Isaiah 6:1-7:6 & 9:5-6
In every generation there are three. There is the Jethro. There is the Moses. And then there is the Joshua. There must be three in order to get the job done.
Jethro is the past
There must always be the pastor of the past. This is the person who has been there. They see what they did wrong, and what can be corrected in the age that is upon us. Their counsel is corrective. It is not to strategize about things to come, but rather to encourage the current pastor to change his present ways of doing things. Why? because the pastor of the past can see where things are going before they get there. The pastor of the past can see mistakes.
Moses is the present
There must always be the pastor of the present. This is the person who is there right now. They see what is pressing and in need of being managed. Their counsel makes way for the new leadership that is already pining for the position. Being the present pastor is the most challenging job. It requires you to see yourself as retired before you even get there. You are always preparing for the future as if the job you are doing has already been done!
Joshua is the future
There must always be the pastor of the future. This is the person who is coming. They see what is next. Their counsel is in the making. It is the most confusing position of the three. It requires you to assert yourself before you are actually worthy of being listened to. It requires you to trust the inner voice that tells you that you have something to say.
But the role is even greater than that. It requires you to submit when your counsel receives the constant correction of, “Not yet.” When the future pastor doesn’t know how to take correction, he shows that he is not, and never will be, the next generation’s pastor; because each of the three pastors MUST always learn how to be wrong.
Being wrong takes practice
Pastors must learn how to be wrong at the right time. You see, when God gives a pastor a word, it is always right, regardless of whether or not it is received. But when the pastor has a great idea, or a system, or a way of advancing, he must leave room for corrections.
There will always be corrections in God’s business. Even the best plan can be improved upon before going forward. The word may be correct, but the plan may need some adjustments. And that is perfectly normal– even for the people of God.
Moses was ready to step into Jethro’s position when he took the wise counsel from the pastor who was leaving. The moment Moses took his counsel, the clock began to tick. Moses was soon from retiring himself, though he didn’t know it. You see, Moses’ elevation meant that someone else was being elevated too, and it is so hard to step out of a position that you feel like you didn’t finish. Moses will learn that as he takes Jethro’s position over the people of God in the wilderness, he can no longer take the field calls of all of the people. It was time to build up others into the position that he previously occupied.
Soon Moses will see that someone whom he always considered wrong for the job will suddenly surface in a new way. And even when he couldn’t admit the choice himself, he had to admit the choice that God had made.
A pastor (past, present, & future) must always recognize where his opinion stops and God’s begins.