LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM KING ASA

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

The story of King Asa is recorded both in 1 Kings 15:9-24 and 2 Chronicles 14-16. He was the third king of Judah succeeding his father, Abijam, who reigned after his father, Rehoboam. 1 Kings 15:11-15 provides some information about his reign: “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David. And he banished the perverted persons from the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. Also he removed Maachah his grandmother from being queen mother, because she had made an obscene image of Asherah. And Asa cut down her obscene image and burned it by the Brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed. Nevertheless Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD all his days. He also brought into the house of the LORD the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils” (NKJV).

If one limits one’s reading about the forty-one-year reign of Asa to 1 Kings 15, one will not be able to learn much from his life. It is true that he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, but that was only up to a point during his reign. Yes, he led many religious reforms, but he didn’t finish well. He wasn’t the only king who started well but didn’t finish well. There are, therefore, both positive and negative leadership lessons to learn from Asa’s life.

Leadership Lessons

1. Do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD. 2 Chronicles 14:2 says, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God” (NKJV). 1 Kings 15:11 says a similar thing: “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did his father David” (NKJV).

David was not his immediate father, but he was a descendant of David. The comparison was with regard to the dedication of David to serving God. Asa did not behave like his biological father, Abijam, of whom the Bible says, “And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kings 15:2-4 NKJV).

Unlike his father, Asa’s heart was loyal to the LORD all his days (1 Kings 15:14). Unfortunately, however, as I’ve said, that good record didn’t last till the end of his reign.

Some of the good and right things that Asa did in the sight of the LORD were the sweeping religious reforms that he implemented.

Asa brought purity into the worship of God. He banished perverted persons from the land, removed all the idols that his fathers had made. He also brought into the house of the LORD the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which he himself had dedicated: silver and gold and utensils (1 Kings 15:12, 15). He removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 14:5-6).

In 2 Chronicles 15:1-9, he was further encouraged by the words of Azariah the son of Oded, whom the Spirit of the LORD came upon. He charged Asa to seek the Lord, and Asa undertook more religious reforms.

When the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, he said, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2-3 NKJV). Leaders should seek the Lord and do what is right in His sight like Asa did in the greater part of his reign.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (NKJV).  Proverbs 16:25 says the same thing. Don’t do what seems right to you; do what seems right to God. Seek the Lord. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV).

Leaders should not follow bad examples. Asa didn’t follow the bad example of his biological father; his reign was, therefore, compared to that of David, a man after God’s heart. It is only sad that he didn’t finish strong.

2. Have a positive influence on others. Leadership is influence. Good leadership is a positive influence. Asa had a positive influence on his subjects. He told his people to seek the Lord God of their father and to do the laws and the commandment. He led them to rebuild the city of Judah. “Therefore he said to Judah, ‘Let us build these cities and make walls around them, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us, because we have sought the LORD our God; we have sought Him, and He has given us rest on every side.’ So they built and prospered” (2 Chronicles 14:7-8 NKJV).

He also led the people to enter into a covenant to seek the LORD. “Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.  Then they took an oath before the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around” (2 Chronicles 15:12-15 NKJV). That was leadership for good and for God which every leader should imbibe and deliver always.

3. Admit your helplessness and seek God’s help. Asa knew his helplessness and sought God’s help. He cried to God in his helplessness and God helped him. Because of this, his army of 580,000 men was able to defeat the enemy’s army of one million men and three hundred chariots. 2 Chronicles 14:9-15 says, “Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, ‘LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!’ So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the LORD and His army. And they carried away very much spoil. Then they defeated all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD came upon them; and they plundered all the cities, for there was exceedingly much spoil in them. They also attacked the livestock enclosures, and carried off sheep and camels in abundance, and returned to Jerusalem” (NKJV).

It is not a sign of weakness for a leader to admit his helplessness before God and seek His help. God is nobody’s mate! He’s got all the power; He has no limitation. Even the greatest man’s strength or power is nothing before God. It’s a sign of foolishness to show a non-existent strength before God. Asa was wise, and God came to his rescue, even though towards the end of his life, he failed to maintain this same attitude of crying to God for help.

