Ensuring succession

Among the great leaders of the Old Testament, Moses stands out as a ‘giant’ whose leadership shadow is cast across human experience. He was born in dangerous times, launched as a baby into the Nile, raised in luxury, and learned to live successively with privilege, in obscurity and with the constant pressures of leadership. In his leadership years, his name is forever linked with Joshua, the young man who would come to succeed him and finish the work he started. Joshua was prepared for succession over a lengthy period. The preparation included watching Moses lead, engaging the enemy at Moses’ command, spying out the land and, most importantly, waiting in the presence of God. Some of the preparation was arranged by Moses – God used what Moses arranged but added his own ‘masterclass’ as well.

This linkage of a leader with a successor is not uncommon in Scripture. Abraham, the patriarch, is linked forever with his son and grandson. Elijah is linked to Elisha, Samuel with David, Paul with Timothy with many more beside. These are not accidental connections that simply punctuate history but strategic generational links by which the purpose of God is carried forward. These links are sometimes expressed through families – God’s purpose often runs in families – but, ultimately, takes priority over other considerations. These links allow the strength of revelation and experience delivered into one person to be carried forward as a platform so that succeeding generations will go higher, further, deeper.

It is, of course, one of the many challenges for leaders in every generation – to raise up leaders for the next generation. It is a challenge so important that it cannot be deferred. Jesus called the Twelve at the beginning of his public ministry and worked with them until the end.

It is wisdom – not partiality or favouritism – to identify and intentionally work to prepare those who will continue after you. Leaders realise that raising more leaders is one of the key responsibilities of leadership. Our mission and the world we serve need a church led by those who have been carefully and intentionally prepared for their role.

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