is silent after Joshua and the elders who served with him died. God’s people backslide.
Why do communities backslide? How important is leadership to a community? How does a once godly community end up with no leadership?

A godly community always has godly leadership.

Judges 2:6–10 CSB
6 Previously, when Joshua had sent the people away, the Israelites had gone to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works he had done for Israel. 8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.
Key Question:
Joshua 24:31 CSB
31 Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel.
Judges 2:8–10 CSB
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.
Judges
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6 Previously, when Joshua had sent the people away, the Israelites had gone to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people worshiped the LORD throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the LORD’s great works he had done for Israel.

8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. 9 They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the LORD or the works he had done for Israel.

joshua 24 31
a godly community does not form by accident.
A godly community always has godly leadership. Notice that during Joshua’s lifetime, the people worshiped the Lord. But they also worshiped the Lord after Joshua was dead. Joshua’s leadership was not the only reason the community was godly.
In our culture, if we are not careful, we can elevate the importance of a celebrity leader or a pastor. If we are not careful, you can make me too important.
I w
When we say that a godly community always has godly leadership, we are not only talking about a godly pastor.
Notice that the godly community has a group of godly leaders…This group of leaders don’t have their names prominently listed in this passage, but they are just as important as Joshua. When we pray for our church and evaluate our leadership, please pray for our staff…but pray that God will continue to raise up many godly leaders in our community.
Key Question: What is special about this group of leaders during this time in Israel’s history? What is a godly leader? When we think about our community, what kind of leaders are we attempting to raise up?
The word “know” is more accurately translated: “hear, notice, learn of”
A generation rose up who did not have anyone who was making sure that they heard God’s word

Godly Leaders have achieved something they want to pass on.

Exodus 17:8–13 CSB
8 At Rephidim, Amalek came and fought against Israel. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Select some men for us and go fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hilltop with God’s staff in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.
exodus 17 8-
As a leader, Joshua had two primary goals:
Lead the people to possess the Promised Land and defeat the nations living there.
Lead the people to commit to the covenant God had called them to—the Ten commandments and the Law.
Joshua was able to lead the Israelites into the battles of the Promised Land, because he had already seen the Lord fight for Israel.
I want you to focus on vs 11.
Imagine what is happening in Joshua’s heart as he watches the battle ebb and flow according to Moses’ staff being lifted or being dropped.

Godly Leaders have demonstrated integrity and authenticity.

Exodus 33:11 CSB
11 The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend, then Moses would return to the camp. His assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.
Joshua made a choice of discipline early in his life. He decided that being around God’s activity was the highest priority of his life.
There was nothing fake about Joshua’s commitment to the Lord. When you look at this picture—that Joshua would not leave the tent of meeting—it is impossible to poke holes in his integrity. He really does pursue intimacy with the Lord.

Godly Leaders have become the best followers.

Joshua 5:13–15 NKJV
13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” 15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.
13-15
Joshua understands that he is not the leader of Israel. He understands that the Lord is leading.
When the Commander of the Armies of the Lord gives him instructions to march around Jericho, Joshua is committed to following these instructions even though they do not make sense.
A godly community always has godly leaders. They are followers of Christ who:
- have achieved something worth passing on
- Have demonstrated integrity and authenticity
- Have become the best followers.

Godly leadership does not guarantee godly community.

I want you to notice what happens in the generations after Joshua and the group of leaders who served with him died.
11-
Judges 2:11–17 CSB
11 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshiped the Baals 12 and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They angered the Lord, 13 for they abandoned him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, and they could no longer resist their enemies. 15 Whenever the Israelites went out, the Lord was against them and brought disaster on them, just as he had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly. 16 The Lord raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, 17 but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands. They did not do as their fathers did.
After Josua and all of the leaders who served with him died, the people turned from worshiping the Lord. But notice that even when God raised up Judges to lead them, they did not listen to their new leaders.
It is possible for a community to have godly leadership, but not choose to serve the Lord.
They chose to reject the Lord’s commands.
They chose to reject their leader’s pleadings.
They chose to reject their father’s and their grandfather’s examples.
Community Leaders can do everything right. However, despite our best efforts, the next generation still must choose to follow the Lord.
So…the fact that we have godly leaders in our church now does not guarantee that we will be a godly community. It does not guarantee that we will be a godly community in the future. Even communities with godly leadership have to chose to follow the Lord.
There is a critical crossroad for every generation…the home. Notice the next truth:

