About #SquadGoals: We are starting a new series called #SquadGoals this week! It’s about the importance of having the right relationships, finding your tribe, and building community to walk forward in your purpose. I hope you dig it. Look for these every Sunday.
Note: This is a revision of a previous post that * POOF * disappeared one day so it may seem a little familiar. Check it out anyway as it has some extra nuggets in this version.
What. A. Year. Unbelievable, huh? We’ve seen so much happen from tragic losses within the industry to a rollercoaster election year, societal unrest and personal tragedy. It’s easy to feel helpless when it looks like there is so much around you that needs to change. I mean, what can one person do?
Well one person can definitely make a difference. No one should ever doubt the impact that they can make on the world. However a good squad can do so much more. I don’t know if I can fully put into words the importance of finding your tribe; like-minded people with a similar vision and mission who are committed to uplifting and supporting one another for a greater good. Community is important.
But what happens if it’s just you and one other person that gets it? What if within your community you begin to be ostracized because you dare to be different and believe for greater? What happens when you are surrounded by people who are naysayers in the name of being “realistic”?
That’s exactly what happened to Joshua and Caleb.
When God was leading the children of Israel into the promised land of Canaan, he didn’t want them to walk into it blindly. He wanted them to examine the land first and know exactly what it was they were inheriting. Check out the instructions Moses got from God to give to Joshua, Caleb, and ten other scouts before they scoped out the land.
Scripture references: Numbers 13:1-33, 14:1-24
18 (And) see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,
19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds,
20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land.
The Promised Land, in this case and whatever that signifies in your life, is not heaven so it’s bound to come with some challenges. I don’t care how good you’ve got it once you get there. For a lot of you, God has shown you what you are destined for and it’s bigger than you and in an unfamiliar territory. Just like the children of Israel, He wants you to be prepared for where you are headed. God wants to set you up for success not failure.
So the 12 scouts went out as spies and explored the land for 40 days. Even though they all went out together, not everyone came back with the same perspective. Check out the noise they came back with upon their return:
27 They told Moses, We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey. This is its fruit.
28 But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage].
30 Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.
While the rest of the spies were being “shook ones”, Caleb boldly spoke up declaring that they already had the victory. It was just a matter of getting to it. He recognized the obstacles but since God said it was already theirs for the taking (Numbers 13:2), it was a done deal. The others besides him and Joshua, not so much.
31 But his fellow scouts said, “We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land, which they had scouted out, saying, “The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Note that verse 32 says that the report they brought back to the Israelites was described as being evil. Not just negative but straight up and down evil. Why such a harsh word? I believe this was for a couple of reasons.
- Pessimism is Poison
One of the many discouraging things we sometimes hear is that the temptations in the industry are far too great for a believer to resist. Therefore we have no place in it. It is this discouragement that has driven many artists away from the church and some even further away from God. I remember reading Mase say “Why is it Christians are more confident in the Devil taking me more than Christ keeping me?” Sometimes this discouragement comes from people at church, family, friends, and even other artists- those who have spent some time on the mainstream side, had terrible experiences, and then decided to do gospel music instead. Then afterwards as a part of their “testimony” will dissuade anyone from venturing into mainstream (as if the gospel music industry has no temptations at all). I’m here to tell you that’s an evil report. Let’s be clear: every believer that ventures into mainstream is not called to it and so sometimes that’s why they fail. Let’s be even clearer: Some actually have been called to it but haven’t developed the character to sustain them and THAT’S why they failed (study the life of King Saul for a really good cautionary tale on that right there.). This is why it’s so important to “make your calling and election sure” (1 Peter 2:10). If this is where you belong, be confident but most of all be prepared. Pessimism is poison. Stay far from it
2. They spoke poorly of themselves
Verse 33 says “There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” I’d be really surprised if someone told me that they have never been afraid in the music industry. Everyone has had fear on some level. That’s understandable. What’s dangerous however is to go into an industry like this with a poor opinion of yourself. The 10 spies basically said that because of how they saw themselves, the giants saw them the exact same way. Now I don’t know how much attention the giants were actually paying to them but I do know that sometimes those that hold or appear to hold a certain level of power can sniff out “grasshopper mentality”. Too many artists have been taken on a ride because they thought so little of themselves and their capabilities that they allowed other people to mold and control them. Not being confident in yourself can be a sure way to either be too scared to try or leave you vulnerable to be lead down the wrong road by someone who seems to be a “giant” to you. Too many people have gotten “got” that way. Just about any episode of Unsung, Behind the Music, and E! True Hollywood Story can tell you that. How you see yourself is crucial.
