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Succeeding a Great Leader

Joshua and Moses Joshua 1:1–18

What Moses did?

  1. Saw potential in Joshua Exodus 17:8–16 (Joshua is selected by Moses to lead the Israelite army into battle against the Amalekites).
  2. Mentored Joshua Exodus 24:13, Exodus 32:19 (Joshua is with Moses when he receives the 10 commandments and when he smashes them).
  3. Gave Joshua responsibilities Exodus 33:11, Numbers 13:8 (Joshua guarded the tent of meeting, chosen as one of the 12 spies).
  4. Put Joshua in place with a title and blessing Numbers 27:16,17, Joshua 1:1-18 (Moses commissioned Joshua as the next leader).

What Joshua did?

  1. Earned the respect from his tribe Numbers 13:8 (chosen to represent his tribe as a spy)
  2. Earned the respect of Moses Exodus 24:13, Exodus 32:19 (invited to join with Moses when he receives the 10 commandments and when he smashes them)
  3. Learned to value hear God’s voice Exodus 33:11 (lived in the Tent of Meeting)
  4. Overcame his heart issues Joshua 1:1-18 (be strong and courageous)

Lessons Sandra and I Learned

  1. We needed to prepare ourselves for the next role
    • I went for ministry to be able to say “No.”
    • We listened to John and Carol to get their vision for the church
    • We stepped into roles that weren’t yet ours, such as learning to letting people go from staff
    • I started upgrading my business acumen
    • Sandra took a public speaking course and started preaching more often
    • I gathered executives around me for them to help me grow into the role
  2. We needed to give John and Carol lots of space
    • We understood that this transition was more traumatic for them than for us
    • We understood that they were still the leaders despite a title change
    • We understood that their role as a mentor was even more valuable
    • We need to honour them well in public and private spaces
  3. We need to start the process now for our successor
    • We talk to John and Carol about people we are thinking about
    • We give opportunities for the candidates to connect personally with John and Carol and ourselves
    • We let potential candidates know that they are potential candidates
    • We are continuing to listen to the Lord as to who it is

What Went Well in our Transition

  1. We were functioning as Senior Associate Pastors for 3 years prior to the title change – we were doing the job before the title
  2. We had a quick transition – We knew 6 months before the announcement was made that we were on deck. The church had 3 months notice.
  3. We had a public blessing – John and Carol laid hands on us. Colin Dye preached our induction sermon.
  4. We had raised up most of the second generation leaders so they were already following us.

What Was Challenging in our Transition

  1. We knew the great leaders that John and Carol didn’t choose would probably move on
  2. We underestimated the weight of being the Senior Leaders – emotional drain when we are responsible to fix finances, relationships, etc.
  3. We lost strong friendships with our associate pastors – we switched from being colleagues/great friends to being their boss/friends. Now they complained about us and not John and Carol!

Seven Rules For Succeeding As A Brand-New Leader

Rule 1: Leverage your time before entry
Rule 2: Organize to learn
Rule 3: Secure early wins
Rule 4: Lay the foundation for success
Rule 5: Construct a personal vision
Rule 6: Build alliances
Rule 7: Manage yourself
It’s up to you.

Michael D. Watkins is the author of Your Next Move: The Leader’s Guide to Navigating Major Career Transitions.

Second In Command by Dutch & Jackson, Chris Sheets
– Great book that John gave me while the Senior Associate. It helped me to understand my role as a second, and prepared me for being the leader.


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