Joshua 1:1-9 – Are You Ready for the Big Ol’ Challenge That’s Before You?

Posted: May 11, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 1:1-9

The Lord’s Charge to Joshua

I have been the leader of the finance group at my company for eight years now. Of course, there have been many challenges over those 8 years. Some small, some large. Something always new on the horizon to keep things interesting. Over those years, I have faced the challenges of getting the department ready to move from California to South Carolina (and hiring all new people). That was a major challenge. There was the challenge of moving the company off its long-time ERP system, eBack Office, to the ERP system that the rest of the US group of Fujikura companies were using, Oracle. That was a huge challenge. That challenge included another challenge within it concerning financial reporting methodology. That was a big challenge that included some missteps along the way. New challenges exist today – training a new temporary employee right now, for the first time in six years; a group of future projects in determining how to better automate our financial reports that involves less manual manipulation of data to get it in the format that we need in our particular business, off-loading some of my more routine tasks to my subordinates so that I can be more visionary and less tied down by details. And there will be challenges after that I am sure. Leadership is all about seeing challenges, preparing for them, and executing plans for them when they get here. Leadership is never static. It is always evolving and moving ahead.

 

These have been the great challenges after I took over as comptroller. However, none of them was a great as the challenge that initial challenge of taking over as the head finance guy at my company 8 years ago. It was the biggest challenge of my life as a leader to that point. Most of working career I had worked as a staffer or as a senior staffer in internal audit departments. I had been the sole internal auditor before – working alone in my function. I had been an internal audit department head before. However, in that case, I was providing leadership from afar with 4 field auditors spread out over the footprint of a finance company that operated in 17 mostly Southern or Southwestern states. This would be the first time that I would lead people that were right there in the same building with me. They say leadership is leadership no matter what. But leading people on-site vs. remotely is a whole different ballgame.

 

When I came on board at Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI) as comptroller eight years ago, that was the biggest challenge of all for many reasons. In that, I can identify with Joshua as he stood before the biggest challenge of his life to that point. He had been the guy under the guy for forty years (talk about patiently waiting your turn!). Now, this mass of people all around him day to day was his charge to lead. It was his first time as the leader of a nation. No big deal, huh! It was similar for me eight years ago. I had never led a finance department before. I had never led people that were going to be around me every day before. As a senior internal auditor at Fluor Corp, I had led project audits before but that was an audit by audit thing and not the same. This was the real deal. Leadership of people that you were working with day to day. Add on top of that, the department was in complete disarray. The company had tried to hire the cheapest leadership it could for the finance group for the past six years and had gone through three comptrollers in that time. Each one was over their head in the job and had failed miserably, all three of them. In that six years, the department’s financial reporting was less and less trustworthy and the employees in the department were all marching to their own drummer in the face of incompetent leadership. FAI’s financial data was not trustworthy and the incompetence of the comptrollers before me made FAI the laughing stock of the whole US group of Fujikura companies. Nobody at the US parent company headquarters could trust any reports or data that came out of FAI. When I came on board, I stepped into the biggest mess and biggest challenge of my working career. I had seen messed up financials before as an internal auditor. In those cases, I had written voluminous audit reports of all the things that were wrong that management had to fix and then moved on to the next audit. Now, it was up to me to identify what was wrong but also to fix it. It was a long, hard battle.

 

That first year on the job involved establishing firm leadership – an expectation of excellence. It involved reviewing everything that my people did and throwing work back to employees that was substandard. It was teaching about basic accounting. It was teaching about learning what your customers, internal though they may be, want and providing it to them in that manner. It was tough creating the discipline of excellence from a “throw anything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality that had existed. It involved extensive research for sometimes up to six years to figure out what was in our balance sheet accounts. When I got there, no balance sheet accounts had been reconciled in six years or more. It was like creating the history of the company from scratch. It was establishing procedures and writing policies and establishing standards. It was the toughest task of my working career. In those first few weeks after I took over, it was like “oh, crap! What have I gotten myself into.” I kind of had an idea that things were in disarray at FAI because I had worked for the corporate office of the US parent company for one year as a compliance auditor for the previous year. I knew FAI was screwed up but I really did not know how bad it was until I took over. The previous comptroller was no help as far as training me on my task ahead. She was a complete idiot when it came to accounting and leading a finance department. So, I was thrown in there to figure it all out on the fly. It was a great big ol’ hairy challenge.