3. They were basically calling God a liar
Do I really need to go into why that’s a bad idea?
When Caleb spoke up and encouraged the people to believe God for the victory, not only were they not trying to hear him, they wanted to STONE him! Joshua tried with all of his might to the point of tearing apart his own clothes to convince the people to believe that God would lead them safely into the Promised Land:
6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Persecution can happen when you dare to be go to another level and do what hasn’t been done before. Some people want things too easily and when they can’t get it their way, they can sometimes persecute you for moving forward. It hurts when persecution comes from the very people you are trying to deliver. It’s heartbreaking when the same people you’ve been riding with turn against you because they’re too afraid to move forward and they want you to be stuck like them. A lot of us have experienced this and it can be devastating.
But this is what is so awesome about our God: While the people were talking about stoning Joshua and Caleb for daring to believe God, God showed up.
This time when God showed up to speak with Moses about the children of Israel, He decided that enough was enough. These are the same people that saw Him split the Red Sea, provide for them and guide them time and time again. He had shown them tremendous mercy despite their constant disobedience, complaining and unbelief and now they were talking about stoning Joshua and Caleb? It was about time to make some squad cuts.
Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, them in the wilderness.’
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
Can we just pause and marvel at how Moses’ relationship with God was amazing? Anytime you can respond to God with receipts about what HE said, you are bold in faith! Thank God for the people who pray on our behalf! There’s no telling what we’ve been saved from.
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
“A different spirit.” Oh how I love that.
To follow God where few are called to go to do what many aren’t chosen to do, you are going to have to be a little different. Actually, you are going to have to just be out and out weird. I mean, God told me to build this ark and there is a -12% chance of rain, weird. When no one else has the faith to believe God for what they do not see, you are going to look a bit delusional. And while some may be too nice to call you delusional to your face, you will indeed be labeled as “different”. Take that as a badge of honor for your non-conformity.
God’s wrath didn’t end there. Read on to find out what else happened to the children of Israel, including the other spies.
I can’t lie. I hate that the disobedience of the people delayed the promise for Joshua and Caleb. That seems so unfair! But that’s what happens when we don’t all follow God together. Deals fall through, projects get pushed back (or never come out), contracts stay in limbo, and opportunities get lost. Even though the disobedience of others caused a 40 year delay in their promise, here’s what Caleb had to say at the end of those 40 years:
Joshua 14:6-15 (Y’all. That’s two whole books later. Good grief!)
6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 9So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’
10“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; Iʼm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15(Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)
Then the land had rest from war.
I love Caleb for this. That could not have been easy having to push through a delay that long, even when he had been honorable and obedient. But God kept him for that long period of time in such a way that he could enjoy his promise, even at that age (okay people lived to be about 1000 years old during that time but you know what I’m saying.). His body did not grow frail. God sustained him and Caleb received his blessing with joy. He remembered why he started and stuck with it. While everyone was willing to go back to slavery, to go back to the regular way of doing things, he kept his eyes on God’s faithfulness to His promises. There are a lot of people that would rather take what seems easy and stay within the enslavement of the industry: bad contracts, making art they don’t believe in, cookie cutter gimmicks, etc. It takes real guts, real faith, and a whole lot of tenacity to see it through to the end.
When times get tough during your journey, remember why you started. Remember what God said to you regarding your purpose and calling on this earth. Don’t defeat each other by spreading the poison of pessimism. Remember to not grow weary in well doing. Remember the example of our savior for the glory set before him made it to the cross and came out on other side victorious (Hebrews 12:2). Stick with those that are willing to do the same and build one another up so that no one misses out on their promised land.
9 Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. Galatians 6:9