I often use a favorite quote from Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Church), “The wrong question is what will make our church grow?” “The right question is, “What is keeping our church from growing?” I think this is not only true for the church seeking to be victorious but also for personally living a victorious Christian life. The reality is in both living the Victorious Christian Life and being victorious in ministry we will need to face opposition and obstacles.
Joshua is one the Old Testament examples of a victorious life and victorious ministry. The first mention of Joshua comes in a time when the people were opposing Moses (Joshua’s mentor). Joshua’s mentorship with Moses taught him valuable lessons about being victorious when faced with internal opposition (from within the church and/or close relationships).
The first thing we can learn from this mentorship is that we will face internal opposition. The Israelites were glad to leave Egypt, but as soon as their expectations were not being met “the people quarreled with Moses and said, 'Give us water to drink.' And Moses said to them, 'Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?' ”(Exodus 17:2). People will love us when we give them what they think they want. When things don’t meet their expectations we can expect opposition.
A second lesson is to realize opposition to leadership is more about testing the Lord than rejecting us. A lesson I was taught as a young pastor was to “have thick skin and a tender heart.” Most grumbling is not really about what we do or don’t do. Grumbling is far more about people not getting what they want than rejecting us. The reality is most of our circumstances have far more to do with God’s blessing or our personal situation.
A third, and probably the most important, lesson in this mentorship comes from the response of Moses to the opposition. “So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me' “(Exodus 17:4). When faced with people complaining we are usually tempted to retaliate or defend ourselves. The example Moses set is to “take it the Lord in the prayer.” I think the real heart of Moses' prayer is a request for wisdom to know how to lead people who may be dissatisfied.
The fourth lesson comes from the Lord’s response to Moses. The direction given by the Lord was simply keep leading, “pass before the people taking with you some of the elders” (Exodus 15:5). The idea of passing before the people is about staying in the front as a leader. When faced with opposition it is not time to back down, rather it is time to step out and lead.
A reality of ministering for almost fifty years is, like Moses, while serving the Lord you will face opposition from inside the church. One of the most dangerous oppositions comes when people quarrel and grumble about leaders. The danger is grumbling spreads like a wildfire. Moses example taught Joshua to boldly face the opposition through praying for wisdom and stepping out in leadership.
For victory in life and ministry, we will need to know what the obstacles are. Often these obstacles come in the form of opposition from dissatisfied people. The real victory will only come when we keep our focus on Who it is that called us and seeking Him when we face opposition and/or obstacles.