 

I sometimes wonder why God put me into that position. There are surely more people out there that are smarter. I have known this throughout my career. There are plenty and I mean plenty that are smarter than me when it comes to financial and auditing knowledge. So, why, this little old boy from Travelers Rest that is not the sharpest tool in the shed was able to make an ever upward career in accounting is a miracle from God anyway, much less being put in this challenging situation. I was really scared at first. The problems seemed so big and so many. I hardly knew where to start. It was a challenge that I did not know if I was ready for it or not. I think it was Martin Luther King, Jr. that once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This was my time of challenge. This was my moment to step up with runners on second and third and either strike out to end the game in a loss or slam a home run into the left field bleachers to win the game. Was I up to the challenge in this pressure-packed moment? Was I going to harness my fears and take on the challenge or was I going to cower in the corner and continue the legacy of not-so-much at FAI’s finance department. It was going to take courage. It was going to involve establishing discipline among employees, defining responsibilities and establishing expectations of excellence, firing incompetent employees – all that fun stuff of leadership and the reasons so few choose to lead.

 

My experience shows you that we face challenges in whatever we do every day. We do not have to be leaders of major corporations, major organizations, large churches, large anything. Each of us no matter what job we have face challenges in our jobs of all kinds and at all levels. We all come across challenges that we may not think that we are ready for.

 

That’s the thing that came across my mind this morning as I read through the first passage in Joshua this morning. How must have Joshua really felt inside when it was his turn to lead and it was not like he was going to just maintain. He had a major, major challenge ahead. You are the leader now but hey Joshua just as you are beginning your leadership of the nation…ummm…go conquer the Promised Land. No big deal just conquering a vast expanse of land already occupied by entrenched people groups. No small task as you take over the nation. You can do it! Man, what a situation Joshua was walking into.

 

We are going to spend a couple of blogs on this first passage but for today we will focus on how Joshua must have felt when taking over after Moses as we read through Joshua 1:1-9 today:

 

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “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. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

 

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

In this passage, we see that Joshua has succeeded Moses as Israel’s leader. What qualifications did he have? First, God appointed him to be the next leader (see Numbers 27:18-23). Second, he was one of only two adults who had witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt. Third, he was Moses assistant for 40 years. Finally, only he and Caleb showed complete confidence that God would help them conquer the land.

 

That’s the thing here. God knew that Joshua was the right man for the job even if Joshua did not think so himself. God saw something in Joshua that was going to be useful to the kingdom. I know that in those early days as comptroller of FAI, I did not know if I was up to the task. However, as time progressed, I realized that God had put my career together as he did even some of the bad stuff that has happened to me in my career as preparation for this moment in time. All of it was preparation to do what I am doing now. This moment in time is where not only have I accomplished the initial task but it has allowed me to guide our team through rough waters after that. That initial challenge was great but once I got through it any challenge after that I know that I can get through it.

 

At the same time, these past years at the same time I have been at FAI has been a time of great maturation in Christ. That is no coincidence. I have become a leader in my church and all of that was because God felt I was ready for this challenge in my job 8 years ago. All of it works together. God knows stuff about me that I don’t know yet. He has great challenges ahead of me that I don’t know about yet. But if it were not for the confidence that He has given me and showing me that I can lead and I can conquer challenges that I will be ready, not because I am cocky but because I have grown to trust in the Lord – because He has shown me what depending on Him can do for me. He will lead you and me both to great feats that we did not think we could do before. He is preparing you and me right now for the next great challenge. Depend on Him. Through dependence on Him, we can be bold. We can be strong. We can be courageous.

 

We just have to depend on Him to get us through our challenges. Depend on Him to show you the way -whether it leading a nation, leading a company, leading a church, leading an organization, leading a department, leading your family.

 

Amen and Amen.

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