Leaders must learn to put their trust in God always and not in their intelligence, achievements, personnel, riches or wealth, connections, etc.  Psalm 33:16-17 says, “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength” (NKJV).  Nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).

To put your trust in man is to put yourself under a curse because God is a jealous God. He wants human beings which He created in His image not to put their trust in fellow humans. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited” (Jeremiah 17:5-6 NKJV). When faced with any challenge, leaders should be able to say like Hezekiah when confronted by Sennacherib, “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles” (2 Chronicles 32:8 NKJV).    

4. Be courageous. Courage is very important in leadership. It is an essential quality. Following the death of Moses, the man of God, God had to tell his successor, Joshua to be strong and very courageous. (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9) Even after he accepted God’s challenge to him and addressed the people, the people also reiterated what God had told him. They told him, “only be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:18).

Asa was a courageous leader. He demonstrated courage when he cleansed the nation of abominable idols. 2 Chronicles 15:8 says, “And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the LORD that was before the vestibule of the LORD” (NKJV). The words of Oded the prophet ignited courage in him to cleanse the nation of the abominable idols.

Asa also demonstrated unique courage when he deposed Maachah, his grandmother, as queen mother because she was promoting idolatry (2 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Kings 15:13). That was a courageous action. He wasn’t sentimental or emotional. He valued obedience to God above family ties.

A leader must have the courage to do the right things not caring whose ox is gored. A Christian leader, in particular, must promote obedience to the Word of God, loyalty to God above any other relationship including family relationships. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37 NKJV).

5. Never allow anyone to replace God in your life. Asa failed in this regard. He used Benhadad, king of Syria, to replace God in his life. Early in his reign, he had trusted God against the army of Zerah the Ethiopian. Asa’s army of 580,000 men routed Zerah’s army of one million men and their chariots.

But in his thirty-sixth year on the throne, he couldn’t trust God again! When Baasha, king of Israel, came up against Judah, Asa entered into a military alliance with King Benhadad of Syria. “Asa responded by taking the silver and gold from the treasuries of the LORD’s Temple and from the royal palace. He sent it to King Ben-hadad of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus, along with this message: ‘Let us renew the treaty that existed between your father and my father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.’ Ben-hadad agreed to King Asa’s request and sent his armies to attack Israel. They conquered the towns of Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all the store cities in Naphtali. As soon as Baasha of Israel heard what was happening, he abandoned his project of fortifying Ramah” (2 Chronicles 16:2-6 NLT).

God is a jealous God. He wasn’t pleased with what Asa did. Though the alliance worked, and Israel didn’t attack Judah, God sent a prophet to Asa to condemn what he had done; he passed a judgment on him. “At that time Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, ‘Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of in the LORD your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram. Don’t you remember what happened to the Ethiopians and Libyans and their vast army, with all of their chariots and horsemen? At that time you relied on the LORD, and he handed them all over to you. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on, you will be at war’” (2 Chronicles 16:7-10 NLT). If God had protected him and Judah for thirty-five years, Asa should have known better.

Leaders must know the difference between God and man! They shouldn’t pretend to be confused about the two! God will forever be God; man can never be God! Leaders shouldn’t put themselves in trouble by trying to replace trust in God with trust in man. It won’t work!

6. Do not use methods not approved by God even if it works. By the standard of God, what makes something right is not that the thing is working. It may work but it may not be right. God questions result!

The ark of God must never be carried in a cart, not even in a new cart (2 Samuel 6:3).  It must always be carried by the Levites on their shoulders (1 Chron 15:13). That was the error David made the first time he tried to bring the ark of God in a procession from Baalah of Judah (Kiriath-jearim) into Jerusalem, and a tragedy, Uzzah’s death, aborted the procession. Carrying the ark of God in a new cart was using the method of the Philistines (1 Samuel 6:7-11). It might be right for the Philistines but it wasn’t right for the Israelites.

Asa adopted the method of the earthen, a carnal method against the enemy. When King Baasha of Israel, a neighbor, came against Judah, and Asa entered into a military alliance with Syria, he was using worldly wisdom (2 Chronicles 16:2-6). This alliance wasn’t of God hence God’s judgment as we have seen. That was the beginning of Asa’s problem with God and indeed the beginning of his end.

