Believe it or not, like it or not, you are a leader. In one way or another, you lead in your life. Are you a good leader? Are you a good leader becoming a great leader?
The book of 1 and 2 Chronicles in the Bible is about the kings (leaders) of Judah. It begins with the great shepherd King David, and it chronologically works its way through the line of kings traced to back David.
Jehoshaphat: Great Leader of Judah
Part way through this chronology is the story of Jehoshaphat.
I’m going to spoil the end of the story, because Jehoshaphat is seen by God and through the eyes of history as a good king. This is what the writers say about him,
“Jehoshaphat was a good king, following the ways of his father, Asa. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight.” -2 Chronicles 20:32 NLT
Jehoshaphat, however, had a rough beginning to his reign. Early on he visited the king of Israel, Ahab, who made it a point to walk away from God. During the visit, Ahab convinced Jehoshaphat to go to war with him against his enemies. Jehoshaphat agrees, but he wants insurance — the counsel of a prophet of God. Sounds good, right? Except the prophet tells them of the failure to come.
Ignoring the word of God, Jehoshaphat went into battle. He escaped with his life, but just barely (Ahab is killed). Upon his return, a different prophet confronts Jehoshaphat, and says,
“Because of what you have done, the Lord is very angry with you.”
The Secret Behind Great Leaders
Here is where the secret of the best leaders is found, and it’s two-fold. This is true about kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers, but it’s also true for you:
- Great leaders are humble.
- Great leaders learn from their mistakes.
Reading through the stories of the various kings of Judah, I’ve found many are in this very same place. They’ve made a mistake or even a series of mistakes – personally and professionally. Who they truly are is made known when confronted with their sin.
Jehoshaphat took the prophet’s constructive criticism, and he humbled himself. You can see it in the very next thing recorded about him; Jehoshaphat went out among the people. He didn’t sulk in a high tower with people who would tell him what would make him feel good. Jehoshaphat got his hands dirty and instituted change.
Humility also means we learn from our mistakes. Jehoshaphat learned from his mistakes.
Later in life, a group of tribes and nations coalesced to attack Jehoshaphat and his army. Rather than blindly heading into war, as he had done with Ahab, he slowed down to truly seek God. He sought God, but Jehoshaphat also urged the nation to follow suit. Gathering the entire nation, Jehoshaphat made a public prayer seeking salvation.
Through another prophet, God told the people,
“He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” -2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT
Great Leaders Show Up
Jehoshaphat was a good leader, and good leaders show up. It wasn’t enough for God to speak an encouraging word. They had to show up with the right attitude. So they marched out in formation in front of the horde gathered against them. The marched out in full battle gear, and…sang.
They sang out this simple Psalm,
“Give thanks to the Lord;
his faithful love endures forever!” -Psalm 136:1
The moment the people began to sing, the enemy army began to fight…each other. They turned against themselves, and God saved Judah.
Jehoshaphat was a good king because he humbled himself, and he learned from his mistakes.
Are you a GOOD leader?
You are a leader. You can be a good (even a great) leader by living humbly and learning from your mistakes.
- So where do you need to practice humility?
- What mistake have you recently made, and how can you learn from it?