Christian comment with Canon Ian Marsh, Deanery Lay Chair And Chair of PSALMS Member of St Marys Church Painswick.

AN advertisement will be appearing shortly for the post of Team Rector of Stroud, a vital new leadership role in our area. This, and my daily Bible readings in Joshua (one of my real Old Testament heroes) have led me to reflect again on what we should look for in our leaders.

Joshua Chapter two gives us a front row seat at Joshua's retirement dinner. He's been in charge of Israel ever since taking over from his mentor, Moses.

We all know that it's not easy to follow in the footsteps of a beloved, long-time pastor, but Joshua rose to the challenge and became one of Israel's most effective leaders. This retirement speech is his final opportunity to share the secrets of his success.

The first is to remember that God is the one who gives victory (v 3). It's much easier to pray fervently, to ask for God's help, to depend on him when we're in trouble; we have no other option. But lately I've been realising the need to pray even harder during times of blessing, because the human heart is so quick to forget God and take credit for his work. Joshua doesn't want the next generation of leaders to make that mistake (v 5).

That's why he offers two spiritual principles for aspiring leaders: they must obey God's Word (v 6), which means making a priority of reading it and living it, every day; and they must love God himself (v 11), which means putting heart, soul and strength into deepening our relationship with him. Effective spiritual leadership requires that both intellect and emotions are continually alive to God. Perhaps Joshua's words have a familiar ring to you. They should, because he's simply restating the very principles God gave him at the beginning of his journey (Joshua 1:1-9).

The most notable achievement in Joshua's life was not that he took the Promised Land. Rather, it was that he always did what God told him to do. That's the real secret of a successful leader and what we should be praying for in our new Team Rector.