Petronio M. Genebago, PhD, MPH is the Youth director for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

The word caleber in the title is not misspelled. It is written that way to refer to the excellent example of Caleb, as depicted in Joshua 14:6–14 and Numbers 13:30; 14:6–9, which show that he is a leader of high caliber.

Referring to Caleb’s leadership training, mission specialist Travis Snode states, “The mentoring of Caleb is not something that is directly described in the Bible but more implied. It is very possible that Moses groomed Caleb for leadership and inspired in him an unswerving faith in the Lord’s promises.”1 As Moses imparted wisdom to Caleb, so Caleb imparts wisdom to us.

Caleb’s focus

While 10 of the 12 spies focused on the challenges in the land, Caleb focused on God. The 12 spies, which included Caleb and Joshua, had been instructed by Moses to see whether the people in Canaan were strong or weak, few or many, lived in camps or strongholds, and whether the land was good or bad (Num. 13:17–20). When returning, 10 of the spies reported that “ ‘the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there’ ” (v. 28).2 They continued, “ ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us’ ” (v. 31).

While his brethren made the people’s hearts melt with fear (Num. 14:4), Caleb’s report aimed to encourage them to pursue the land, “for God is with us.” Numbers 13:30 records, “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.’ ” Both Joshua and Caleb pointed the people to God instead of to the challenges, pleading, “ ‘Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them’ ” (Num. 14:9). Caleb reminded them how God had led them in the past, which meant that He would be with them in the present and future. He encouraged them to trust in God.

Misplaced focus still affects people today. It is easy for ministers and leaders to focus on the challenges of ministry and not on who God is. For instance, due to the demands of the ministry—attending board meetings, visiting sick members, counseling your members regarding various problems—ministers tend to neglect prayer and the study of God’s Word. We lose our focus on God. When we do, we will face discouragement, which will impact our congregants as well. While the rest of the spies filled their hearts with fear of the people in the land, Caleb and Joshua filled their hearts with the fear of God. The assurance they found in resting in God had encouraged them to go and fight. Like Peter, ministers may sink when they see the strong winds and waves rather than focus on Jesus. A minister or leader with caleber has Caleb’s focus, which means they focus on God, not the challenges.

Caleb’s faithfulness

Caleb’s faithfulness is emphasized in Joshua 14:9, which could be translated as, “I filled myself up after the Lord, my God” or “I myself filled my heart with the LORD, my God.” Compared to the ten spies who filled their hearts with fear of the giants, Caleb filled his heart with the Lord. This shows his loyalty and faithfulness to God.

In fact, in verse 9, referring to Caleb, Moses testified, “ ‘You filled yourself up with the LORD, my God’ ” (author’s translation). Caleb did not just keep his eyes and focus on God; rather, he filled his mind and heart with God to the degree that he knew God and wanted to obey and trust Him even in impossible circumstances. He remained faithful to God in spite of challenges.

Faithfulness is crucial in leadership. The kings of both Israel and Judah, as recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles, succeeded and fell depending on their relationship with God, their faithfulness and unfaithfulness to the Lord. The stories of Kings Ahab, Joash, Hezekiah, and David demonstrate how being faithful was foundational to the stability of Israel and Judah. Other characters of the Bible, such as Daniel, Joseph, and Job, exemplified faithfulness despite their life-threatening circumstances. Jeremiah was faithful to God despite persecution. These leaders demonstrated that they were called to be faithful, not to be successful.

Author Ellen White wrote, “Grave responsibilities rest upon the leaders and upon the departmental superintendents. I am instructed to warn you, my brethren, that your faithfulness or unfaithfulness will have a strong influence either in advancing or in hindering the work of God.”3

For ministers, faithfulness is crucial. Ministers and leaders with caleber have Caleb’s faithfulness, filling themselves up with the Lord, knowing Him, obeying Him, and trusting in Him fully despite the challenges of life and ministry.

Caleb’s fitness

Caleb’s fitness is described in Joshua 14:10, 11. Caleb, 85 years old, was “the oldest man in Israel (along with Joshua).”4 He said, “ ‘I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in’ ” (v. 11). And Caleb did not keep the secret of his fitness. He said that Yahweh “ ‘has kept me alive’ ” (v. 10), using a verb meaning “cause to keep alive.”

Ministers have many challenges and responsibilities that can, and often do, challenge them spiritually, emotionally, and, yes, physically. Thus, they need to make sure that, besides their spiritual and emotional health, they take care of their physical health as well, for physical health can, and does, impact their emotional and spiritual health.

As God had caused Caleb to live and survive despite his own challenges, He will do it also to His ministers and leaders, just as long as they focus on God and are faithful to Him. He will keep them alive and preserve them. However, they have a responsibility to take care of their health. That is how God can “cause” us “to keep alive” too.

Caleb’s fitness reminds church leaders and ministers to take the health message seriously. Along with upholding the Ten Commandments, by precept and example, they need to promote healthy living. They need a well-balanced plant-based diet, regular exercise, water, fresh air, sunlight, and adequate rest. They also need to trust God with all their burdens. In short, they must take advantage of this health message that has been embraced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to have a better quality of life and reach others by example.5

Age no limit

Ministers can be leaders with caleber despite the challenges they face. Snode concludes, “The spirit, the zeal, and the courage of Caleb were no doubt inspired by the example of Moses. Moses became the leader of the people at age 80. Caleb learned from him that it does not matter what age you are; God can still use you and do great things through you.”6 Pastors should emulate Caleb’s focus, faithfulness, and fitness. If they do, then, like Caleb, they can make a difference in the lives of the people they lead to the heavenly Promised Land.

  1. Travis Snode, “Mentoring in the Old Testament: Part 2,” Vision Baptist Missions, Nov. 17, 2014, https://visionmissions.org/methods/mentoring-in-the-old-testament-part-2.
  2. Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture in this article is from the New American Standard Bible.
  3. Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church Regarding Individual Responsibility and Christian Unity, Pamphlet Series B 09 (n.p.: 1907), 13.
  4. Andrews Study Bible, commentary on Joshua 14:12 (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2010), 281.
  5. Charlotte Pointing, “Why Do Seventh-day Adventists Live So Long?” Veg News, June 19, 2023, https://vegnews.com/vegan-health-wellness/seventh-day-adventists-live-long-plants.
  6. Snode, “Mentoring in the Old Testament.”

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Petronio M. Genebago, PhD, MPH is the Youth director for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, Silang, Cavite, Philippines.

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