Nehemiah carried a deep passion for God, his people, and his homeland. When he heard of the condition of the wall in Jerusalem, his grief overwhelmed him and exploded into a passion to see it restored. As cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, he asked permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall of his city. Nehemiah recognized a problem and took the necessary action to influence his countrymen to restore and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. With God on his side and after much prayer and careful consideration, he planned, contributed, inspired, and overcame obstacles until the walls were supernaturally completed in just fifty-two days!
DID YOU KNOW? City walls seem insignificant in our modern era, but in Nehemiah’s day, they were as vital to life as electricity and running water are to us today. Strong walls provided security and served as protection against outside enemies. When we read that Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of the city in fifty-two days, the reconstruction sounds like it was a walk in the park, right? But the truth is that it was a miraculous achievement. In order to adequately secure the ninety acres of the city, the wall had to be eight feet thick at the base, twenty to thirty feet high, and almost two miles long! The west and north walls were repairable, but the other walls had to be Completely Rebuilt From Scratch! It’s no wonder Nehemiah looked to God First in Prayer BEFORE he ever took action!
LEADERSHIP LESSON #1: START WITH PRAYER! “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and PRAY [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) PRAYER of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (James 5:16 AMP). After Nehemiah received the difficult news that Jerusalem’s holy city walls were still in shambles, He Immediately Turned to Prayer! It wasn’t a quick Prayer either, but instead it included fasting that lasted for days. He considered God’s promises and believed that he himself was a part of the answer – a part of God’s plans. Therefore, he honored God and recognized Him as the Only One who could help him and his people. So he repented for his countrymen and asked God for favor with the king to grant him permission to go and rebuild. Nehemiah was a man of action, BUT he took time to prepare his heart, allowing God room to work according to His Will. Leaders of God, do you allow your passion to motivate you to pour your heart out to God in Prayer before beginning Projects? Remember this: Effective Leadership goes a step further to hear and to do the Will of God, before listening or doing anything else. It’s wonderful to get to work, but more important to get to prayer, BEFORE getting to work!
“Leadership requires vision, and whence will vision come except from hours spent in the presence of God in humble and fervent prayer?” (Aiden Wilson Tozer); “The spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer.” (J. Oswald Sanders); “Prayer-leadership preserves the spirituality of the Church, just as prayerless leaders make for unspiritual conditions.” (Edward McKendree Bounds); Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything is depending on you.” (Saint Augustine); “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.” (Rabindranath Tagore); “God is looking for people to use, and if you can get usable, He will wear you out. The most dangerous prayer you can pray is: ‘Lord, Use Me.’”
LEADERSHIP LESSON #2: ASK FOR DIRECTION! “O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere and fear Your name (Your nature and attributes); and prosper, I pray You, Your servant this day and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was cupbearer to the king” (Nehemiah 1:11 AMP). Nehemiah wasn’t afraid to ask for help! He desperately prayed for direction, eagerly listening for God’s response as he plotted a solution for Jerusalem. When the king noticed his anxiety, he inquired about Nehemiah’s heaviness of heart. It alarmed Nehemiah because it was dangerous to demonstrate sorrow while in the presence of the king. But God brought peace to his heart and gave him the courage to ask the king for permission to go to Jerusalem. Life is so busy that it’s difficult to hear God sometimes. But when we live our lives with a consistently open heart and prayerful attitude, we can receive direction from God as life’s circumstances unfold before us. Leaders of God, never be so proud that you can’t ask for help! And the first person you should seek help from is not the people, but God! Ask Him for direction and guidance! After all His Word admonishes us: “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP.
“Leadership is the ability to guide others without force into a direction or decision that leaves them still feeling empowered and accomplished.” (Lisa Cash Hanson); “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” (Kenichi Ohmae); “Direction is so much more important than speed. Many are going nowhere fast.”; “A leader is responsible for his or her personal direction, growth, and development.” (Glenn C. Stewart)
LEADERSHIP LESSON #3: TAKE OWNERSHIP! “Hanani, one of my kinsmen, came with certain men from Judah, and I asked them about the surviving Jews who had escaped exile, and about Jerusalem. And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven,” (Nehemiah 1:2-4 AMP). Nehemiah had a prominent role in society as the king’s cupbearer. Often in the presence of the king, he had opportunity to speak to him, perhaps sometimes even influencing his decisions. In other words, He could have allowed his cushy job to keep him from feeling responsible for Jerusalem, convincing himself that it was someone else’s responsibility to restore the city. Instead, he allowed himself to be overcome with a passionate ambition to tackle it himself. He felt the pain of his holy city and looked to God for consolation and direction. Even though Nehemiah didn’t live in Jerusalem, he Took Ownership of his city – God’s City. Leaders of God, True Leaders are Willing to Take Responsibility and Personal Accountability instead of Waiting for Someone Else to Act. With that said, is there something God wants you to do? Then what are you waiting for? Ask Him about it and get to it, Today! Stop Waiting And Wasting Time That You Cannot Get Back! Don’t Miss Your Moment To Be A Part Of Something Great! It’s Time to Take Responsibility for Taking the City!
