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  • Hannah Williamson

Bringing Change - lessons from Hezekiah

The last few years have brought about huge amounts of change in our world. I was thinking the other day about how strange it is that we all have our own little labs in our houses - doing lateral flow tests for covid - who would have thought! For me personally the past few years have brought about huge change in my own life and at times this can feel unnerving and scary. As leaders there are times we have to bring change in order to move things forward and I find myself working with lots of different churches and particularly Youth Pastors helping them review where they are at and how they can change to positively moving into the future. We all know what it’s like to have things change that are out of our control, but when we are the ones bringing the change we can often forget what it can be like and how it affects the people around us. In 2 Chronicles 29 amidst a whole heap of bad kings we find a gooden’ - Hezekiah. He becomes King at the age of 25 and very quickly brings change to the nation. I think there are a few things we can learn from him about bringing change into the environments we lead in….

In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.” 2 Chronicles 29:3

I have friends who took on leading a fairly traditional church in the Welsh valleys. The front of the building that they took on had heavy wooden doors with little light coming in. One of the big projects they are looking at changing is ensuring there are glass doors so that people can see inside the building which will hopefully encourage more people to come in. Hezekiah at the fairly young age of 25 clearly saw the importance straight away into his leadership of opening up doors that may well have been shut before. I love watching home renovation shows and in many of them they look for ways to bring more light in. I think there is something we can learn here when it comes to change. We may have ideas in our head about why something need to change but so often just bring the change with little explanation. It may help people if rather than just changing something immediately we think ‘transparency’ and give an explanation as to the ‘why.’ My friends in Wales realised that certain people in their community were too nervous to come into the building because they couldn’t see what they were coming into. They used this explanation to help the rest of their church understand why spending out on glass doors was not only important but vital to reaching people outside the doors. Being honest, open and giving a clear explanation can help people face change a little easier.

2. GATHER leaders
“He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side and said, ‘Listen to me Levites….’ 2 Chronicles 29:4

Hezekiah’s next move was to gather the leaders - the influencers. To bring change he needed these influencers ‘on side’ and understanding the need to change. If you read on from verse 4 you see that Hezekiah gave a quick history of what had brought them to this point and how now was the time for change. It can be easy once you have an idea in your head just to get on and do it but the reality is for change to be lasting we need people who catch the burden alongside us. At my previous church one of the roles I had was to oversee various teams that helped to make Sundays happen. There were some areas that needed change brought to them and there were some areas that needed to be created. For both, I needed to look for leaders to lead - people who would bring spiritual influence not just be able to manage people. Sometimes it took a little while but I would always be on the hunt for leaders who I could gather to outwork any change needed. I certainly couldn’t be everywhere at once as no longer should be and so gathering people alongside me was vital.

3..MOTIVATE the young people
“My sons, do not be negligent now, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before him and serve him….” 2 Chronicles 29:11

I love this part of the passage. Hezekiah has given a bit of a history of how things have gone wrong (helping them understand the need for change) and then he motivates the ‘sons. ’ This is interesting to me as it is clear that Hezekiah is only 25 so to call someone a ‘son’ would suggest he was older than them. In the few verses before this he also refers to fathers having died ‘by the sword’ - this can help us to presume that whatever their age they were probably younger rather than older. Young people are definitely more adaptable to change. I think this is why I loved and still love youth ministry and the developing of younger leaders. Generally young leaders don’t think they know it all and so are eager to learn. Young people have more energy and often time to be able to give. Hezekiah was wise in addressing those who had their whole life ahead of them, motivating them to change. I personally get so excited when I can sit with a young person hearing their dreams and just encourage them that anything is possible with God! Yes, of course hardships will come but I think young people need to be encouraged not discouraged in their dreaming. Change begins with a dream of a better future.

4. CLEAR OUT unnecessary baggage
When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the Lord, as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 29:15

I have recently been watching a TV show called ‘sort your life out’ where Stacey Solomon (a Dagenham girl I note!) helps people sort through all their belongings, getting rid of anything not necessary and so cleaning up their house. So often the people on the show, don’t just have physical baggage but emotional baggage that they have been carrying and spend a great deal of time trying to work through that in order to ‘clear out.’ I think this is an interesting aspect of change. When we want to bring change we have to recognise that there is often unnecessary baggage lying around that needs to be sorted. The leaders in the temple were told to bring out any items that needed to be got rid of. Things that were connected to their rather sordid past. When we bring change to something we often have to help people recognise (including ourselves) the baggage that we are carrying around - that may be negative mindsets, low faith levels, poor self esteem or a whole load of other things! In order to bring real change maybe we need to have a mental clear out and then move forward strongly!!!!

5. Elevate SACRIFICE
“Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar.” 2 Chronicles 29:27

This is a powerful thought - for change to come, the people had to bring a sacrifice before God. Change is never easy as we know and sometimes it requires us laying down what we once had to move into what God has for us. This sacrifice was worship to God. A way of saying we give the best of what we have because you, God, alone are the best we have. In order to bring real change we may well have to sacrifice - whether this means financially, with time or emotionally. Change is hard work but can bring great outcomes. Who wants to get stuck doing the same things over and over when you could explore new ways to grow into more of what God has for you? The verse here says that Hezekiah, the leader, gave the order to sacrifice. He inspired the people to sacrifice. In order to bring real change we may well have to inspire those we lead to greater levels of sacrifice.

I love how chapter 29 of 2 Chronicles ends. It says, ‘Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.’ (verse 36) Change is rarely quick especially when it involves people and people’s mindsets however when God is involved anything can happen. Hezekiah and the people had to do their part - commit to transparency, gather leaders, motivate young people, clear out unnecessary baggage and elevate sacrifice, but then God did the rest and when God is ready to move He will move!

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