80 Valiant Men
Consider these nine traits of a valiant leader.
By Scott Hagan
Mindful of a coming sunrise, the Almighty entered Eden and began taking inventory. He was short two humans and one apple. Also missing was the former atmosphere of uninhibited communion between himself and His creation. The once pure air of Eden reeked with silence, shame, and the first ever game of hide and seek.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the property line separating heaven and earth. God did not create it to be crossed, yet Adam and Eve, patrons of free will, chose to hop the fence and pluck the forbidden fruit.
God quickly called those responsible to step forward. The man got sweat. The woman contractions. The snake, because he was the instigator, received his sentence in three stages. First he would lose his legs. Next he would lose the keys. Finally, he would lose it all. In other words, on the eighth day God created … accountability.
For nearly six millennia after the Garden collapse, the human race has limped along with its usual cycle of battles, bloodshed, plagues, and broken promises. Occasionally, a young boy grew to become a prophet with the grandeur of revival, only to discover that like those who came before him, he was prophesying to deaf ears and divided hearts.
Running parallel to the prophets were promising new kings who would take power and attempt to govern by virtue instead of aggression. But time and again, like the prophets, they found themselves leading hardened nations who opted out for stone deities instead of a living and loving God.
King Uzziah was such a king. Sixteen is a rare starting point in life. While you and I found ourselves driving our first car at 16, Uzziah found himself behind the wheel of a nation. His exploits were jaw dropping. His military moves were the envy of kings. But like many successful people, Uzziah became proud and presumptuous. Feeling the strength of personal sovereignty, Uzziah crossed the boundaries of God’s laws and entered the temple to burn incense — a role strictly reserved for priests.
Bursting through the temple doors was Azariah the priest along with “eighty priests of the Lord, valiant men. They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary’ ” (2 Chronicles 26:17,18, NASB1).
Gutsy, to say the least. More than a voice of reason, these friends of the Lord and Uzziah spoke with the voice of restraint. Every leader needs someone who will love enough to speak valiantly (courageously) into his or her life and circumstances. Certainly, no leader needs a reckless and selfishly ambitious person in their ear hindering their leadership. This is not the mission of this encouragement. Instead, we need a valiant voice or two with both God’s reputation and ours at heart.
The motive of these 80 priests is simple. As valiant men, they wanted Uzziah to remain valiant as well. Success breeds many ills; one main contagion is presumption. It makes a leader self-believe that he is innately right about anything and everything, that he can trust his every impulse. Yet, we see that the course chosen by Uzziah was anything but trustworthy. In this case, God’s grace came through accountability and the hope of 80 valiant men. Sadly, Uzziah became enraged with the thought of having to give account for his behavior. That rage cost Uzziah everything. It will in any man’s life.
I recently spoke to group of leaders about this passage and the personal hope I have for staying valiant for lifetime. I listed nine traits I have noticed throughout the last 30 years about valiant leaders and the valiant voices they offer.
When it comes to valiant leadership, I foremost want to be one. Equally important though, may I hear one when he speaks up on behalf of God. Here is what it takes to be a valiant leader:
A valiant leader is passionate. He has become the change he seeks. He operates in the intuitive gifts God has given him. He loves inspiring those around him to become their best and live out their design. He balances well a life of passion and practical living.
A valiant leader loves God every day. He does the things that matter most. His love for the Word of God and Bible study runs deep and is a habit for which others know him. He has sensitivity to God’s presence and a prayer life to prove it. He desires greater faith and builds that desire through fasting.
A valiant leader has great friendships. Just like Jesus, he loves all men the same. He never imparts stigmas. Instead, he implores the world around to build lasting connections. He develops friendships with other men inside a committed circle. Yet, his sphere of friendships reaches into the marketplace. He always has a place in his heart for new men.
A valiant leader rules his spirit. He is a man of grace not impulse. He never raises his voice to manipulate or coerce the emotions of another. He exercises respect for others in the marketplace. Integrity is the mark of his private life.
A valiant leader loves to serve. He is humble and sees the value of little things. He uses his gifts and passions to serve others apart from his professional duties. He pitches in to help a neighbor in need. No assignment is beneath him.
A valiant leader lives generously. He sees money as the test of gratitude and trust. He returns to the Lord God’s tithes and offerings. He is intentional with his finances and commitments. He prepares for the future by saving money.
A valiant leader shares his faith. He is on mission no matter where he is. He is never embarrassed or ashamed of Jesus. He looks for ways to bring other men to his church. He takes time in the marketplace to pray for people.
A valiant leader loves his church. The church is a key part of his life. For the valiant pastor, the church is not his office, but a house of worship, learning, and serving. He prays regularly for other leaders and their families. He speaks well of them and handles conflict biblically. He invests his own personal resources in the church’s vision before he asks others to do so.
A valiant leader loves his family. His passion for God and life begins at home. He shapes and resources the dreams of his family. He prepares for their future possibilities. He celebrates their unique gifts, talents, and relationships. He sees marriage is a gift, not a grind.
The tragic fact is this: Uzziah died a leper. An untouchable. An outcast. Though surrounded by valiant men, Uzziah died lonely and mostly forgotten — a physical fugitive. His obituary might have read “king,” but his eulogy said “fool.” Uzziah could have avoided such an end had he been just one more thing — teachable.
Stay valiant, friends. It will take you farther than staying relevant.
1. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard BibleÂ®, Copyright Â© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission (www.Lockman.org).