Leading by example…

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2 Chronicles 21:1 Jehoshaphat (the king of Judah) slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David (Jerusalem); his son Jehoram succeeded him. …He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done; for the daughter of Ahab (Athaliah) was his wife. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever.

A sad chapter. First, remember that the original unified kingdom of God’s people under King David eventually split into two kingdoms – Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Sometimes these two kingdoms got along, sometimes they didn’t. King Jehoshaphat (king of Judah) was considered a good king, mostly following in the ways of the Lord. A solid 7-8/10 perhaps. But he, like everyone else, had some weaknesses. We are told that his oldest son Jehoram, who succeeded him on the throne of Judah, was married to one of the daughters of King Ahab of Israel (Athaliah was her name). Ahab was considered an evil king among a people who strayed badly from God’s ways. This would have been known to Jehoshaphat.

Why did Jehoram marry Athaliah? Because his father Jehoshaphat wanted a military alliance with Israel to protect his northern border. From that perspective, the alliance made sense. However, it reveals a major flaw in Jehoshaphat. Let me ask you – if you KNEW that God was with you in all things, would you need a military alliance? NO! If you knew God was with you, that would be enough.

But apparently Jehoshaphat grew insecure over the years, began to doubt that God was enough, and began to depend on human support for security. Generations that came after him did the same, only more so – turning completely from God. Eventually, the kingdom fell to outside invaders.

Why is this story important? Well, as a parent/pastor/supervisor/teacher/leader it reminds me that the values I teach others can have far-reaching implications long after I’m dead and gone. Brings to mind some key questions for me – and for you, if you are a leader in any capacity:

1. What values am I teaching to those in my charge? Remember, people learn much more from how we live than what we say.

2. Do I model faith in the Lord or faith in human resources/institutions?

3. Where are my weak spots from which I need to repent?

Lord God, most everyone reading this blog post is a leader at some level. As leaders we have people who follow us, watch us, imitate us – whether we like it or not. Give us grace to offer to others lives worth imitating. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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