Barn Builders & Barn Kickers

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” Joshua 24:14-15, 19-20

As a business owner, time usually lets me see who the barn kickers are. As I work to develop and lead my team, I find there are often two categories of people: barn kickers and barn buildings. Barn builders are team players who are servant-minded and willing to pick up a hammer and put in the work. Barn kickers are curious and skeptical individuals content with a sideline view. Barn Kickers are testing every loose piece of wood, looking for faults but often unwilling to put in the sweat equity to advance the organization. Builders are team players; kickers are not. Interestingly, a similar analogy can be drawn in the context of our relationship with God. In this passage, Joshua is challenging the people to make a choice; to decide who they will serve. Joshua is calling a people to move from being barn kickers to barn builders.

Joshua told his people ‘you are not prepared to serve the Lord because you serve other gods. He then went on to stress that God, the only true God is a jealous God! He will NOT forgive you of your rebellion and sins. God will bring disaster on you and make an end of you!’ Men, the people of Israel, like us started serving the world in place of the real God. At one point, they may have been barn builders but became barn kickers. 

At one point, they were active participants on the team, rightly worshipping and honoring God. However, they now find themselves relegated to the bleachers, merely voicing complaints about the game and, even worse, turning their backs on the Creator. So God brought Joshua to warn them. He made it clear that you cannot serve God and maintain your loyalty to false idols. Like an employer who doesn’t need barn kickers, God too wants only team players. Joshua brought them four significant pieces of information. 

First, you’re serving other gods. Second, you’re not serving the team!  Third, God is a jealous God! Fourth, because you don’t honor the true God, He will bring disaster and destroy you.

Sober truth! In other words, Joshua said you can’t be on the team and serve because you’re a barn kicker. You’re not committed. Your mind is on two teams! You’re double-minded! Double-minded men are unstable. In fact, James 1:8-15 says the double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Not some, ALL his ways. He is useless because he doesn’t commit one way or the other. So Joshua gave the people the truth and the truth woke them up! Faced with the truth, they could have fallen back, retreating to their old ways; but instead, they faced God’s truth and woke up! 

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord (Joshua 24: 21).” They said NO to false gods and chose to seek the only true God. Verse 24 reiterates their commitment as they collectively proclaimed “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”

We, as men, must dedicate time to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. In so doing, it serves as a mirror, reflecting back to us our true selves and providing numerous examples of our tendencies as we deviate from seeking and obeying our heavenly Father, often choosing to forsake Him instead.

Our heavenly Father is not just the sole true Father; He is also a jealous Father. If we persist in turning away from Him, we will ultimately bring destruction upon ourselves. However, the moment we choose to turn towards Him, surrendering ourselves, His love and forgiveness envelop us completely. 

We, as men, should examine ourselves! We can’t serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

God wants us to participate as His creation. We were created by Him so we could share in building the barn and eventually spend eternity with Him! Picking up a hammer and nails is part of our assignment. 

There are barn kickers all over that will criticize our commitment and work as we seek to build. Few words are needed to defend my identity as a man who desires to build. Instead, the calluses on my hands serve as sufficient proof that I’m a barn builder. Our barns might not be picturesque, but the fact that we have one counts for something! We, as men, have a heavy assignment. Like the people of Israel, our assignment starts with commitment and ends with action.

RTM – Stephen L. Thomas