The Joshua Problem

12 Jan

Great Monday to you! To start off and to clarify, I don’t have any problems with any person named Joshua ok? I know a lot of people named Joshua, in fact I’m working with a guy named Joshua but I don’t have any problems with them. :))

To give you context, the title I used for this blog is an image/metaphor that leadership expert Tim Elmore used in one of his books titled: “Habitudes”. “The Joshua Problem” is an image and metaphor, which Tim Elmore uses to describe a perennial leadership problem: Raising the next generation.


Movements, organizations, and churches, ever since the dawn of time, have constantly experienced this problem of raising the next generation. They say that success without a successor is a failure. It’s one thing to lead a successful movement but it’s another to see a successful movement transcend through time and generations. If you look at our world today, we rarely see a successful organization, which have lasted for more than a century.

Tim Elmore coined the term “The Joshua Problem” because he was referring to a famous character in the Bible: Moses who had an apprentice named Joshua. Basically, what he is saying is that, Moses was able to raise up a Joshua but there’s no mention of a next generation leader that Joshua raised up to take his place. Because Joshua was not able to raise a Joshua of his own, Tim Elmore is saying that out of that failure came one of the worst periods in their nation’s history.

Ever since I’ve heard about the term: “The Joshua Problem” and ever since I’ve had sufficient knowledge of the Bible. This problem has bothered me for quite some time. Today I’ve had the privilege of being discipled to follow God but how can I be sure that the next generation will be as passionate with God as well? How sure am I that they will have that same desire of Honoring God and Making Disciples? The Biblical pattern seems to be that periods of successes for some generations are just short lived and generations who come after them are soon doomed to failure. What a scary pattern! Will I just surrender to the fact that that’s just the way it is?

Last November, I’ve had the privilege of being able to preach some aspects of the life of Moses and Joshua. Because of that, I was able study and to look closely at both of their lives. I think I was able to gain insights and look deeper at what is one of the causes of the problem of the failure of the next generation. In Judges it says there that:

Judges 2:7
So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

 Judges 2:10
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

If you notice and look closely, you’ll see that in verses 7 and 10, both of them talks about the knowledge of God as being a key factor in the success or failure of the next generation. It can go either way. Joshua and his generation saw all the great works that God had done for the nation of Israel, that’s why they were blessed. In fact they made a decision to obey him. However, for the generation that followed them, I think that verse 10 gives the main reason why the next generation failed. It’s because the generation that followed Joshua did not know the Lord. Or in other words, they did not have a relationship with God. It seems basic, but this leads to some important implications:

Discipling the next generation

The previous’ generation’s job is to disciple the next generation. Meaning, the previous generation has a HUGE responsibility of teaching the word of God to the next generation. If you look at the book of Deuteronomy, the charge was always to teach the next generation God’s word.

Deuteronomy 6:7
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Before Moses died and left the leadership to Joshua, teaching the next generation the commandments of God had been emphasized many times. The next generation do not know God’s words, they don’t have a relationship with him but the previous generation has. Therefore it’s the previous generation’s task to disciple the next generation.

This principle still applies to us today, whoever you are or wherever you’re from. For those of us who had been blessed by God so much to be led to have a growing relationship with him, this doesn’t stop with us. It’s our role to disciple the next generation and teach them the word of God.

Focusing more on the word of God than leadership 

Don’t get me wrong; I love Tim Elmore and his leadership books. I’m a very big fan. Also, I think that leadership plays a huge part in raising the next generation. However, putting too much emphasis on leadership may focus us more on that rather than the real problem, which is teaching the word of God. It’s passing on God’s word the next generation that’s the biggest concern. How can we effectively pass the passion for God’s word to the next generation? We can have a great leader who casts a mighty vision and leads people well, however if this leader fails to pass the word of God to the next generation then his labor will be in vain. It’s God’s word that should be top priority. The best thing that will work here is a great leader who always champions the word of God and ensures that God’s word is carried to the next generation. In fact, this is the Biblical pattern for revival. Whenever God’s word was opened and preached revival came in scripture. 🙂

So there we have it, I hope that this blog helped us gain new insights in that perennial problem of raising the next generation. I hope that we will be a people who will emphasize and put top priority on God’s word. When we make sure that the passion for God’s word is passed on to the next generation then by God’s grace we know that the next generations who will follow us will do a great, if not a better job than the present generation. 🙂

1 Comment

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Leadership


One response to “The Joshua Problem

  1. iamthelightprince

    January 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm


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