There are many biblical examples of great leaders – Moses, David, Peter, Paul – but let’s just take a look at Joshua. Born a slave in Egypt, Joshua rose slowly over many years into the primary leadership role for the entire nation of Israel. An impressive transition on many levels. The life of Joshua spans more than the book bearing his name. He is mentioned in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, too. From his story we can see five basic elements of great leadership.
1. Watch a real leader at work. When Moses finally led the people out of Egypt, Joshua watched as he gave credit solely to God (Exodus 15:1-21) He witnessed at close range the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 24:13-14) He listened as Moses interceded for the people after they worshiped the Golden Calf. (Exodus 32:11-14) Joshua waited outside the “tent of meeting” when Moses met with the Lord (Exodus 33:11) He witnessed the construction of the ark in which Moses was commanded to carry the law, some manna, and evidence of a miracle. (Exodus 25:10-22)
In short, Joshua learned some of the keys to great leadership by watching Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time.
2. Be patient. Moses had to be very patient with complainers in the midst of the large assembly. People did not readily trust Moses or God to bring them into the Promised Land. Remember they had been slaves for 400 years. When Joshua, Caleb, and ten others were sent to spy out the land God had promised, the people overwhelmingly voted to live in fear. (Numbers 13 and 14) This resulted in 40 more years of wilderness wandering. Ouch. Patience, when you know what to do, is hard. Sometimes it takes way more time than it should for the people to see what the leader can see at once.
3. Be courageous. When Moses’ work is done, Joshua is commissioned. He is told over and over to “be strong and courageous.” (Joshua 1:6,7,9) With his 40 + year internship under Moses, Joshua had the courage that comes from faith and the strength that comes from discipline. He would need all of that when facing the native peoples of the land of Canaan.
4. Stay grounded. The greatest mistake made by leaders throughout history is forsaking the principles and character qualities that helped them rise to power. Moses left both a fine example and specific instructions on how Joshua and all the people were to remember and follow the laws handed down on Mt. Sinai. To his credit, Joshua made certain to keep these laws close by. He rooted out problems as soon as they cropped up, and acted honorably in every decision he was called upon to make. Integrity must be intentional for a leader. Joshua demonstrated this throughout his career.
5. Learn from history. Joshua understood that people have short memories. They quickly forget what God has done, and wander into dangerous territory with nothing but their foolish pride. As soon as the people crossed into the Promised Land, Joshua supervised construction of a stone monument so that all would remember what God had done in getting them from Egypt to the Jordan River. (Joshua 4) Later, he built an altar at Mt. Ebal (Joshua 8) with giant stone billboards containing God’s laws, so that everyone could see them. And finally, in Joshua 24, he set up a “stone of remembrance” at Shechem. If leaders keep in mind what has led to success in the past, they are better able to apply those practices for success in the future. Joshua exemplified this type of leadership.
Teens today need good role models for leadership. A study of Joshua teaches how young people can learn much from mentors and from history while they are waiting for their chance to shine. An excellent in-depth study is Joshua: Strong and Courageous.
What Joshua learned most of all from his mentor, Moses, was this:
The key to great leadership is a close relationship with God.
What are the right questions to ask in Bible Study? What is the purpose of Bible study? Why do we care about asking the right questions?
Any teacher or leader who cares about sharing God’s Word also cares about successfully getting students involved in the Biblical story. It’s not just learning the facts, or the language, or the history. It’s not just whether or not something actually happened. Teaching the Bible is about making it come alive and finding the truth that can be applied today. And even more important, it is about helping students see God more clearly and grow closer to Him through a better knowledge of His Word.
In the late 1980’s when I first began leading Bible studies, I read a wonderful book by Dick Murray, Teaching the Bible to Adults and Youth, Abingdon Press, 1987. Dick Murray was a lively character, a Christian Education professor at Perkins School of Theology, SMU in Dallas, who could bring Bible study fully alive with a variety of methods. Some of his methods are staples in my own style of teaching the Bible to teens.
In asking Bible study questions, there are four keys to keep in mind.
Multiple Learning Styles: Much research (more…)
There are plenty of reasons to offer Bible study to teenagers. But here are five benefits or by-products that can have a positive, lasting impact on teens.
The Bible tells teens just how accepted and valued and loved they are, just as they are. The world is full of critics and comparisons. The Bible is the only place where teens can find proof of God’s undying love for them. In Genesis, they will see that all humans are created in the image of God and he called them VERY GOOD. That is better than GOOD, which is what God said about everything else in creation. Every sunset, every tree, every rocky shore- God called them good, but every single human being starts by being, in God’s eyes, Very Good. No matter our background, our mistakes, our abilities or disabilities, God wants to include us in his kingdom family.
Benefit #1: Knowing God’s everlasting love is directed at you.
By getting deeper into the Bible, teens get an opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they believe the basics of Christian faith. They can test the truths of what they heard in Vacation Bible School or Sunday School. The more they study, the more they see grace, the underlying theme of the entire Bible. It all hangs together in amazing ways, with echos of earlier concepts in later writing and prophetic passages which prove unbelievably accurate. Teens begin to see how biblical faith is distinct from other religions. They can ask deeper personal questions about the nature of God and the nature of faith. They can make an informed decision about following Christ.
Benefit #2: Knowing the truth about God and his overarching story.
Students in small groups learn from each other at least as much as from the leader/curriculum. Teens gain valuable friendships with others in Bible study. By listening to one another and discussing what they read, students bond over important values instead of only sports teams, fad clothing or music videos. Adult leaders, especially those who are not the teens’ parents, demonstrate what mature faith looks like, and teens absorb this knowledge as well. More important than the relationships with peers and adults, a relationship with the God of the universe grows bright as the sun. It is this by-product of community that almost always adds value to time spent in Bible study.
Benefit #3: Making solid friendships with others while building a close relationship with God.
Kids today are really busy. If they come to a Bible study group at all, you want to help them get the most out of it.
So don’t overload them with homework or expect they will be able to get it all done each week.
We have to meet them where they are.
The character studies available here include passages to look up and think about, preferably before coming to the group for discussion. That only works well when students are motivated and have plenty of time.
But here is another – perhaps better – way to approach the study. Preview the week’s material ahead of time, and decide on 4 or 5 sections to work together. You may decide based on the interests of your students, or passages you like a lot, or simply on the amount of time you have. 90 minutes is about as long as I would ever try with teens. (more…)