“And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah.”
Just because someone’s father was a strong leader doesn’t make them a strong leader. Many sons have inherited their father’s position after he retired or passed away and destroyed what their father built because they were weak leaders. It is not the last name that makes a person a strong leader, but it is their character which determines the strength of their leadership.
If anyone should have learned how to lead, Zedekiah should have been that person. His father was Josiah, who was one of the greatest leaders in Judah’s history. Josiah took a nation that was at the brink of destruction and turned it around into a strong nation, and also brought it into favor with God. As strong of a leader that Josiah was, Zedekiah was that weak. When you look at Zedekiah’s life, you find four characteristics that defined his leadership; characteristics that made him a weak leader. I am going to point out these four weak characteristics so that you can be sure not to let them be a part of your fiber or makeup.
First, weak leadership ignores God’s Word. Verse 2 says, “But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the LORD…” You cannot be a strong leader and at the same time ignore the principles and laws of God’s Word. God’s Word is truth, and truth is at the core of charactered and strong leadership. You must learn not to ignore God’s Word in your life. Read it, memorize it, and live it if you want to lead others in the right way.
Second, weak leadership makes decisions based on fear. In verse 17, Zedekiah asked Jeremiah in secret what he should because of his fear of what others thought about him talking to Jeremiah. Leadership must not lead through fear, but through obedience to God’s Word and faith. One of the purposes of leadership is to make decisions. A leader won’t always make the right decisions, but they must learn from the wrong decisions and continue to make decisions without fear influencing them to stay stagnate.
Third, weak leadership is guided by the populace instead of being led by principle. In Jeremiah 38:5, Zedekiah made decisions based on what the people wanted. Strong leadership isn’t always concerned about the popularity of their decisions, but they make decisions based on right or wrong. If you base your decisions upon whether the people like your decisions, you will be sure to make many wrong and destructive decisions. One characteristic of strong leadership is that they base decisions on right or wrong, even if those decisions make them unpopular. Leaders must not base their decisions on the polls of popularity, but they must base their decisions on the principles of God’s Word.
Fourth, weak leadership seeks better opportunities instead of seeking God’s will. When the Babylonian army invaded Judah, Zedekiah ran instead of staying to defend the people he led. Weak leadership runs when times get hard, and they are always looking for a position of greener grass. The strongest leaders of history didn’t look for other positions, but they chose to stay where they were and make that place better instead of running to the “better” opportunity. Instead of running to the next best opportunity, make the place where you are better; that is what will make you a good leader.