the shape of leadership

The Tipping Point of Leadership

Why courage can make all the difference

As a church leader, you want to deliver great outcomes, influence people toward noble visions, and mobilize teams for widespread impact. Scripture provides many examples of leaders who did just that — people like Nehemiah, David and Joshua, who accomplished extraordinary things for God.

Each of those leaders shared a common, defining-moment quality that became the tipping point of their leadership: courage.

Courage tips the scales. Courage opens the door. Courage gets the ball rolling. Without courage, leaders are forgotten in the graveyard of mediocrity.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, said, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone made a courageous decision.”

The same is true in the Church. Anytime you see a church that is thriving, a pastor made a courageous, God-honoring decision — likely a series of such decisions — along with the help of a courageous team. Those decisions set off a chain reaction that delivered outcomes most leaders only dream about.

Without the tipping point of courage, leadership doesn’t exist.

In the opening verses of Joshua, we see this tipping point come to life. God instructs Joshua to be strong and courageous in two areas: vision and obedience.

First, God inspires Joshua with a courageous vision when He tells him to cross the Jordan River and stake claim to the land God promised to give His people. In Joshua 1:6, God says to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

Before you can take courageous action, you must first possess a courageous, God-inspired vision. Visions of business as usual don’t require an ounce of courage.

Are you willing to act courageously on your God-given vision, with God-honoring obedience?

Second, God inspires Joshua to be courageously obedient, telling him, “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. 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” (verses 7-8).

Courageous visions attract criticism and trials. In those moments, you may feel tempted to compromise your values and pursue the path of least resistance. That’s where courageous obedience comes into play. It provides the conviction, backbone and resolve to bring courageous visions within reach. It’s also the moral compass that keeps first things first.

Unfortunately, these two qualities are where many leaders hit the brakes. They receive a courageous vision and instructions to remain courageously obedient, but then they retreat. Fear writes the next chapter of their life and leadership.

But that wouldn’t be Joshua’s story. Instead, Joshua adds a healthy dose of courageous action to his courageous vision and obedience.

According to verses 10-11, “Joshua ordered the officers of the people: ‘Go through the camp and tell the people, “Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.”’”

Joshua didn’t waste any time when the Lord spoke. He acted courageously. That was the true tipping point of Joshua’s leadership.

The same will be true for you. Your leadership isn’t defined by your intentions but by your actions. People won’t remember your leadership for what God told you to do but for what you actually did. Courage defines the moment. The question is this: Are you willing to act courageously on your God-given vision, with God-honoring obedience?

Notice that Joshua’s courageous action didn’t just tip his leadership scale; it also tipped the scale of the people who were following him. Verse 16 says, “Then they answered Joshua, ‘Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.’”

While your courageous leadership may disrupt comfortable routines, it also has the power to bolster your team toward an inspiring vision for the future. Courage is a personal and corporate catalyst. It’s the tipping point that thrusts your leadership, and the dreams God births inside you, into reality.


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