Joshua was Moses’ servant for more than 40 years before it was his turn to lead. 40 years! That’s an incredibly long time to be the number two. And a great deal of that time was spent walking around in a desert, waiting for an entire generation to die because of their sins. Yet nowhere does Scripture mention Joshua complaining, offering critique, or trying to change his circumstances. He served faithfully while waiting on God.
Joshua was content to serve, to be a follower for 40 years. He became the trusted assistant to Moses, who by all accounts, wasn’t the easiest leader to serve. Moses had a nasty temper, his family was involved in ministry and not doing a very good job of it (think of Aaron and the Golden Calf), and he was not good at delegating. Yet Joshua served Moses faithfully.
Sure, he got some important assignments. Early in his ‘career’, Joshua was picked to represent his tribe as a spy and visit the promised land. Well, that didn’t turn out so well because of his fellow spies and their lack of faith in God. Yet Joshua stood his ground and together with Caleb represented the minority view. He ended up wandering around the desert for nearly 40 years because of the sins of others. Yet Joshua served faithfully.
He also defeated the Amalekites when he was still young (Exodus 17), a victory brought on by Moses’ intercessory prayer for him. But even after this huge victory, nothing changed for Joshua. He didn’t get a promotion or even a big ‘thank you’ as far as we know. Yet he served faithfully.
Joshua spent a huge part of his life waiting for God to call him. He didn’t try and advance his career, he didn’t lobby for his viewpoints, and he didn’t campaign for a different position. He didn’t even apply to be Moses’ servant. God chose him and Joshua obeyed. Joshua didn’t long for power and glory; he was content being in Moses’ shadow and waiting. He served faithfully as the second in command for forty years and patiently waited on God.
And when God did finally call him, Joshua was ready: shaped and transformed by years of faithful service. When Joshua did lead, the people followed him. Nowhere in Scripture do we see any mention of the people rebelling against Joshua’s leadership as they did with Moses, or questioning his decisions. Joshua led and the people followed because they recognized a God-obeying leader when they saw one.
Are you content to wait on God’s calling? To serve faithfully in whatever role you have, under whomever God has placed above you? God may use these years to shape you and transform your character so you’ll be ready when he calls you for the next step.
The question is: are you waiting on God, while serving faithfully, like Joshua did?