“That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn; that they in their turn might tell it to their children . . .” – Psalm 78:6
One of the greatest challenges facing leaders is to replace themselves, training others to become leaders. Russ Crosson, CEO of Ronald Blue and Company, writes in detail about this subject in his book What Makes a Leader Great. In a nutshell, he says, the very purpose of leadership is this: “We lead in order to replace ourselves.” To explain further he says that “at the end of the day we’re not successful leaders unless we have successors. If we don’t replace ourselves, whatever we’re leading will end when we retire or die.” Therefore, one of the best tests of our leadership is our willingness and ability to train another for our position.
No story in human history offers a stronger example than the story of the Exodus. Moses had been prepared and called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and into the Promised Land. But Moses was old and only able to take his people so far on their journey. He made an excellent decision, though, when he chose Joshua as his assistant. That choice was later confirmed by God himself when he instructed Moses to commission Joshua as his successor. Joshua had been “shadowing” Moses for years. He was, in fact, the only person allowed to accompany Moses partway up the mountain when he received the law. Joshua’s basic training was living with Moses – experiencing firsthand what it meant to lead God’s people. It was modeling at its best.
“Our graveyards are full of indispensable men,” the late French President Charles de Gaulle once said, referring to men and women who falsely believe they cannot be replaced; thus with no forethought about the next generation.
So what about us? Are we preparing our children and grandchild to follow in our footsteps, to carry on as the leaders of their families, communities, businesses and organizations – not to mention the nation and the world? Are we leading to replace ourselves? Are we leading so “that the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn; that they in their turn might tell it to their children . . .”?