What would it look like to get to the end of a busy season, a semester, a year…a life even, and have more and more to give than ever before?

Caleb is my go-to for leadership inspiration…the image of him as an 85-year-old man still rearing to go, still ready to fight, is awesome.

Throughout his whole story we read the mantra: “Caleb followed God wholeheartedly.”

I’ve blogged about Caleb before, but I am always convicted by his example. Never falling into bitterness or cynicism Caleb’s enthusiasm only grows and strengthens with time. He seems to have more and more to give.

I want to be like that. I want to be wholehearted.

Faith and Doubt

There is a sort of faith

That is too small to comprehend

How high and wide and deep and long are the mysteries

Of a love that surpasses our ability to know.

And there is a sort of doubt

That is too confident

To admit that there is more to the world

Than what we can see and touch and prove and measure.

Beyond faith

And doubt

There is wisdom.

(inspired by our community group’s convo on james 1)

To Remember

What do you do to remember?

Do you write stuff down, do you make something, do you take a picture (do you tweet that pic, do you instagram it, do you post it on facebook)?

In the book of Joshua, Joshua promises his people “the LORD will do amazing things among you” (3:5). As a leader, this is a bold statement. Joshua doesn’t say the LORD will do some cool things, or some interesting things…he says “amazing things“.

And He does. He stops a rushing river, allowing all His people to enter their promised land on dry ground.

Joshua immediately decides that they need to do something to remember this. So they make a pile of rocks.


Because we live in a world high on promises and low on delivery, and so it can become easy to be jaded or cynical when a leader says: expect something amazing.

Joshua doesn’t want them to forget.

You can’t argue with a pile of rocks.

Meditate On It

In Joshua 1 we discover a people in transition. The people of Israel mourn the loss of their fearless leader, Moses, and look to Joshua to take his place. All this before, finally, entering the land they had been promised hundreds of year prior. A land filled with enemies.

Joshua 1 is great for leaders in times of transitions. It’s a rah-rah speech, and the wonderful promise of God (“I will be with you”) is repeated at least three times.

Which is very encouraging for us at any time, but especially during times of challenge. Times when it feels like we are going into enemy land. This can feel like all the time in Boston.

The connecting thought, and really the central premise, of Joshua 1 is found in verse 8:

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Sometimes I read Joshua 1 and think I have to work up some amazing courage and fearlessness.

No. Meditate on the word.

A New Year

Heading into a new year I found this to be helpful:

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

A Faithfulness Deficit

We are immersing ourselves in the story of the early church on campuses around Boston this year and the conversations about Acts have been fantastic as our students explore community, the Holy Spirit, and facing opposition.

One thing we see in the early stages of Acts is rapid growth. In fact, we are given some hard numbers: the movement grows from 120, to 3000, to 5000. After hitting 5000 we are given more general statements like “others continued to join them,” or “their numbers were added to.”

This growth has been pointed out in several conversations I’ve been a part of and each time students have been interested in retention. How many of those 3000 stuck around for the next day and the next day and the next day? 

Fascinating. I think it’s a great question, and I think it belies the transient nature of our larger culture. Sure, lots of people will check something out once, but how many will actually stick around.

We have a faithfulness deficit.

I am sure there is a lot more to be said about this. But this question has surprised me and intrigued me. There’s some cynicism behind it (no way that many people actually stick around), but there’s also some wonder involved (that many people stick around? hmmmm….something going on there).

Faithfulness is a huge challenge and sacrifice. It is a better story. It is an all too rare story in our culture today.

Finish Strong

It’s the final month of school for most of our students and people are starting to think about finals, summer jobs, traveling, internships, and all that good stuff. And, it is a super busy season for us…readying new leaders, finishing well relationally, planning new things, evaluating the year, etc, etc, etc. All on top of the normal rhythms of groups and one-on-ones and meetings.

I’m ready for vacation.

But I don’t want to check out early. At our last leadership community I shared with our students the story of Caleb. I always come back to Caleb when I think about finishing well, finishing strong.

Consider Caleb’s example (you can read about him in Numbers 13 and 14)…

  • He was one of only two Israelite spies (Joshua was the other) who saw how good the promised land was and believed the people could take it over.
  • He was sold out by the other 10 spies who freaked out because of the “giants in the land” and their weapons.
  • He and Joshua were the only two people from his generation allowed to enter the promised land.
  • He had to wander around the desert while his contemporaries died out, all the while knowing the good things he was missing out on. He had to question his fate a ton, I would think.
  • He went to a lot of funerals and dug a lot of graves.
  • And then, God picked Joshua to be the leader to take over from Moses. Joshua got the book deal, the twitter followers, the big church. Caleb had his life and his family and a hope for a plot of land.

If anyone had an excuse to give up, to lose hope, to become cynical or bitter or entitled or frustrated or angry or to quit, it was Caleb.

We don’t know much about what Caleb did for those 40 years, but we know how his story ends. He shows up again in Joshua 14. Everyone else had received their allotment of land, and finally Caleb says, “It’s time for me to take mine.”

And we read this:

6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

Somehow, through all that, he still followed God wholeheartedly. He finished strong.

I love that image of 85-year-old Caleb still looking for a fight, still ready to go, still throwing himself fully into the work God had asked him to do. And somehow all of that contributed to peace in the land.

When I get tired I think about Caleb…I want to finish strong too.