“Transitions are almost always signs of growth, but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere else behind.” – Fred Rogers
Transition can be one of the scariest times in any organizations life. As a pastor, I have seen churches that once thrived all but fall apart through a transition to a new pastor. Companies stocks can dip like crazy when leadership shifts happen, because the unknown can be overwhelming. A new leader can be exact what is needed, and propel the organization to new heights. Or, the feign leader may only drive the entity into the ground faster than you could say, “bankruptcy”.
There is obviously a healthy fear of transitions, and it is wise to understand how vulnerable a time it is. Despite, transitions being sensitive times; they can be accomplished in such a way that we call it a “smooth transition”. What we mean by that is that no noticeable jolts of alarm came through the transition. Through transparency, trust, and clear direction a smooth transition can be achieved and the organization is much better for it on the other side.
Israel had had one of the most impressive leaders this world has ever known, Moses. Even by secular analysis, Moses is considered one of the greatest leaders of people in all of human history. If you just recount everything we have read to this point, you too will agree that Moses was truly a visionary with clear purpose and direction. This was not his own self-start, but rather his wiliness to submit to the Lord’s leadership.
Moses is soon to die and pass of the scene, but who is qualified to take his place? What big shoes to fill! Joshua has already been identified as the next leader, and no doubt up to this point many wondered how that was going to work. Joshua is not a young man, and he has had his fair share of leadership experiences and moments. How could this massive nation trust Joshua to lead them?
The answer is found in Deuteronomy 34:9 – “And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.” It is also found in Joshua 3:7 – “And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” And Joshua 4:14 – “On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.”
God took Joshua, and elevated him in front of the people. Moses transitioned well, laying hands on Joshua and instructing the people (because Moses loved the people more than the position). The people did right by recognizing God’s authority and leadership in putting Joshua forward. Joshua in humility had served Moses, and now God is magnifying him… he is not trying to magnify himself.
What made the transition between Moses and Joshua so smooth was that everyone was focused on the Lord and Him getting all the glory. Their humility is astounding, as God has to remind Joshua “fear not”. The former leader, future leader, and the people all want what God wants and in humility they follow Him.
There are so many lessons here: First, if you are young and ambition, be patient. Be humble, serve, and wait on God to exalt you as He deems fit. Be more concerned with being what God wants you to be than you are in doing what you want to do.
Second, in transitions (particularly in churches) the saving grace is humility on the part of everyone involved. If the pastor, new pastor, and church all act in humility and are sensitive to the leadership of the Lord, the transition will be smooth.
Third, in your private life be humble. Be willing to be a part of the plan of God, not constantly going against it. The idea that their always needs to be opposition in the house of God is contrary to scripture. Unity and humility should reign in every New Testament church and New Testament believer.
Daily Scripture Reading
Deuteronomy 32 - 34
“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.”