Sometimes we think we need to be high in the pecking order to make a significant difference in the world. There’s a fascinating story in 2 Chronicles 22-24, however, that vividly demonstrates how one person can impact a nation without such credentials.
The books of Chronicles are all about King David and the sons who reigned after him. After David’s kingdom split in two, becoming Israel in the north and Judah in the south, the narrative becomes chapter after chapter of good king/bad king stories.
Israel was notorious for producing some pretty nasty kings, one of the worst being the great Ahab (husband of Jezebel). His bad influence drifted south when his sister Athaliah married Judah’s King Jehoram.
The son of this marriage, Ahaziah, ruled in Judah briefly after his father died. He proved to be a “bad ’un,” however, because he took naughty lessons from his mother. Mercifully for the kingdom of Judah, he was assassinated in short order. Not so mercifully, his momma, Athaliah, used the opportunity to make her own power grab. She swept through the family attempting to kill off anyone with a claim to the throne.
Things looked bad for Judah, but God had a couple aces up His sleeve. Dead King Ahaziah had a sister. She had no claim to the throne, but she and her husband (a priest by the name of Jehoiada) rescued baby Joash from the purge and tucked him out of sight.
Auntie and Uncle raised Joash in secret until the boy turned seven, when Uncle Jehoiada organized a conspiracy that set the boy on the throne and got rid of his crazy grandma at the same time.
Jehoiada spent the rest of his life standing at King Joash’s side. The one great legacy of Joash’s reign was restoring Solomon’s temple (thoroughly desecrated by that time by some thoroughly bad kings) and putting it back in service. The only reason he accomplished this, however, was because of his faithful Uncle Jehoiada’s influence. As long as the priest lived – and he lived 130 years – King Joash did what was pleasing to the Lord and the whole nation reaped the benefit.
Sadly, Joash went bad as soon as his uncle died, but I think that proves my point. The real hero of the story in 2 Chronicles 22-24 wasn’t the king, but his mentor. The strongest power for good in the land for all those years wasn’t the king who got the credit, but the mentor who took him under his wing, even at the risk of harming family connections.
What a testimony for the power of mentorship. Whom are you influencing in your life? To whom do you give advice and dole out counsel? You stand by and support and believe and pray for your charge to do right. Whether that person continues to do well or doesn’t, remember the story of Jehoiada and Joash. Patiently, faithfully execute your influence for good. There’s a whole world of people who will thank you for it.