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Chapter XII Joshua (The Art of Influencing Others) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   

From Numbers 14:6-9 we can learn a little about a man named Joshua. Joshua was a leader who really understood the importance of being able to influence, not manipulate, others. Joshua was a man who understood that it took a period of time to become a very influential leader, a fact all too often overlooked (sometimes intentionally) by many people who are seeking positions of leadership in our current “fast food society”.

Time, I believe, is a key factor in developing the “Principle of Influence”. I have meet too many leaders in both my military and law enforcement careers who felt command, control, authority or power would be the only real evidence of leadership their subordinates and superiors alike could recognize. While power and leadership are definitively not mutually exclusive, there is an old military proverb that clarifies the difference quite emphatically. It simple states what should be the obvious and goes like this, “Leadership is power, but power is not leadership”. I learned a lot more in my climb toward humility and leadership. It has been a tough climb with few rest areas so lets keep going.

I believe this comparison of the terms "Leadership" and "Power" means that while it is a fact that one true measure of leadership is the influence or power that is vested in the position you occupy in the chain-of-command, it is also a compelling fact that leadership and influence can and should never be based on position alone. For example, when the optimistic (and rightly so) Joshua returned with Caleb and the other ten spies from their recon mission in the land of Canaan, the land which God had promised to deliver into the hands of the Israelites, his position as a young tribal leader and its allied influence was insufficient, even when combined with the slightly advanced leadership of Caleb, to convince the other Israelite leaders to follow their recommendations. Though Joshua was definitely considered a leader and held the commensurate power of his position, at that time in his life he still lacked sufficient influence to persuade others to follow his lead.

Now let's take a look at some of the factors that I feel affect the nature of a person's influence, shall we?

First let me say that I do not feel influence is unilaterally effective.  I mean that just because you hold a position of leadership, does not mean you will get people to follow you. Though Joshua was a leader, his influence was inadequate to over come the influence of other leaders, which seems to validate the indicative  presumption that varying levels of influence exist within any organization and it's integrated chains-of-command. I used the plural here because only a naïve leader or a myopic one ignores the fact that one of the most integral chains of command is the informal one that exists in all organizations. It takes a wise and mature leader to know and understand their true authority and the limits and capabilities of the control they actually exercise.

Another thing of which I am absolutely convinced is that influence can be and often is employed both positively and negatively. While Joshua and Caleb took one position (the affirmative) regarding the invasion of Canaan (I believe history indicates their view was the right one), ten other leaders took an opposing view (the negative) and prevailed. This indicates clearly that influence cuts like a two edged sword, leading those who follow either to victory or leading them astray and to defeat. This places a great responsibility on leaders to be concerned for the welfare of others, especially their followers.

I have seen countless instances in my lifetime where influence or rather the power of that influence, has adversely affected the personal motivations of leaders and subsequently similarly impacted the lives of their followers. Joshua and Caleb had a desire to motivate their countrymen toward something that would benefit all of them and held steadfastly to that position even though it was neither popular nor the one that was finally acted upon. That should be the aspiration of all great leaders. Not compromising on what a leader feels is right and maintaining that integrity in the face of even insurmountable opposition lays the foundation for organizational and national honor. In the case of Joshua and Caleb, as in many cases today, the prevailing influence of the ten negative and false intelligence reports which were based on the personal fears, ambitions or desires of those leaders and led to an insurrection among the people. There were some who even sought to depose Moses and Aaron and return to Egypt. The result of the misuse of influence for these ten, you will remember, was that they all died of plague and their followers too died in the desert. That does not sound like an admirable epitaph to me.

Let's look for a moment at some more reasons I feel for how and why Joshua's influence matured and flourished. I think another reason it grew stronger is because of his association with the good leadership of Moses. If you want to grow in influence, then seek access to and accept the mentoring of other good leaders and by virtue of their acceptance, inclusion in their circles' of influence and tutelage you will expand your ability to polish your own leadership skills and as you grow you will inherit the respect of their followers as is indicated in Deuteronomy 31:1-8, 23.


I also believe Joshua's influence grew over a period of time, as his maturity simultaneously developed. It is obvious to most scholars that Joshua gave nearly the same speech in Numbers 14 that he gave in Joshua 18 but with completely different results. Why was that? What made the difference? I believe there are multiple reasons. First it was because he was talking to a completely different generation, a generation that had seen his skills in action grow, his authority become validated and a generation that knew of his successful track record. His leadership trait of confidence was also solidifying and interacting with his maturing power and thus increased the influence Joshua had over the people.

Another reason it had a stronger impact I feel is because of the timing. The Israelites had grown tired of wandering and were ready for a change. Understanding the wants and needs of your followers will help you detect the right time to use your influence most effectively, just as Joshua did in Joshua 1:16-18.

Joshua's influence also increased because of the impact of his patience and integrity. Even though forced to wander for 40 years through the wilderness because of a decision they had no control over and one that was contrary to any decision they would have made, Joshua and Caleb never became cynical, melancholy, angry or disgruntled. Even though they may have felt subjected to an unfair turn of events, they continued to display faithfulness, credibility, consistency and integrity, resulting in their being the only two leaders to recon the land of Canaan that lived to return there and lead their people to victory as we learn from Joshua 1:5-9.

Finally I am convinced Joshua's influence grew because he was right, right in the eyes of God. Standing for what is right is a attribute necessary for any leader and defending what is right in the face of political expediency, popularity and personal gain is called moral courage. If your motivations and efforts remain true, then they will stand the eternal test of time.

In conclusion, while it may be true that leadership is influential, when it comes right down to it, that influence is based primarily on a leader's character, compassion and the strength of their convictions. If you desire to become a leader who can rely on the accomplishments of their followers and not exploit them, then why don't you give your own leadership a 10,000 mile check up? How do your character, compassion and the strength of your conviction and motivations stack up against those of Joshua?

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