What it means to be a SERVANT-LEADER? "When they had made an end of dividing the land as an inheritance according to their borders, the children of Israel gave an inheritance among them to Joshua the son of Nun. According to the word of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked for, Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim; and he built the city and dwelt in it." (Josh. 19:49-50)
When an inheritance is divided among the surviving family members, it can cause a lot of problems and create a lot of stress for the person who acts as a trustee in dividing the estates. An inheritance can be a blessing to a family, but it can also be a terrible curse that divides family members. A lot depends on the trustee who manages the disbursements of the assets and how well he does his job.
In the case of Joshua, we see that he did a remarkable job in acting as a trustee and dividing the land of Canaan among all the tribes of Israel. He made sure that each tribe actually received the lands to which it was entitled. This was truly a delicate job that required him to act with great integrity. If that was not the case and if Joshua had shown any partiality, he might have been charged with being unfair in assigning boundaries or, with neglecting commitments previously made by Moses to the people of Israel.
The Bible does not record the command granting Joshua any particular inheritance, though the promise to Caleb and Joshua did guarantee both of these faithful spies an inheritance in the land, which was as follows: "Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in" (Num. 14:30).
However, after completing his task of dividing Canaan admirably, the children of Israel awarded to Joshua a city called Timnath Serah located in Ephraim (Num. 13:8), which was located about 16 miles southwest of Shechem. Not until all had received their portions did Joshua choose his inheritance and his final resting place (see Judges 2:9). Timnath Serah is traditionally connected with the location where Joshua commanded the sun to stand still (10:13). This great leader of faith has finally received a just reward for his labor through the years, according to the word of the Lord (v. 50).
What is truly remarkable is the quality of Joshua seen as a servant-leader? Even though he had led Israel to the conquest of Canaan, he waited for everyone else to receive their inheritance before seeking his own inheritance. Only after Joshua had seen to the welfare of his people did he receive an inheritance for himself. This is a mark of a truly great leader!
Joshua saw to it that the distribution to the tribes was completed before he received his own inheritance, which was located in a mountainous region where life would not be easy. Joshua could have chosen the finest place in the land, but he put others first and let them take the best. Joshua’s example as a servant-leader is worth emulating today! As we accept responsibilities and make decisions that affect others, our challenge will be to do the right thing by seeking justice and trusting God to work out the details of our own welfare in the end.
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3-4) "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being" (1 Cor. 10:24).