Training the Secretary

By Ken Asel

A Reading from Joshua 1:1-9

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, 2 “My servant Moses is dead. Now proceed to cross the Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the Israelites. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and the Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, to the Great Sea in the west shall be your territory. 5 No one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall lead this people to possess the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. 9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


In many ways Joshua would have excelled in a Masters of Business Administration program. As Moses’ secretary, he had surely taken competent notes on the ins and outs of desert leadership from his mentor. Still, perhaps there was a quiver in his first step and his heart skipped a beat as he turned to lead the people of Israel to Canaan and home.

When I became a rector for the first time, one of the early responsibilities before me was to hire a secretary. Initially all seemed to go well. I was careful not to ask too much. I had much to learn, but I was confident — maybe too much so. After a few weeks, I asked my secretary how it was going. “Okay” was her cautious reply. When I pressed, she told me a story. On her first day, I was very busy. I showed her into her office, gave her a brief tour, and never got back to her that entire day. Fortunately, she was very talented and a great secretary for the five years she was with us. I still remember, however, when she said that she wished she had been given more direction, guidance, and leadership.

Good leaders pay attention to people. Moses was a good leader. Part of the reason we know that is because Moses’ successor, whom he mentored closely, proved to be a man of courage and prayer, sincere and humble. He took risks, yet was obedient to his God when told to go forward to claim the land God had given to his people. Ultimately, Joshua proved faithful. (Hopefully, he taught Caleb likewise, too!) The leadership that characterized Joshua served him well. His generous spirit can still be an inspiration to all who are eager to serve God well, from orienting a new secretary to leading a nation — whatever comes our way.

(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married more than thirty years and reside on the Front Range.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Lucknow – The (united) Church of North India
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, New York, N.Y.


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