#091: What To Do When You Are Stuck Cleaning Up Someone Else’s Mess!

Sooner or later you will likely be in the position of needing to clean up someone else’s mess.

Cleanup, Mess

If that call hasn’t come yet it could happen anytime. As a leader, cleaning up someone else’s mess can be a particularly difficult and challenging time in your career, but it can also be an extremely rewarding time.

Cleaning up someone else’s mess may require restructuring the organization, changing its direction, or changing processes that have been in place for years. Often, the sense of urgency is intense—clean up the mess, make the needed changes, and do it quick!

Asa, was the third king of Judah, and the great grandson of Solomon. The Bible describes Asa as a good king, a man “who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 15:11, 2 Chronicles 14:2). We can learn a lot about leadership and how to clean up a mess from him.

Asa became king of Judah when he was only 18-22 years old after his father, Abijah, died. The people of Judah had lived for 20 years under two bad kings, Asa’s father and grandfather. They allowed the people to build altars to foreign gods and worship them as they forsook the God of their fathers, David and Solomon. Asa inherited quite a mess!

Cleaning up the mess

As soon as Asa became king he set about cleaning up the mess in Judah that had been created by his father and grandfather. We may not be the king (or queen) of a nation, like Asa, but if God has granted us the privilege of leading an organization there are things we as leaders must be prepared to do.

1. Asa cleansed the nation of foreign idols. 

Asa took away the foreign altars, the high places, broke down the pillars, and tore down the Asherim (2 Chronicles 14:3).

Lesson for us: Get rid of the idols. The idols took people’s focus away from worshipping the true God. The first thing we need to do in cleaning up an organizational mess is get rid of idols that are distracting people, and are a barrier to change.

2. Asa called the people of Judah back to God. 

Asa commanded Judah to seek the Lord and to keep the law and commandments of God (2 Chronicles 14:4).

Lesson for us: Refocus the organization. Once the idols were gone, Asa refocused the nation on worshipping God. The second thing we need to do is get our organization refocused on what matters most.

3. Asa fortified the cities. 

Asa fortified the cities through Judah by building up the city walls, erecting watch towers, and installing city gates during the times of peace (2 Chronicles 14:6-7).

Lesson for us: Build up the infrastructure. Asa fortified the cities during times of peace. The third thing we need to do is rebuild our organization’s infrastructure to support the renewed focus.

4. Asa built up an army. 

Asa also built up a standing army of 580,000 men of valor and equipped them with shields and spears (2 Chronicles 14:8).

Lesson for us: Prepare the organization for the future. Asa raised an army during a time of peace, and trained and equipped them knowing they would be needed in the future. The fourth thing we need to do is train and equip our organizations to meet future needs.

5. Asa relied on God. 

When the Ethiopian army, which was roughly twice the size of Judah’s army, began to invade Asa cried out to God for help against their enemy, and God gave them a great victory (2 Chronicles 14:9-15).

Lesson for us: Rely on God. When Asa was faced with an invading army that threatened the security of the nation he called out to God. When confronted with a seemingly impossible task or situation, the fifth thing we need to do is call out to and rely on God.

6. Asa listened to the prophet of God. 

Azariah, the prophet of God, told Asa to continue to seek God, to be courageous and not weak, and his work would be rewarded (2 Chronicles 15:1-7).

Lesson for us: Listen to the Holy Spirit and Godly advisors. Asa listened to the prophet Azariah who carried a message from God. The sixth thing we need to do is prayerful listen to the leadings of the Holy Spirit and surround ourselves with Godly advisors.

7. Asa acted on the prophet’s message. 

Asa immediately renewed his efforts to cleanse the entire nation, including newly captured cities of foreign idols. He even took away his mother’s title as queen mother because she had foreign idols and destroyed the idols she had set up (2 Chronicles 15:8, 16).

Asa repaired the altar of God, reinstituted sacrifices to God, and encouraged the whole nation to enter into a covenant to worship God (2 Chronicles 15:8-15).

Lesson for us: Act. The Bible says as soon as Asa heard the encouraging words of the prophet he was courageous and continued in the work that he had undertaken. The seventh thing we need to do is to act! As leaders we should not ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit or the advice of Godly advisors, but should consider their advice and take action.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! Have you had to clean up someone else’s mess at some time in your career? If so, what worked well for you, or what did you struggle with?

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Category: Relationships | Power/Influence


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  • […] weeks ago our topic “What to do when you are stuck cleaning up someone else’s mess” examined seven lessons we learned from King Asa as he cleaned up the mess left by his father and […]