A good idea is not necessarily God’s idea. Leaders must be careful; they should always seek the mind of God and seek His approval on measures to take in any situation, especially when the will of God is not clearly revealed in His Word. They should avoid acting under pressure or assuming on God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (NLT).

7. Watch your life so that you don’t act foolishly. “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10 NKJV). King Asa acted foolishly.  That was how God described the alliance he had with Benhadad of Syria. Hear what God said through the seer, Hanani, He sent to him: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly” (2 Chron 16:9 NKJV). To do foolishly means to act without a good sense of judgment.

What Hanani told King Asa was similar to what Samuel told Saul when he intruded into the office of a priest by offering sacrifice to the LORD, which wasn’t his duty. “And Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever” (1 Sam 13:13 NKJV). That was the beginning of the end for Saul.

David also did foolishly when he conducted a census of the Israelites against all efforts by Joab to discourage him from doing so. God didn’t ordain that census. It was actually Satan who stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel (2 Chronicles 21:1). David himself thereafter condemned his foolish action. “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly’” (2 Samuel 24:10 NKJV). 1 Chronicles 21:8 says a similar thing. Because of that foolish action of David, seventy thousand innocent Israelites died from the plague of judgment God sent.

We can also learn from the error of Moses’ sister, Miriam, and his brother, Aaron who spoke against Moses. After Miriam had become leprous, Aaron begged Moses: “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned” (Num 12:11 NKJV). Miriam paid dearly for her foolish action but because of God’s mercy in accepting Aaron’s plea, he was spared.

Psalm 106:33 says, “They [the Israelites] made Moses angry, and he spoke foolishly” (NLT). That foolish action of Moses abruptly terminated his forty years of a glorious ministry! This time, Aaron, Moses’ brother and Israel’s first high priest, wasn’t spared. His ministry ended too. He died at Mount Hor before Moses was called home.

Leaders should avoid foolish actions that can have serious repercussions on them, their families, the people and organizations they lead, their destiny, etc. They should learn from Asa, Miriam, Aaron, Saul, David, and others in the Bible or others in contemporary history who acted foolishly. “Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding” (Proverbs 9:6 NKJV).

8. Always imbibe the fear of God. One of the vital things the Lord requires of his children is to fear Him (Deuteronomy 10:12). That’s not talking of negative fear but relating with the awesome God, the consuming fire, in high esteem. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (NKJV). Job 28:28 says a similar thing. “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (NKJV). According to Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (NKJV).  Proverbs 14:27 says, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life” (NKJV).

Asa lost the fear of God. That’s why he didn’t tremble at the Word of God brought by the seer, Hanani, to him condemning him for relying on the king of Syria instead of relying on the LORD for victory against Israel thereby missing the chance to destroy the Syrian army (2 Chronicles 16:7). Rather than listen to what the seer said and repent, Asa became angry and threw him in prison. He also started to oppress some of his people. Maybe those who opposed him (2 Chronicles 16:10). He had lost the fear of God so he could act wickedly. The Bible says by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil (Proverbs 16:6).

Leaders should imbibe the fear of the Lord. It would help them in their relationship with God and fellow human beings. Anyone who lacks the fear of God is capable of doing evil without his conscience pricking him. “All who fear the LORD will hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13 NLT). Anyone who lacks the fear of the Lord will disobey the Lord without feeling guilty.

If a leader fears the Lord, he’ll obey His Word. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NKJV). If a leader fears the Lord, he’ll not be oppressive. He’ll rule in the fear of the Lord.  “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3 NKJV). If a leader fears the Lord, his subjects, his followers, will be happy. “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan” (Proverbs 29:2 NLT). Be a God-fearing leader.

9. Repent of your sin and return to God. Don’t be stubborn. Don’t persist in error. Repent, and God will forgive you, but if you persist stubbornly, you’ll destroy your life.

Asa sinned, but instead of repenting and returning to God, whom he had served and pleased for thirty-five years, he didn’t.  “For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not” (Isaiah 30:15 NKJV).

Just like the LORD told the church in Ephesus to repent and do the first works, Asa ought to have repented and returned to the LORD. “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV).

However, Asa continued in rebellion against God, and rebellion is a serious sin. Samuel said to Saul, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23 NKJV).