“Leadership involves the heavy burden of responsibility, and the fear of getting it wrong can paralyze a leader.” (John C. Maxwell); “Follow up and follow through until the task is completed, the prize won.” (Brian Tracy); “Leadership is not rank, privileges, title or money. It is responsibility.” (Peter Drucker); “Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses.” (Mitt Romney); “The price of leadership is responsibility…and part of that responsibility is to stay positive whether you feel like it or not.” (Lou Holtz); “Leadership is a responsibility to do more, not an excuse to do less.” (Scott Schroeder); “Leadership is about vision and responsibility, not power.” (Seth Berkley); “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” (Peter Drucker); “Leadership starts with understanding responsibility, not ability. Leadership is a stewardship, not a show.” (Rick Warren); “Real leadership is not about prestige, power, or status. It is about responsibility.” (Robert L. Joss)
LEADERSHIP LESSON #4: HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE! “And came to Jerusalem. Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah in preparing him [an adversary] a chamber in the courts of the house of God! And it grieved me exceedingly, and I threw all the house furnishings of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers; and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the cereal offerings and the frankincense. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers who did the work [forced by necessity] had each fled to his field. Then I contented with the officials and said, Why is the house of God neglected and forsaken? I gathered the Levites and singers and set them in their stations.” (Nehemiah 13:7-11 AMP). Nehemiah returned to Babylon after twelve years in Jerusalem. Though he was only gone for a short time, he found when he returned to Jerusalem that the Jews had seriously defied God’s Law. Allowing marriages between foreigners and Jews was the very thing that brought the curse of captivity upon them, and Nehemiah called the people to be Accountable. He cleaned house and set the foreigners outside the city, shutting the city gates so people would be unable to work on the Sabbath day. He restored the temple and the priest to their rightful places. Nehemiah restored order by doing some things that the Leadership of the city didn’t necessarily like, but it was Important that he hold them Accountable. Leaders of God, doing what is right isn’t always easy or popular, but Leadership Requires Accountability in our Personal Lives and in the lives of those we lead. After all, the Word of God Admonishes Us: “Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (KJV); “Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust]” (1 Corinthians 4:2 AMP). You Cannot Acquire Respect Until You’ve Acknowledged Accountability!
“Leadership is stewardship, it’s temporary and you’re accountable.” (Andy Stanley); “The best leader brings out the best in those he has stewardship over.” (J. Richard Clarke); “Leadership is neither showmanship nor dictatorship. Leadership is a stewardship and partnership.” (Rick Warren); “Hold yourselves accountable before you are held accountable.”; “Championship teams are built on being prepared, playing unselfishly and being held accountable.” (Jason Kidd); “It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” (Molier)
LEADERSHIP LESSON #5: OPPOSE THE OPPOSITION! “Also I said to the king, If it pleases the king, let letters be given me for the governors beyond the [Euphrates] River, that they may let me pass through to Judah, And a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest or park, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple and for the city wall and for the house that I shall occupy. And the king granted what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard this, it distressed them exceedingly that a man had come to inquire for and require the good and prosperity of the Israelites.” (Nehemiah 2:7-8, 10 AMP). Opposition to rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem had been gaining strength for Ninety Years, spurred on by those who had settled on the Jews’ land after they were taken into captivity. That Opposition quickly greeted Nehemiah when he arrived on the scene. Leaders from the outskirts of Jerusalem did not take kindly to this not-so-ordinary exile. But Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer and adviser. He arrived with letters from the king giving him the power and authority to rebuild the walls and fortify the city, and he would not be turned away! Leaders of God, when God has given you an assignment, it’s Vital that you Remain Determined to Succeed No Matter What! Nehemiah worked hard and remained dedicated to rebuilding the city in the face of ridicule! Are You That Determined In The Face of Opposition Not To Abort Your Assignment?
