Leadership Spotlight - Hezekiah

Leadership is not complete without the nature of crisis. Knowing how to understand and deal with crisis is important in the daily life of a leader. Crisis cannot be avoided in leadership and there must be an effective plan in place to resolve it.  The nature of the current recession and troubles in the economy, calls for leadership to have answers that will be built upon wise principles. A leader can either crumble under the pressure or rally their followers to see the darkest times as an opportunity, rather than give into discouragement. Scripture has numerous stories of people who face insurmountable odds and respond with solid faith in God. The story of Hezekiah is one that speaks of the truth of God working through a person during a time of crisis and achieving success. Hezekiah faced a pivotal time in the Israelite’s history. Hezekiah was the thirteenth king of Judah and had inherited a troubled people with many problems and struggles. Hezekiah began to lead as king at a young age.[1] Although he was faced with a tough situation, he was set to handle the task. The crisis that Hezekiah faced was not in his own kingdom but was an attack of the Sennacherib King of Assyria.[2] One of the main reasons there was fear among the people was due to Hezekiah’s father Ahaz making unwise choices leading up to his death. Hezekiah had a choice to continue leading in a dysfunctional way or live the alternative of leading with character. One key leadership ability, is making the decision to respond rather than react to a crisis. Hezekiah did not waste time arguing with the enemy. Leadership must always look at arguments as detrimental to finding the solution during a crisis. Hezekiah realized that in order to achieve success there would need to be thoughtful and wise steps to defeat the enemy.

Hezekiah was facing the compounding issues of idolatry, hedonistic rituals, and sacrifices. He went to the source of His strength to face the crisis.[3] Ahaz, his father had allowed the people to shift away from worshiping Yahweh as the only true God. A leader must not rely upon one individual’s strength, but realize that the foundation must be built upon God working in and through each crisis. Not only did Hezekiah turn to God for help, but went to Isaiah for wise counsel on how to handle the surmounting crisis that was on the horizon. The wisdom that he received helped him adequately prepare for battle. The amazing power of God was seen through the angel of the Lord killing the entire army that was bent upon destroying Hezekiah’s plan.[4] A leader must handle their emotions before they make decisions. Dealing with crisis can evoke various emotions and in order to make wise choices, there must be a plan to handle them with integrity.

Leadership must be focused upon more than one person. Hezekiah set an example of leadership that focused upon utilizing other people to live out their abilities to achieve success. Many leaders focus all of the attention upon their own abilities and gifts. When a leader thinks they are the answer for all questions and needs, the leader will begin to slowly destroy relationships due to pride. Hezekiah displayed an attitude of humility and honor by bringing the people of Israel out of a tough situation and set back on track by obeying God. In order to effectively lead, a team needs to be in place to lead through their skill set. Hezekiah used the law of problem solving and was able to make decisions based upon obedience to God and not unto man. Hezekiah did not let the crisis rule his decision-making process but came up with solutions.

Hezekiah faced a personal crisis that was about to take his life. He cried out to God to heal him and give him more time to lead. God healed him from his sickness but his last few years he began to make unwise decisions that future generations would have to clean up. His last years led to haphazard decisions that would set up an opportunity for the Babylonians to overtake the Israelites in the future.[5] The leader that led through tough times was now relying upon human strength and not God’s power. Hezekiah’s choleric temperament came out by focusing upon his past successes and led to opening up his palace to Babylonian leaders. Hezekiah was only thinking of the current crisis and missed the opportunity to safeguard the future by making decisions that were wise.

Leadership must be built upon dealing with problems that come with procedures put in place before the crisis arises. Casting vision is not only communicating verbally but also thinking ahead of the obstacles and ways to find solutions. Hezekiah was able to build a healthy kingdom but over time lost sight of his tenacity to stick to priorities. Leadership is not a sprint but it is a marathon. Hezekiah was a successful leader in a crisis and revealed a heart for following God’s commands.

Leaders need to be aware that decisions that are made not only affect the current situation but also future generations. Healthy leadership keeps humility in the forefront of their mind and heart. Hezekiah’s successes were similar to trophies in his life and through time, his desire to keep his walk with God pure became less of a priority. Character and self-evaluation is needed on a regular basis to keep a person focused upon what is most important. When a leader becomes comfortable, the chance of mediocrity and apathy begins to erode excellence. Instead of looking back at past victories, leaders must keep focusing on the future and all the wonders God wants to fulfill.[6]

Leadership is a gift from God. Each leader must never forget the motivation of following God’s purposes. Hezekiah made many wise decisions for the Israelites but his last years were as if he retired in his passion for excellence. Effective leaders must have a daily, dependent walk with God. When a leader stays dependent upon God, the crisis will bring glory to God.

[1] He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name wasAbi the daughter of Zechariah.” 2 Kings 18:2

[2] “Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.” Isaiah 36:1

[3] “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.” Isaiah 37:1

[4] “And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh.” Isaiah 37:36-37

[5] “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined” Isaiah 38:7-8

[6] “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14