The king who did not finish well

Posted on December 13, 2011 by


Uzziah who began his rule as King of Judah at age 16, was a remarkable king, and his life provides a great case study in leadership (See 2 Chronicles 26). He honored his family/the throne, provided for his people, organized & equipped his people, trained others for leadership, promoted innovation, and was known far & wide. His accomplishments are impressive and include the following:

  • conquering the Philistines, Arabians, & Meunites,
  • establishing protectorate-type relationships with Ammonites
  • established communities throughout the conquered lands
  • established agricultural success throughout the land
  • lead 2600 men of valor that oversaw army of 307, 500
  • designing & creating a strong military

One insight we learn is that Uzziah had a mentor named Zechariah who taught him how to fear the Lord. As long as Uzziah pursued the Lord in this way, he prospered. This is a biblical principle that is familiar to many of us. We have taught campaigner or leadership lessons on it often using 2 Tim 2:2 as the primary text. We see relational discipleship throughout the scriptures. Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Jesus and Peter, James, & John just to name a few. Do you have an older & wiser person giving you input? Wisdom, encouragement, and accountability are obvious benefits available to us when submit to folks who are further along than us. Have you kept this as a priority in your life? Too often, as our responsibility and influence grows we can experience a slow drift away from prioritizing these relationships.

A second insight we observe in Uzziah’s life is what happens when pride becomes dominant. This prosperous, successful, and experienced king confuses his role and chooses to enter the temple in an attempt to make sacrifices. He is confronted by 82 priests. Rather than repent, Uzziah responds with anger, and the Lord strikes him with leprosy. The king is banished, and lives out his life in isolation. This young king who started so strong and grew into an impressive leader did not finish well. In fact, he was initially buried outside the city and away from the site his ancestors and other royalty were buried.

How did he stumble? Outside of the succumbing to pride and unfaithfulness, we are not given details on the circumstances that lead to his demise. Did he cease to meet with Zechariah? We know the rabbinical model of teaching and tutoring involved a more comprehensive modeling than we are accustomed to in the West. Did the duties of leading infringe on his accountability? It is likely that he began to “believe his own press clippings.” Buzz words and phrases frequently lose their effectiveness through over-use. However, as leaders we all need to check our hearts on this: are you beginning to believe your own press clippings? Humility is esteemed by the Lord! (Mt 5:5, James 4:6, I Peter 5:5 ) Do you have a peer or an older friend who is not impressed by you and your accomplishments? Someone who will confront you when pride rears its ugly head? Remember that “pride comes before a fall” (Pr 16:18) .

Even James and John sought God’s glory in Mk 10:37 in stead of humble service . Let’s remember that we are at best unprofitable servants. We must acknowledge that in all circumstances we called to simply do our job without fanfare and notice– what a servant should do. Luke 17:10.  As your experience, responsibilities, and influence grow, you will be recognized more readily.  Uzziah’s fame spread far without the internet, twitter, or a 4G network.  To sustain your leadership you will need a mentor who can model what it is to fear the Lord – a friend who will recognize when you begin to drift and who will serve as a tether for you.   To finish well, we all must have someone walk with us and mentor us into true spiritual leaders who will remain faithful and humble. Find someone to walk with you, to help you develop the character that your calling requires.