A community does not loose godly leaders by accident

How did this godly community end up with no godly leaders?
There are two primary reasons this community lost its godly leadership.
THE FIRST REASON: The people flung God’s word behind their backs.
A godly community always has godly leaders. They are followers of Christ who:
have achieved something worth passing onHave demonstrated integrity and authenticity Have become the best followers.
Nehemiah 9:23–29 CSB
23 You multiplied their descendants like the stars of the sky and brought them to the land you told their ancestors to go in and possess. 24 So their descendants went in and possessed the land: You subdued the Canaanites who inhabited the land before them and handed their kings and the surrounding peoples over to them, to do as they pleased with them. 25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land and took possession of well-supplied houses, cisterns cut out of rock, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. They ate, were filled, became prosperous, and delighted in your great goodness. 26 But they were disobedient and rebelled against you. They flung your law behind their backs and killed your prophets who warned them in order to turn them back to you. They committed terrible blasphemies. 27 So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. In their time of distress, they cried out to you, and you heard from heaven. In your abundant compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the power of their enemies. 28 But as soon as they had relief, they again did what was evil in your sight. So you abandoned them to the power of their enemies, who dominated them. When they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven and rescued them many times in your compassion. 29 You warned them to turn back to your law, but they acted arrogantly and would not obey your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, which a person will live by if he does them. They stubbornly resisted, stiffened their necks, and would not obey.
nehemiah 9 23-
THE FIRST REASON: The people flung God’s word behind their backs.
I want you to focus on vs 26.
deut 6
God’s word became less than the center of their lives. At some point, parents stopped discipling their children. They stoped talking about the Word of God when they got up, when they laid down, when they when about their day. They did not write God’s word on the doorposts of their homes or the city gates. They did not wear God’s word as a symbol on their hands and foreheads. Moses had commanded them to in , but they did not obey.
Community leadership cannot replace or match the level of discipleship that can be achieved in the home.
We can see in our own culture how this can happen:
IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL...We can expect our children to succeed in a secular education, but we might not expect our children to succeed in Bible Literacy. My personal goal is that every youth that graduates from high school in our church as read through God’s word several times.
IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL...We can expect our children to succeed in sports and the arts, but we might not expect our children to succeed in becoming disciple-makers.
IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL...We can expect our children to prepare for jobs that can sustain them, but we might not expect our children to prepare for ministry.
let’s look at the second reason this community lost all of its godly leaders...
THE SECOND REASON: At some point all of God’s blessings did not produce a greater desire to depend the Lord. Instead, God’s blessings produced an atmosphere of self-dependance.
Deuteronomy 6:10–12 CSB
10 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would give you—a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build, 11 houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
THE SECOND REASON: At some point all of God’s blessings did not produce a greater desire to depend the Lord. Instead, God’s blessings produced an atmosphere of self-dependance.
Moses warned the people that great wealth could possibly cause them to forget the Lord. Moses instructed them to discipline themselves not to forget the Lord.
Because they did not discipline themselves, they forgot that everything they had was the Lord’s.

Conclusion

In order for a community to follow Christ, they must have godly leaders. When a community loses godly leadership, they are doomed to backslide.
When parents fail to disciple their children, expect the next generation to produce families who value God’s word less and less.
Every generation must choose to follow the Lord. Community leaders cannot make the next generation obey the Lord.
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