“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:1-2).
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign; he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his ancestor David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Chronicles 34:1-2).
Reading 1 and 2 Chronicles is like riding a see-saw (or teeter-totter). The writer takes us back and forth between unfaithful leaders, like Manasseh, who do what is evil in the sight of the Lord. And faithful leaders, like Josiah, who do what is right in the sight of the Lord. Doing evil in the Chronicles narrative is marked by turning away from God and embracing the beliefs and practices of other nations. Doing right is following in the ways of King David and worshiping the God of Israel. The reward for devotion to God is having your good and faithful deeds recorded for future generations and being buried in the tombs of your ancestors (i.e. King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:32-33). Failure to follow in the ways of God yields to the recording of unfaithful deeds and failure to be buried in the royal tombs (see King Ahaz in 2 Chronicles 28:26-27).
How can there be such drastic changes in Israel and Judah from one generation to the next? How can a king prove to be so faithful while a king’s son proves to be so unfaithful? I wonder if things would have been different if a faithful leader took the time to fully invest in the next generation? What might have been different if King Hezekiah spent significant time helping his son Manasseh to grow in faithfulness and leadership? We cannot rewrite history, but we can help change the trajectory of another person’s life.
As leaders in our parishes and communities, one of our primary calls is to raise up other leaders. Reading books, watching webinars, and attending conferences won’t make leaders. Leaders make leaders. Leaders are the ones called by God to seek out future leaders and help them to develop their God given gifts and skills. What would our communities and parishes look like if we committed a greater portion of our time to identifying and developing future leaders?
As you read this devotion, I invite you to pray and take a moment to consider whom God may be calling you to guide and to coach. The greatest legacy of a leader is not what they have accomplished, but whom they have helped to develop and grow. My prayer is that God leads you to find your whom.