Slaying the Giant of Loneliness
"It's always lonely at the top."
Have you ever noticed how funny people behave when one person gets promoted to a leadership position? This person could start out on the same level as everyone else. Maybe they were even close friends with those they worked with, but as soon as that title is stamped on their forehead, people have a way of shying away. They'll say things like, "Oh... well I can't tell you, you're the boss..." Or "I can't tell you, you're the ______..." The leader doesn't change, just the title does and still, the people around them shy away.
Loneliness in leadership is a common complaint. People who were your friends, suddenly aren't.
I remember being "promoted" within a ministry that ended up with me mentoring a friend of mine. I had already been doing the work of mentor, which is why the leaders felt that I would make a good mentor for this girl. As soon as my new "title" was announced, this girl wouldn't talk to me anymore. Hard to have that sort of mentoring relationship, in fact, it becomes not much of a relationship and not much mentoring was able to go on.
I think of many times in my life in which little promotions like that made people shy away from me. I didn't change, but the title seemed to follow me around like a huge neon sign above my head. No matter what I did, I couldn't get my friends to focus on me rather than that title. It became so lonely. Many tears have been shed over this very problem.
So when I read Joshua 1, I can't help but think of how lonely Joshua probably felt.
Read Joshua 1
Joshua 1 picks up just after the death of Moses. It's easy to gloss over this fact. Moses was Joshua's mentor. Before we move on, let's remember the fact that Joshua was grieving as God spoke to him here. His friend and his mentor had just died. Let that sink in.
Related Post: What's Holding You Back: Grief
As Joshua begins to mourn Moses, their people were in need of a leader. God comes in and calls Joshua into this leadership position. Picking up where Moses left off. Joshua would lead these people into the Promised Land. They'd been waiting for this (entering the Promised Land) for decades!
Joshua wasn't a stranger to leadership. He had observed Moses lead the people and he stood among them. He had heard Israel's grumblings against the leadership and against God. He had heard this with his own ears and had seen it with his own eyes. I mean, how many of us would volunteer to be a president of a country? None of us are blind or deaf to how the crowd treats a leader. Do you think the grumblings and the difficulty of leadership weighed on Joshua's mind? He was called to lead these people, knowing exactly how they could be.
So not only was Joshua grieving, but he was facing the challenge of becoming Israel's new leader. That's a lot to take on, don't you think?
It's easy for someone to feel alone in this position. The person he would have gone to ask questions and advice of was dead. The one person who understood this role better than anyone else was gone. Plus, now these people would be looking to Joshua to lead them. That responsibility is a heavy one!
When I think about loneliness in leadership, I've come to notice one little tidbit. One little truth that we can really walk away with... God will provide. Moses had been in Joshua's shoes. He had been called to lead God's people. He had been called to step into this role of leader, to deal with their gripes, complaints, shortcomings, and successes, and victories, and joys. Did you notice how God had provided a few supporters and friends? First, God had provided Aaron to go with Moses to tell Pharaoh to let God's people go. Then Joshua had come alongside him. There were others along the way, too. His father in law and his sister to name a few.
No matter what kind of lonely position we find ourselves in, look for the encouragers. Look for the person (or people) God puts in your life to encourage, strengthen, and hold you accountable. Look for those who want the best for you. Sometimes they're the people we expect and even want. Other times, they're the people who are kind of invisible, the ones we don't give credit to. Maybe their name isn't the name of the one you'd like to have by your side, but it doesn't mean that God will use them any less, in fact, He's probably using them more. God provides every time. God hears your cries for friendship and He answers them.
So, how can we slay the giant of loneliness?
Lean into God.
Related Post: One Year Later... Love Looks Different
God tells Joshua that He will be with him. From that, Joshua could be strong and courageous. Joshua could take on the challenge of leading God's people.
God tells Joshua to meditate on the law. To meditate on it day and night so that the Law wasn't too far away from Joshua's lips and actions. For us, we have the benefit of reading the whole Bible. Read it all. Watch how God provides for His people. Watch how God cares for you and me. Seek God by reading His Word.
When we feel lonely, God is within reach. We just have to pray and know that He hears us. We just have to reach out to Him and know that He is close. Reach out to God and ask Him to clearly show you that you are not alone.