by Bishop Tony Miller
As someone who has spent the last 25 years equipping leaders and kingdom change agents, it is quite evident that those of us who lead in local churches and ministries are sensing the internal pressure, the ‘birth pangs’ of the Spirit, as heaven orchestrates a 21st century spiritual reformation. With cultural and gene-rational paradigm shifts taking place, the challenge for every leader is how to lead in the shift!
One of the great leaders of historical significance and tactical precision was Alexander the Great. His strategic mind and military plans were so incredible they are studied in all of our major war colleges even today. Legend has it that one day as his army from Macedonia was moving eastward along the known travel and trade routes, on a mission to conqueror new territory and expand Alexander’s empire, they came to a sudden stop. Alexander himself was riding back among the his soldiers when word reached him that the army had stopped because of a river that was in front of them. Angered by their hesitation he quickly rode to the front to see what was hindering them from their forward march. What he found was a discovery every leader faces at some point in their lifetime of leading.
See what he discovered was this – it was not that the river was to difficult or to big to cross that challenged this mighty advancing army, bringing them to a complete stop. Rather, it was what this river represented. Be-cause Alexander the Great’s army was advancing according to the maps that had drawn up by the ancient mapmakers of the west, and because their world was limited by what they had been told by others or personally experienced, their maps ended at this river. To the mapmakers of his day, the world ended there! Though the army could see land existed beyond where they stood, fear overcame them. They knew that vast re-sources and treasures were still to be discovered in the regions before them. They were aware the empire could be expanded and people brought under their influence if they moved forward. They were also aware that their army had never been defeated! But, their map revealed a boundary line and now the unknown had captured their imagination and stolen their courage. What had once been a quick moving, confident force to be reckoned with, now had become a band of hesitant, intimidated warriors.
However, Alexander the Great, a man who possessed the heart of a world-conqueror, knew that this river was no match for what was in heart to accomplish. So, as the story goes, riding up from among the army, he stopped and got down from his horse to speak with his lead scouts. Confirmation came from them that their maps did not show any territory beyond where they were standing. They sought to explain to this champion warrior how even though they could see land across the river, their recommendation to him was to stop the advance. Think about it, they had the re-sources, the power, and the skill to take new territory, but their fear of going beyond what was already known was attempting to rob them of their potential victory and expanded influence!
At that point, after hearing the reasons why he shouldn’t, Alexander the Great took the reins of his horse, stepped into the river and walks across, signaling his army to follow him. Bolstered by his courage the army followed his leadership and marched forward into the new territory. As a results of this demonstration of courage, territories were conquered and the expansion of his empire reached to regions never before known. That day, Alexander the Great walked off his map!
As people called to expand the influence of the Kingdom of God in every sphere of our culture and to take territory for our King, often our greatest fears are conceived in the womb of our own limited, restrictive mindsets. Thought patterns that resist change and forward movement. Ideology created by other’s limited experiences and/or our own lack of exposure. Either way, you can be sure that God is commit-ted bringing a new generation of leaders to the banks of a river and inviting them to cross over!
The book of Joshua gives us in-sight into such an invitation. A new type of leader begins to emerge in this book of transition. One that had been trained in the ways of the Lord by his fathers’ in the faith, but yet refused to be limited by their fears and insecurities. A transformational leader that would embrace the required courage to lead the church into a new order.
In Joshua 1:2, there is a sudden announcement that takes place, changing years of disappointment and opening the way for a new day of opportunity – “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan … unto the land which I do give you”.
There are two principles in this passage that every leader is challenged with when confronting barriers that have sought to hinder their advance. Let’s look at them …
First is this, a changeless God is always working change in me! “Moses is dead”! Moses had been the great liberator and deliverer of Israel. It was by his faith and obedience that 2 million people had been brought out of slavery and into a place of possibility. What a hero! Can’t you imagine the people’s thoughts – “this is wonderful … this is the greatest thing ever”! But, suddenly God shifts! Moses is dead and God killed him!!
Okay, I realize that may be a bit strong to say, so let me restate it in more pleasant terms. One day God and Moses went off on a walk and only God came back. And when he returned he said, “Moses’ dead”!!
The point is this, Moses had been a great leader. He had been used by God to bring the people of Israel to a place of deliverance. God never minimizes Moses or his impact. He just announces that season is over! Joshua is not a better man, he’s the next man. The temptation for many of us is to resist anything that demands change because we are constantly comparing the new by the old, trying to determine “what is better” or “wasn’t the ‘Moses’ season better”. There’s only one problem – Moses had been for-bidden by God to enter the pro-mise land due to his disobedience, thus hindering the possibility of the entire nation entering as long as he was leading.