The prophet laments in Lamentation 3:40-42, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD; Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven. We have transgressed and rebelled; You have not pardoned” (NKJV).

Because Asa failed to repent, when the prophet told him of God’s displeasure with the military alliance with Syria and incarcerated him, he progressed in error by turning his back at God when he was sick as we shall see shortly.

Nobody is morally perfect. We all make mistakes in life, but we should be humble enough to admit our errors. To admit one’s mistakes, though might not be easy sometimes, ultimately does not diminish one. It only shows one has integrity.

Leaders should not cover their sins. They should repent of their sins, confess and forsake them. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NKJV). Acts 3:19 says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (NKJV).

God is a compassionate God. God will forgive anyone, including any leader, who sincerely repents and confesses his sins.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10 NKJV). If you return to Him, He will return to you (Zechariah 1:3). It is only in returning to the Lord and resting in Him that anyone can be saved (Isaiah 30:15).

To every leader, especially a Christian leader, who is living in sin, the Lord is saying, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (Joel 2:12 NKJV). No leader can be a godly and effective leader unless he makes his way right with the Lord. 

10. Don’t promote human help above divine help. Don’t replace divine help with human help whether it is financial, medical, legal, or any help for that matter. God won’t physically come down to earth to help you; He can use human beings, nature, etc. But you don’t know who He wants to use or how. That’s why your faith should look unto God. If you must talk to man, talk to God first. Even when human beings are helping you, don’t let them replace God in your life.

Asa made a mistake. He replaced God’s help with the doctor’s help! He died of his sickness because he ignored the help of God. “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign” (2 Chronicles 16:12-13 NKJV).

If Asa had repented and cried to God, He could have healed him. Hosea 6:1 says, “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up” (NKJV).

Asa’s problem actually started three years earlier in the thirty-sixth year of his reign when instead of trusting God to give him victory over Israel he went into a military alliance with Syria (2 Chronicles 16:1-5). As we saw earlier, despite rebuke from the LORD, he was rebellious, unrepentant, adamant. Three years later, in his thirty-night year on the throne, he was afflicted with a disease in his feet, yet he failed to seek the LORD’s help.  If the LORD allows someone to be afflicted with a disease, which doctor will heal such a person? Impossible! The sickness lasted two years. In his forty-first year on the throne, he died.

Medical help should not be despised but it has limitations. Doctors care but it’s only God who heals. If God refuses to heal you, who will? If you must go to the hospital, go with faith in God, go having prayed that God will direct you, will help the health caregivers so that they will do the right thing. There are cases of wrong diagnose, wrong prescription, and all forms of human error. So the best hospital is not a perfect system.

Leaders should trust God for their health without despising or rejecting medical care. God is the Great Physician; health caregivers are only trying their best. Many of them will tell you this truth. There are many things beyond their power. They fall sick too and die even with the best medical attention. Don’t despise divine healing. God’s name is Jehovah Rapha – the LORD that heals (Exodus 15:26). Pray to God for your healing even if you have to go to the hospital. Doctors are not God! Doctors are humans not spirits! (Isaiah 31:3). “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright” (Psalm 20:7-8 NKJV).

11. Never allow the fire to go down in your life. Asa’s love for God waxed cold in the last years of his life. The fire of love for God started going down in his thirty-sixth year on the throne as we have seen. Like the Church at Ephesus, he apparently left his first love (Revelation 2:4).

Prior to that, it had been said that he did what was right in the sight of the LORD (1 Kings 15:11). He backslid, so to speak. He spent forty-one years on the throne, but the last four years messed up his thirty-five years of a good record.

Every leader should watch his walk with God. 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (NKJV).  Keep the spiritual fire in your life burning. Don’t become lukewarm like the church of the Laodiceans. God hates lukewarmness.  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev 3:15-17 NKJV). Be diligent, not slothful; be fervent in spirit; serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

Conclusion: God allows us to have access to information about the lives of Bible characters so that we can learn from them. Their failures are made open to us not to judge them but to avoid making similar mistakes. Having gone through the life of King Asa in this message, may the LORD help you to be a better Christian and indeed a better leader. You will not repeat Asa’s errors in Jesus’ name. You will finish well.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

.T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
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