Healthy Leaders


King Jehoshaphat and 3 Examples of Godly Leadership

Matthew FretwellMatthew Fretwell

Ahab king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat King of Judah, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He answered him, “I am as you are, my people as your people. We will be with you in the war.” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.” Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall we go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for God will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” (2 Chronicles 18:3-6)

As a king, Jehoshaphat provides three examples of godly leadership.

1. Godly leaders unite, instead of divide.

King Ahab was far from a godly man; perhaps like someone who left the faith. Nonetheless, Jehoshaphat sees that they are neighbors, originally of the same covenant, and brothers. Godly leaders recognize the greater good and seek to quell division. As Jesus stated, “Blessed are the peacemakers …” (Matthew 5:9). Israel and Judah had been at war for generations ‒ Jehoshaphat desired to see them unite.

Ahab was an interesting character to say the least. As the Scriptures reveal, “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33). Yet, when Ahab humbled himself, God saw his heart and delivered him (1 Kings 21:29). It was most likely Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel, that led him astray. Regardless, Jehoshaphat considered Ahab a brother. Godly leaders are peacemakers ‒ they know how to bring unity.

2. Godly leaders seek prayer first.

Ahab’s appeal to convince Jehoshaphat to engage his enemy does not undermine Jehoshaphat’s faith. A godly leader knows that God orders his steps and is content with walking in those steps. [1]

Jehoshaphat displays the importance of making godly decisions. In leadership, whenever involved in an uncertainty, seeking the Lord becomes essential. Jehoshaphat illustrates that all things should be brought to the Lord first ‒ especially in relation to life-changing decisions that involve the welfare of others. Godly leaders seek God.

3. Godly leaders pursue wisdom and discernment.

Ahab knows Jehoshaphat is a godly man ‒ his intention is to sway Jehoshaphat’s decision for war, by bringing in “prophets.” However, Jehoshaphat uses discernment and wisdom. Jehoshaphat notices that something isn’t right about the so-called “prophets.”

Whether Jehoshaphat visibly observes something, has a gut feeling, or a spiritual-checkup, his decision employs wisdom and discernment. Jehoshaphat asks Ahab, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?” (18:6). Out of 400 prophets ‒ Jehoshaphat doesn’t trust any?

As it happens in the end, Jehoshaphat’s discernment was correct. Jehoshaphat’s example conveys that godly leaders make decisions based upon wisdom and discernment ‒ not upon the status quo or popular choice. Godliness is not about popularity or platform, but God’s will.

Jehoshaphat’s story relates well to leadership. Even though everyone may desire a certain outcome, it does not mean that it’s the right one. Godly leaders must not discard discernment and wisdom for approval, admiration, or popularity.

Godly leadership will always ask, “Can we take time to pray about this?” James 1:5 declares, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Godly leaders are expected to lead believers in spiritual growth and health ‒ seeking God in prayer should always be the priority.

The Apostle Paul proclaimed, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). Godly leaders should be peacemakers. Godly leaders, like Jehoshaphat, view the importance of unity more than division.

So, the next time you’re about to make decisions as a leader, think about Jehoshaphat: Unite people, pray first, and use wisdom.

This article originally appeared here.

[1] Matthew Fretwell, Denied Desires: The Upward Integrity of God’s Servant Job & Why Decisions Matter (Xulon, 2012), 46.

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