“Great leadership isn’t shaped in the absence of opposition but in the presence of it.” (Charles M. Blow); “Great leadership is not the visit of an unexpected fate but rather a flame which is kept burning in spite of the winds of risk and opposition.” (Mary Anne Radmacher); “Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.” (Dorothy Height); “No true greatness was ever achieved without significant opposition.”; “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” (Albert Einstein); “You face your greatest opposition when your closest to your biggest miracle.” (Bishop T.D. Jakes); “Nobody progresses without opposition.” (Mahatma Gandhi); “When the winds of adversity come, remember one thing – kites fly the very highest against the wind. Kites don’t fly in spite of opposition, kites fly high because of opposition. In fact, they couldn’t fly without opposition.”; “The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it’s the opposition.” (Nick Seitz)
LEADERSHIP LESSON #6: BE A SPIRITUAL ANCHOR! “Then all the people gathered together as one man in the broad place before the Water Gate; and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of them, This day is holy to the Lord your God; mourn not nor weep. For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law” (Nehemiah 8:1, 9 AMP). Nehemiah was not Jerusalem’s religious leader. Although he served as governor, Ezra was the scribe and religious teacher in Nehemiah’s day. Nehemiah was just so moved by his personal relationship with God that he dedicated each day of his life to doing God’s Will. Nehemiah lived the conviction he believed, and working with Ezra, Nehemiah pointed his people back to God. As the Law of Moses was read, the people grieved when they began to understand just how far they had moved beyond what God had instructed them to do. Leaders of God, we need Strong Leaders to help Shape Our World. Nehemiah shaped his city for God and led the people By Example to do the right thing According to God’s Word. He lived his life as a Spiritual Anchor for others that they could draw strength from in times of spiritual unrest. Are You a Nehemiah Leader? One Who Causes the People You Lead to Repent and Return to God from Their Rebellion? Do People Seek You Out to Help Them Get Back Into Right Standing With God, Even if That Includes Correction; Rebuke and Reprove? Do People Seek to Live Better Because of Your Example Before Them?
“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” (John Wooden); “Example is leadership.” (Albert Schweitzer); “Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example.”; “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” (John C. Maxwell); “The best example of leadership is leadership by example.” (Jerry McClain); “A leader leads by example not by force.” (Sun Tzu); “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” (Albert Schweitzer); “Leadership means setting an example. When you find yourself in a position of leadership, people follow your every move.” (Lee Iacocca); “If a leader shows strong discipline, others will see it and cooperate with the expectations placed on them. At this point, leadership by example is crucial.” (J. Oswald Sanders); “Leadership is an active, living process. It is rooted in character, forged by experience, and communicated by example.” (John Baldoni); “A godly leaders finds strength by realizing his weakness; finds authority by being under authority; finds direction by laying down his plans; finds vision by seeing the needs of others; finds credibility by being an example; finds loyalty by expressing compassion; finds honor by being faithful; finds greatness by being a servant.” (Roy Lessin)
LEADERSHIP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
- Most things in life worth having – even a strong relationship with God – require overcoming opposition. What things have you had to fight for, or even stand your ground for, in pursuit of building your relationship with God?
- Nehemiah’s opposition tried to get him to compromise after they saw he would not be stopped. What things have you been tempted to compromise in your walk with God?
- Nehemiah held fast to the truths of God’s Word for himself and his people. What are some of your favorite Scriptures that you hold fast to for your life, especially in hard and challenging times?
- Are you known to go to God in prayer before attempting an assignment for God?
- Are you known to seek God’s direction, or man’s?
- Do you take ownership for the thing that goes Wrong in the church, in the business or in your home?
- Are you a proven leader who can hold others accountable, because you hold yourself accountable?
- How do you handle opposition?
- Would those you lead (be it in business, church or your home) consider you a spiritual anchor? Why or why not?
- How Will Nehemiah’s Lessons On Leadership Provoke You To Be Better?
Let today be the day you learn great lessons set by Nehemiah’s example of godly leadership!
Much Love, Dr. Shermaine #EnjoyTheRead #BeInspired #BeEncouraged #BeEmpowered #BeChallenged #BeAnExample
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