In other words, there are some things in our life that God brings to an end for our benefit and His purposes! If He didn’t “kill” them, we never would! His desire for us is not a life of endlessly wandering in the wilderness of dysfunction and immaturity, de-pendent on a ‘miracle a day’ to keep us going. He’s heart for us is to bring us into a place of inheritance, one that demands we mature and grow in order to possess it. We become challenged to learn a new order. The futurist, Alvin Toffler, quoting one of his mentor once said, “The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read or write. Rather, they will be those that can-not learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Not only did God “kill Moses”, He buried him and no one knows where Moses is buried to this day! Here’s what I want you to see – some of the old seasons we keep wanting to bring back to life are not going to be resurrected. Sorry, but that season is over! Stop looking for those former relationships that He ended. Stop trying to recreate the atmosphere of the 90’s revival that so blessed your life! Stop longing to return to _____, you fill in the blank. He has so much more for you than a life of continually walking in circles, fighting the same battles, repeating the same cycles, or even going backward. Here is a prophetic word for every one of us that has chosen to accept the role of leadership in any dimension – “change is here to stay”! Learn to make the shift!!
When God extends an invitation into a new season, it demands we do something. Every new level we aspire to in our life requires a willingness to change! Not just a willingness to talk about, pray about or sing about change, but a willingness to CHANGE!! Change is not change until it is changed! My friends, it is through the process of change that the future invades our lives!
How many things have I sought in my life or ministry to keep alive long after the “life” has gone out of them? How often have we as leaders allowed the army we lead to come to a complete halt, or at best hesitated, because the possibilities in front of us don’t look like anything that is on our ‘map’? The old adage to all of us is “when the horse is dead, dismount”! Far too often we not only don’t dis-mount, we hold conferences and seminars on how to make dead horses look alive!
Will it cost you something to change? Misunderstanding? Uncomfortable days? Accusations by those who love their comfort zone more than their destiny? Sure!! All change constitutes loss. All loss has the potential to create conflict. That is why the risk of changing can never be evaluated by the probability of success alone, but by the worth and value of the goal that is being pursued!
Life is about two primary things – events and processes! Events are those catalytic moments (i.e. “Moses is dead” announcements, a word from the Lord that pierces our inner man, or maybe a conference we attend) that awaken us to the realities of where we are presently and the destiny moments that are calling us forward. Events become the catalyst pro-dding us toward faith. Processes are the steps required to obtain what the event awakened us to. Change is an event in our life, a decision. You can make the decision to change in a moment! But, transitioning is a process! Most leaders dreams don’t die in the visionary stage (catalytic event or launch), but rather in implementation! For them, it is the ability to navigate transitional processes that most often determine success or failure.
That’s why, secondly, Joshua was told, “now therefore, arise”! Joshua, what you have just learned about Moses has created a catalytic moment, now you must respond. The term “arise” here is interesting. It denote more than someone getting out of bed or a chair, rather, it was a military term, declaring to those who heard it – strike a stance! More specifically, posture yourself for movement. Get ready to cross over!
Friends, we cannot stay attached to obsolete ‘maps’ or ideology of the past when new possibilities are being offered! Global Positioning Satellites influence so much of our daily life, from cellphones to ATM machines, from television viewing to the execution of military warfare. In the same way our spiritual GPS must be properly “positioned” or we will find ourselves out of sync with God’s purposes and timing.
May I suggest, if we are to ever ‘walk off our map’ as 21st century leaders, our willingness to re-posture ourselves is paramount to our advance. The 21st century leader cannot be afraid to put up the maps of a previous generation and get out his compass, thus engaging divine opportunities with renewed faith and fresh creativity, confident that God is able! Maps are for those who desire to traverse where others have been. A compass is the lifeline of a pioneer who believes by faith he has the right direction!
In the life of spiritual leaders we must not minimize the effects of doubt and unbelief at such pivotal moments. It affects everything – the way we see ourselves, how we respond to opportunity, what we believe we possess as resources to accomplish the mission at hand. When unbelief becomes the posture of a leaders life, the-re is no passion for reformation or adventure, but rather a self-preservation that gives rise to risk aversion. When the willingness to operate by faith (informed risk) is forfeited, the result will be that we become less and less relevant to the people we have been sent to reach. Eventually our demise will become evident to all.
The precision required to effectively lead change in a continually fluid culture demands that we be able to respond well to forces out of our control that push us to innovation and adaptation. When our ‘map’ is suddenly limited as a guide for the future because it was drawn in a world that no longer exist!
So, the question for each of us to consider is this – am I stuck leading by the maps of a previous order or am choosing to-day to walk off my map? I am convinced that the church Jesus Christ is building has the built-in capacities for continual renewal of revelation al truth and practice, and that until the return of our Redeemer King and the culmination of all things, we will never reach a place of perfection. Thus, our lives should be lived in a state of permanent, ongoing, transformational change! Let’s walk
After receiving a mandate from the Lord for world harvest, Tony founded Destiny World Outreach in 1991. Destiny World Outreach is a national and international ministry with an emphasis on training and equipping 21st century leaders, both in churches and the marketplace. The primary means for accomplishing that mandate is being done through Destiny Conferences, Business Summits, The Des-tiny Network and Destiny Leadership Development Resources.
Having ministered in over 50 nations of the world, Tony and Kathy have had the privilege of training over 120,000 leaders. The passion of their life is to awaken people to the God-purposed potential that is inside of them and to equip them to fulfill that call. Known as a gifted communicator, the Word is preached with strong conviction and passion, challenging each listener to reach beyond mediocrity and toward a life filled with success and significance.