Previously: L1/Philomath

Knowing the way is good, indispensable actually. If movement is required to protect the good from the bad, or even to find the better good, then it will take a leader who knows the way to initiate that movement.

But the knowing alone avails little. Only the most trusting traveller (or a man who has already decided to leave for his own reasons) will climb the ramp solely on the captain’s word that he knows the next port of call. Travellers will want to know the route, even though they assume that it is only the captain who will grip the rudder.

When an infantry leader describes an impending operation to his men, telling them what they will each do to accomplish the mission, he doesn’t rely on words alone, or even a map. He builds a replica made of sand that depicts in relief the terrain they will cross from departure to final objective. The leader stands over his sandtable, pointing with a long branch at each hill that must be climbed and each river that must be crossed, describing them all in detail. With the tip of his pointing stick, he both tells and shows each man where he will be positioned when the bullets fly, and where he believes the enemy will be when that happens. The sandtable is a very effective method for a leader to point the way to his men.

Why such detail? After all, soldiers have no choice but to obey the orders of the leaders appointed above them. True, but there is a big difference between obedience and followership. An obeyer seeks merely to avoid punishment, but the follower commits to seeing the mission through, which he can only do if the leader has pointed the way.

Then there is that assumption, that it is always and only the captain who will grip the rudder. Infantryman are actually trained to assume the inverse, that the leader will never make it to the final objective. Just as Moses breathed his last on the wrong side of the Jordan, leaving Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, Lincoln passed it to Grant to staunch the blood of nation wrenched, and knit back together North and South.

Since it is a child who shall lead us back to reconciliation, and I am even now a grown man, I am certain that it shall not be me who crosses the Jordan. I can only point, in turn, as it has been so pointed for me. And such has it been evermore in the search of man for that promised greater good. Leaders are called to point the way so followers can get there without them.

And thus, L2: the second indispensable skill of a leader. He points the way.

2 Replies to “L2/MisterJoshua”

  1. While both great leaders and both possessing indispensable leadership skills, I also love the fact that Joshua and Moses were not carbon copies. They each had their own unique giftings and struggles, and were called at their own unique points in time. Not sure Joshua could have led his people out of Egypt, and clearly Moses wasn’t to reach the Promised Land. Something for us to consider where we find ourselves today…

  2. another word for followership is discipleship. good stuff Dredd. important to remember Moses was a very reluctant leader when first called to lead….and he was 80ish when he led his people out of Egypt, so don’t assume we can’t be called to lead even late in life

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