Use this free lesson on the leadership of King Josiah to show the preteens in your ministry what a truly Godly leader looks like.
Written by Joshua Thompson
Bible: 2 Kings 22:13, 19, and 23:25 & 2 Chronicles 35:26-27
Bottom Line: We can only lead the right way when we lead people God’s way!
OPENING GAME: GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER
Take some time to write cards with movie titles on them that the preteens have most likely seen. Here are a few lists for movies that the kids have probably already seen:
- Cue cards written beforehand
HOW TO PLAY
This game is all about leading others to action. To start, break the preteens into groups of three to four people and choose one person from each group to be the lead director for the first round.
Then instruct the leader that their job is to get their teammates to act out the movie that is on the card in under a minute. As they lead their teammates to act, they cannot say any of the lines from the movie, any character names, nor the title of the movie. The way the team gains a point is if a member of the team guesses the movie title before time runs out.
If time runs out and the team hasn’t guessed correctly, another team can guess and try to win a point.
Once the time is up, the next team comes up and does the exact same thing using their cue card. Also, tell them that after each round a new teammate must become the lead director. The team that has the most points by the end of the game wins.
Awesome job with our game, you guys!
Just like in our game, each of us will probably find ourselves in a position of leadership at some point in our lives.
Now, opportunities for leadership can present themselves in many different ways.
For instance, parents are called to give leadership to their children as they grow up.
Or a teacher may leave the room and place you in charge! Who can tell me some other opportunities for leadership?
[Give preteens a chance to respond and affirm their answers.]
Those are some great examples.
Leadership opportunities can be big or small. And they can last for only a few moments or even for a lifetime.
No matter the type of opportunity for leadership, we should always try to be leaders who do right by others and who honor Jesus too!
The best way to do this is to learn from God’s Word what it means to be a godly leader.
Now, the Bible is full of many kings, rulers, and other types of leaders.
However, the ones who were godly leaders understood that to be a godly leader, you must L.E.A.D. the right way.
[Leader, write the letters “L.E.A.D.” in a vertical descending fashion. As you come across the points below, write that point out. The points that you write will be 1) Listen to the right things, 2) Exemplify the right things, 3) Act on the right things, and 4) Dedicate yourself to the right things.]
One such leader that did this throughout his life was an Israelite man known as King Josiah, whose life is talked about in 2 Kings 22–23.
Though he became a king at the age of eight, he set a godly example of leadership by doing four things well in his life.
The first thing he did was that he listened to the right things [write this out].
Even though Josiah’s kingdom was an Israelite one, the people had literally lost the Word of God, and the kings before Josiah led them to live apart from the true God.
But one day, God’s Word was found and read to Josiah.
After hearing Scripture, this is what Josiah said:
“Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found… because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.” – 2 Kings 22:13
Josiah had this response because he realized that instead of listening to the Lord, the former kings listened to themselves and ignored the Word of God.
Josiah decided that he would not repeat the mistake of past kings. He started to listen to the right things by listening to what the Lord had to say.
The second thing Josiah did was exemplify what is right [write this out].
Can anyone tell me what it means to exemplify something?
[Give preteens a chance to respond.]
To exemplify simply means to show by example.
This is what the Lord said about Josiah’s example:
“You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.” – 2 Kings 22:19
Even though setting the example for others sounds easy, it’s often times one of the most difficult things anyone could do.
In fact, Josiah’s example was pretty radical.
He literally tore his shirt, showed despair, and cried in front of the Lord … and everyone else!
Doing what he did today would be awkward, but back then it was a sign of self-humiliation.
But Josiah did this because he truly believed that repenting was the right thing to do.
Real quick, who can tell us what it means to repent?
[Allow time for preteens to answer.]
Right, repenting means we are sorry for what we did and we turn away from that in order to go toward something different.
So Josiah realized that they had been doing the wrong things, and he was deeply sorry for it. He repented publicly.
And by doing this, he set the example of doing what is right.
The third thing Josiah did was that as the people’s leader, he acted on what was right [write this out].
It’s one thing to set an example for just a moment.
It is a completely different thing to live one’s life doing the right thing day in and day out.
Yet this is exactly what Josiah decided to do!
This is what Scripture says:
“The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion (carried out according to what was written in the Law of the Lord), from beginning to end—all are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.” – 2 Chronicles 35:26-27
Josiah saw to it that as the leader of his nation, his life would follow what the Lord commanded each day.
This certainly wasn’t easy for him because it required him to make many tough choices that changed the lives of others.
But even though they were tough choices that made lots of people unhappy, in God’s eyes, they were the right action to take.
The final thing Josiah did was dedicate himself to what was right [write this out].
Listen to what is said about Josiah from this verse:
“Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” – 2 Kings 23:25
Josiah’s leadership was noted as being unlike any king’s leadership in the history of Israel!
The size of his kingdom or the power he possessed wasn’t what made Josiah stand out.
It was the fact that he put everything he had into following the Lord.
This was something that the other kings of Israel struggled with because they wanted to worship other gods.
Yet while others dedicated themselves to false gods, Josiah dedicated himself to the one true God and will always be remembered for it.
As we close, I hope you noticed two things about Josiah’s leadership.
The first is that in every instance, the “right” thing was always based on what the Lord thought was right … not what Josiah thought was right.
If you want to be a godly leader, then you must do what is right according to God.
The second thing I hoped you noticed is that Josiah’s choice to listen to what was right, set the right example for others, act on what was right, and dedicate himself to what was right is something that we can all do.
Because of Jesus, we not only know what is right but also can lead ourselves and others in the right way.
Let’s pray and go to small groups!
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
- Have you ever had an opportunity to be a leader? What was that experience like for you?
- We talked today about how leading the right way means listening to the right thing. What are the wrong things to listen to as a leader? And what are the right things to listen to as you lead?
- We learned in our lesson that King Josiah set a good example for his people. What makes it difficult to set a good example as a leader?
- What are some examples you can set for others as a leader at home, at school, or at church?
- What are things that make it hard for us to act in ways that are right?
- What does it take to overcome obstacles that keep us from acting in ways that are right?
- What does it mean to dedicate yourself to something?
- As leaders, it’s important to dedicate (or commit) ourselves to doing the right thing. What are some of those right things that you can dedicate/commit yourself to doing?
- In our lesson, we learned that godly leaders 1) Listen to the right things, 2) Exemplify the right things, 3) Act on the right things, and 4) Dedicate themselves to the right things. Which of these four points do you think you do well already? Which of the four points do you want to improve on?
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Like this free lesson? You may also like this free preteen lesson on anger.