I learned a ton about ministry from my late husband. He was a pastor, ran adult ministries. He was an expert at organizational behavior, volunteer management, and counseling… to name a bit of his knowledge and experience base.
I do believe he was my in-home tutor to prepare me for my current ministry position. When I married a pastor, I thought I’d help HIM in ministry. Whoever expected the shoe would one day land on the other foot?
My DH (Dear Husband) repeated not a few phrases that still guide me. One of them was “the fish stinks from the head down.” Sort of like – as the leader goes, so goes the organization.
I’m FAR from perfect. I often feel like a bad leader (and a bad mom) BUT I do believe I brought to my current organization laughter and optimism.
When I arrived, it was a pretty sour, dour place. People were actively looking for jobs. Now, people have fun and believe in our future. It’s a totally different atmosphere.
So, the same is true of the kings of Judah and Israel. If the king followed God, the people did. If he didn’t, they didn’t. That’s amazing power.
Now it’s not to say that there weren’t a minority (like some of the prophets) who stood firm with the Lord no matter what the leader did – and vice versa. But often, the king set the tone – and if the head of the fish smelt good, the body did too!
Case in point in today’s reading:
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 2 Chronicles 24: 1-2
Josiah was some godly boy – and king. When he was 16, Josiah “began to seek the God of David his father.” (vs. 3). He instituted reforms while still young, including:
- Ridding the land of the high places (typically used to worship other “gods”), chopping down the altars to Baal, and destroying other idols – when he was 20 years old (vs. 307)
- Repairing the temple when he was 26 years old (vs. 9)
During the temple repairs, Hilkiah the priest re-discovered the Book of the Law (of Moses). “And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes” (vs. 19) in despair and grief, saying:
For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book. vs. 21b
Josiah then stood before the people and:
…read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. (vs. 31b, 32)
After Josiah committed to follow the Lord, he “made” the people join this covenant. The result of their leader’s faithful obedience?
[He] made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. vs. 33b
The fish stunk – in a good way – from the head down.
That’s the power of a leader. And the responsibility of a leader. Gulp.
Dear Lord: Help me to increasingly walk in Your ways as a leader. Just today I screwed up. Every day I screw up. Help me to follow You more nearly both at work and at home. For the benefit of those who follow me. Amen.