After Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh receive their land grants, things come to a sudden stop. The remaining tribes don’t seem overly eager to get their territories. Instead, they settle in at Shiloh. So Joshua comes up with a plan to get things moving: he asks for three men from each of the remaining seven tribes and sends them to survey the rest of the land. After the scouting party returns, Joshua proceeds with land assignments. The remainder of chapter 18 focuses on the territory given to Benjamin. Here are three leadership lessons that I found helpful in this chapter.
Leaders motivate those going slow.
Joshua’s words to the remaining seven tribes express exasperation: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers, has given you?” (18:3) We aren’t told why these tribes were reticent to move from Shiloh and begin the process of possessing their inheritance. Perhaps it was fatigue. Perhaps it was fear of future fights. Maybe they enjoyed the comfort of the larger group. Whatever the reason, these tribes didn’t show the same eagerness to receive their inheritance as Judah, Ephraim or Manasseh (on the west of the Jordan) or Gad, Reuben and Manasseh (on the east side of the Jordan). So Joshua pushed the stragglers to take action. Here’s a reminder to all leaders: part of our job is to get people going when they get stalled.
Leaders move people forward by breaking big tasks into smaller steps.
At first glance, Joshua’s plan to re-survey the land seems to elongate the process of distributing the Promised Land. Twenty-one men (three men from each of the seven tribes) were dispatched to carefully map out the remaining territory and divide it into seven parts. Travelling, mapping and negotiating the divisions would take time. But Joshua sensed this “delay” would actually expedite the whole process. He also understood a key leadership lesson: breaking big tasks into smaller steps can help the timid or intimidated get moving.
Leaders gain ownership by increasing involvement.
Joshua got the seven tribes involved in selecting their representatives to survey the land (18:4). Next, he gave specific instructions to those who had been selected. There involvement would insure the divisions were fair and would foster ownership of the outcome. Those in leadership should take note: when people feel a greater ownership in the task, they tend to show greater involvement in the task.
Which of these leadership lessons strikes you as one you need to remember?