Church Planting, Faith Nurture
Lose a Wise Friend, Lose Your Mind
October 2, 2014
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How do you go crazy? There are more than a few ways, but one is to lose a wise friend who keeps your mind focused on what matters. King Uzzaih in the book of Chronicles (his story is surprisingly short in the book of 2 Kings) has this stunningly great start to being king. Building projects, battles won, all the things a king loves. In it all he has a friend who keeps him from going crazy (you go crazy when you no longer fear the LORD). It says in 2 Chronicles 26.5 "He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper." Being instructed means that Zechariah taught Uzziah how to be a discerning king, he didn't just have knowledge, he knew how to use the knowledge he had, he knew how to fear the LORD and so how to live a life of wisdom (i.e. how to live in God's good but fallen world).
Somewhere along the line, however, Zechariah disappears. When he disappears, Uzziah heads down the path of crazy. He tries to step in and take over the work of the priests. It's a power move to grab on to all the branches of influence in Judah. 2 Chronicles 26 helps us see the whole picture, “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah 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. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him.” (2 Chronicles 26:16–20 ESV) Unfaithful translates Hebrew ma‘al . It carries the sense of affronting God's holiness (as in a violated oath) failing to accord him his due in worship. Uzziah impugned God's holiness by trespassing on the temple, which was for the priests and Levites only, and by seeking to offer incense, a duty reserved for the priests alone."
So Uzziah goes crazy when he loses his friend/mentor. It makes you wonder what crazy you can get in to when you lose a friend who keeps you in the fear of the LORD.
In the world of church planting we know that one of the most important people in the life of a church planter is a good coach. Someone who can help navigate the ins and outs of starting a new church. One of the reasons CRC Home Missions holds to the idea of “no coach, no cash” is because we know that good coaches are critical to the life and vitality of both the planter and the new church.
But beyond that, we all need wise people who mentor us and keep us from getting into all kinds of crazy. Good mentors have the power to turn our eyes to the scriptures in ways that keep us faithful to God. Good mentors have the ability to help us see a situation from a different angle that either helps us toward a different solution or helps us not to blow up a situation because we can’t see other perspectives. Good mentors have the ability to ask good questions. Good mentors are God’s gift for healthy living and healthy ministry.
As Uzziah found, without a good mentor you can get into all kinds of crazy. What role have mentors played in your life? Who have you helped along the path by being a mentor? What wisdom can you pass on to the rest of us about what makes for being a good mentor.
By the way, you can read Uzziah's story here and also the New Testament passage that I think helps us to keep from this kind of crash.
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