Joshua 1:2-3 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”
God’s plans aren’t limited to the lifespan of any individual. That’s something we have trouble grasping emotionally sometimes, but it’s very important. Jesus of course rose from the dead, but even He left the earth physically 40 days after that. It’s very significant that Luke starts his account of the Church by saying, “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” (Acts 1:1-2) Just as the believers continued Jesus’ ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit, even so Joshua continued Moses’ ministry. Sometimes someone’s shoes feel too big to fill. I’m sure Joshua felt that way about Moses (even though he wore sandals rather than shoes). However, when a work is genuinely the Lord’s it will continue after the individual. Some ministries indeed collapse after the leader is eliminated, either through death or through scandal, but that is a sign that it was being done in man’s strength rather than God’s. For example, many will mourn when Billy Graham leaves us, but the ministry he started is going stronger than ever. That is certainly of God! It has wisely been said that “There is no success without a successor.” Often that is literally true in the sense of a single individual who will “take the reins,” so to speak, but it is even better when, as was the case with Jesus, the original leader is multiplied into many who carry their vision. That’s when it becomes very clear that God’s plans are far greater than any individual.
I will confess to not having been very good about this issue myself. Actually, I haven’t been very focused on it being “my ministry,” but have somewhat presumed that the church would continue after I was gone. The Lord has raised up some pastors from among those I have led, and thankfully one has a real commitment to this particular body and continues to minister here. Extricating myself from the daily activities of the congregation isn’t so easy, but I’ve got to remember that I’m not irreplaceable, whatever my pride tells me. I am to lead in such a way that when I am gone there won’t be even a hiccup, but rather steady, continued growth and progress. My focus is to be on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, with full assurance that He will supply everything that is needed. (Matthew 6:33)
Father, thank You for this reminder. You have given me an interesting skill set, and it isn’t easy to think of an individual doing all of the variety of things I do. However, in a number of ways it would be better for a number of people to each do one or more of those things, so that more people would be involved. I ask for wisdom in asking people to do things, knowing that You will supply and guide, so that Your will may be done more and more right here, even as it is in heaven, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!