I like Joshua’s style in Joshua 24:14–15. Like a good leader, he laid out the facts. He exhorted those about him to get off the fence and get their spiritual act together. He encouraged personal authenticity and strong commitment...but not once did he pull rank and fall back on intimidation to get his way. He risked being ignored and rejected when he left the final decision up to them. He respected their right to follow his advice or walk away when he told them, in so many words, “Make up your mind!” But there was never any question where he stood. He had weighed the evidence, considered the alternatives, and come to a settled conviction—he and his family were going to serve the Lord God, no question about it. But what others would do was strictly up to them. They would have to decide for themselves.
Unusual combination. A strong leader who knew where he was going, but gave others the space they needed to choose for themselves. No threats. No name-calling. No public put-downs. No exploitation or manipulation or humiliation. He didn’t play on their emotions or attack their alleged ignorance or use some gimmick to gain strokes in defence of his position. He knew what God would have him do, and he realized the consequences of their choosing differently...but they needed to weigh those issues for themselves. It needed to be their decision, not his. At that point, he backed off and said, “Now you decide.”
That’s not only smart, it’s an evidence of two admirable virtues: security in himself and respect for others. Today, it is clear to all of us that Joshua made the right decision back then. From our objective perspective, he chose the correct alternative...as they also did later on. But note again that he didn’t hurry his people to opt for his position. Joshua knew that if they didn’t wrestle with the issues on their own, the resulting decision might be superficial...fragile...a commitment that might very well melt under the inevitable heat of difficulty and trial.
Nevertheless, there will always be some who want others to make their decisions for them. Many individuals in Christendom are continually looking for some evangelical guru or superstar pastor or bionic authority figure to co-sign for their lives.
It takes the restraining power of the Holy Spirit to withstand such tempting invitations to take control. It is helpful to remember that every time we yield to that destructive desire for power we retard others’ growth toward maturity. Making one’s own decisions develops healthy mental muscles. But I repeat, there will always be a few who crave to be told what to do. They are the ones who remain so indecisive their favourite colour is plaid.
We’ll talk more about acting decisively tomorrow.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.