For any organization to be successful, it must first have successful leadership. That principle rings true whether talking about a nation, a military unit, a football team, a business, or a band. However, the images we tend to associate with leadership often revolve around the most visible and more emotional aspects of that role. When people think of a leader, they think of someone speaking up above the roar of the complaints and disinterest to connect personally with each and every individual through a few perfect words in one perfectly written speech. This image works in the movies, and it certainly has its place; however, real leadership requires far more than this.
When Asa came to the throne of Judah, the prophet Azariah approached him to offer counsel (2 Chr. 15:1). “And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chr. 15:2). Reminded of his personal responsibility to God by the words of Azariah (2 Chr. 15:3-7), Asa “took courage” (2 Chr. 15:8) to follow God and fulfill His will, which inspired others to do the same (2 Chr. 15:9). He then led the people of Judah to return to worshipping Yahweh (2 Chr. 15:10-11), refocusing their attention on the covenant and giving God their priority (2 Chr. 15:12). But they went beyond even this, disciplining those who refused to make correction (2 Chr. 15:13) and declaring their own dedication publicly (2 Chr. 15:14), a decision that brought them great joy and blessings from the LORD (2 Chr. 15:15). Asa himself removed his own mother from a position of prominence and restored items to the temple for worship from his own loyalty of heart (2 Chr. 15:16-19).
Asa’s action demonstrate more subtle characteristics of leadership that people often overlook. Despite reigning as king, Asa was willing to listen to wise counsel and follow good advice. He did not consider this a threat to his leadership but rather a support to him in his role. Then, rather than waiting to gather “political support” from his followers, he boldly stepped forward to lead the way for them to go. He did not wait for agreement; he made the case for its necessity. But more than this, Asa’s plan for reform demonstrated a long term vision for the spiritual welfare of the people he led. Step by step, he led them to develop a culture dedicated to the LORD. Instead of presenting these changes as options for Judah, he implemented them in order to reshape their identity. But he most demonstrated the core of his leadership by the loyalty of his heart. He did not compromise in his own family or for his own benefit. His leadership was about the LORD, and the more leaders in the church follow this pattern, the better off congregations will be.