In Numbers 27, Moses is told by God that he is not going to be able to lead the people into the promised land. Moses accepts this as a consequence of his sin (with a little bit of passing the buck revealed in Deuteronomy), but is still concerned for the people. As he thought about the people of Israel moving on without him, he asked God to make it clear who the new leader would be, “that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.”
God drew Moses’ attention to Joshua (who had been an aid to Moses for decades) and told him to “invest him with some of your authority” so the people would follow. So Moses commissioned Joshua with clear direction from God.
For the last 20 years, I’ve been looking for Joshuas. Don’t worry, I haven’t received any directive from God to go wander out into the mountains to die or anything, but much of my student ministry has been geared toward helping students be the Joshuas in their own story – to find and lead ministries of their own. I love seeing potential (that God has placed within people) catalyzed and made kinetic. The last couple weekends have brought some great reminders for me of how that’s been fruitful.
One of those moments came over a weekend ski trip – with two recently graduated students as part of the team leading our group. Additionally, a couple other former students were leading another group from a church nearby, and another former student was the speaker for the event. It’s incredibly humbling to see so literally how our influence outreaches us by miles!
“We are what they grow beyond… that is the true burden of all masters.”
I may or may not be qualified to argue with the diminutive green guru, but I think he’s only partially right. “We” are indeed what they grow beyond – the starting blocks that help them launch forward into lives of ministry and service. But the fact that our students grow beyond us is not only our burden… It is our hope. We hope they will do what we have only dreamed of. We hope they will accomplish what we have been afraid to try. We hope they will go where we can’t…
And in God’s grace, they will!