by Rick Warren
In Joshua 1 God gave Joshua an impossible assignment. He said, I want you to possess the land. But in Deuteronomy 7:1 the Bible tells us in the Promised Land there were seven enemy nations, each of whom individually were larger and stronger than Israel. So in order to possess the promised land they were going to have to knock out seven major enemies. Even the Promised Land has problems.
God never asks us to do anything without His help. He gave Joshua a five point strategy for success. That’s what we’re going to look at as this year ends and a new one begins — God’s strategy for success. The word “success” is used twice in this passage of scripture. In verse 7 and 8 we find the promise where God says, If you do what I have said, I guarantee you’ll be successful. Now, let’s look at those steps for God’s strategy for success.
Joshua 1:1 “After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, the son of Nun, `Moses, my servant, is dead. Now then, you and all of these people get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I’m about to give them [the Israelites]. In other words, this is graduation day. They’re getting ready to go into the land for the first time. I will give you every place where you set your foot as I promised Moses. Then He gets very specific and He defines exactly what Joshua is to take over. Your territory will extend from the desert and from Lebanon to the great river of the Euphrates, all the Hittite countries, and to the Great Sea on the west and no one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.”
What does this passage teach us? Five principles. Let’s spend this month looking at the first two.
1. BE CLEAR IN YOUR DIRECTION
That’s the starting point. God specifically outlines the What? the When? the Where? and the Why? Joshua was to take over the land. He says, This is what I want you to do. You need a clear cut goal. You don’t need a vague goal. You need a precise idea: Where am I headed in life? I talk to people all the time who come for counseling and they say, “I just don’t really know what I want in life. I’m frustrated with my marriage. I’m frustrated with my job.” I say, “Can you be a little more specific?” God wants us to know exactly where we’re headed and we need a clear (not a vague) goal.
2. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR DESIRES.
Typically, once you set a God-given goal, immediately after you set it, you begin to doubt it. You begin to question it. You begin to ask yourself things like, “Is this really God’s will?” “Does God really want me to have this? Do I really deserve it? Is this just a selfish request? What if I’m wrong?” Then you start second guessing yourself. The Bible says “A double minded man is unstable in all of his ways.” You have to not only be clear in your destination, your direction, what do you want out of life, but you have to be confident in that desire.
It reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon. It has Charlie Brown standing there and saying, “A pop fly! I’ve got it! It’s all mine.” Charlie Brown runs out. “If I catch this ball, we’ll win our first game of the season.” Then he starts praying, “Please! Please let me catch it. Please let me be the hero. Please let me catch it. Please!” The next column it says, “On the other hand, do I think I deserve to be the hero? The kid who hit it doesn’t want to be the goat. Is baseball a game really that important? Lots of kids all over the world never even heard of baseball. Lots of kids don’t even get a place to play at all or have a place to sleep or…” and just about that time the ball drops right in front of him. “Bonk!” Linus comes out and says, “Charlie Brown! How could you miss such an easy pop fly?” Charlie Brown says, “I prayed myself out of it.”
That’s typical. We start doubting the very goals that God gives us. You’ve got to have confidence. You’ve got to believe in God. You’ve got to believe in yourself. You have to believe that God wants to bless your life. You have to be confident in your desires.
Evidently, Joshua had a problem with this. Over and over he felt very inadequate. In this passage, God keeps having to give Joshua a pep talk. Four times in this passage, God says to Joshua, “You can do it! Go for it!” In verse 6 He says, “God says to Joshua, `Be strong and courageous.'” v. 7, He says, “Be strong and very courageous.” v. 9, He says, “Be strong and very courageous.” v. 18, He says, “Be strong and very courageous.” Four times! He’s trying to say, Get the point, Joshua!
The literal translation of this in Hebrew, and this is the way the Good News Bible translates it, is “Be determined and confident.” Joshua, believe! Believe I can do it. Believe you can do it. “Be determined and confident.”
Why does God say that? Fear, not problems, keeps you in the wilderness. It’s not the problems of the Promised Land. Even the Promised Land has problems. It has giants in it. You have problems wherever you are. But it’s fear that keeps you in the wilderness and you must be confident in your desires.
When you are committed to doing the will of God, God can speak through your desires. God can use your desires as guiding steps when you are sincerely saying, “God, I’m determined to do Your will.” Be clear in your direction and be confident in your desires.
There are some things that rob us of confidence. Typically, three things:
1. Experience. Experience robs us of confidence. You say, “Experience should make me more confident!” Not always. It depends on what kinds of experiences you’ve had. If you’ve had a bunch of failures, heartbreaks and hurts you might have a tendency to say, “It’s never worked before. It’s never been done before. Why should I try again? I’ve always failed.” Sometimes inexperience is an asset because you don’t know it’s impossible. You just go ahead and try to do it anyway. Never let a bad memory ruin your future. A bad experience can rob you of confidence. Don’t let it.
2. Emotions can rob you of confidence. A lot of people — most people — tend to make decisions based on their moods. They say things like, “I don’t feel like it! I’m just too tired.” If you’re going to be successful, you have to learn to master your moods. Most of the things that are accomplished in life are accomplished by people who didn’t feel like doing it at the time. Never make a major decision when you’re down.
3. Excuses. Rationalizations or justifications. Things like, “I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the education.” All of these are excuses. The Bible says “You have not because you ask not.” So don’t use it as an excuse; use it as a prayer request.
Join me next month as I continue looking at God’s strategy for your success.
Rick Warren is the Founding Pastor of Saddleback Church. He is also the author of the bestselling books, Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church.