Over the past 32 years of ministry, I have preached through the book of Nehemiah at least twice, if not three times. Just this week I started reading through Nehemiah again in my One-Year Bible. I absolutely love this book because it is a classic on leadership. Here are some of my thoughts on leadership from Nehemiah 1 that I think apply to all – whether you are a pastor, staff member, or church member. Everything rises and falls on leadership!
When God gets ready to get a job done, He raises up a leader. Nehemiah was a cupbearer. It may sound insignificant, but it was a much needed position. One of the essential qualities of a cupbearer is trust. Christians need to be known for their trustworthiness, honesty, and loyalty!
You never know what a day may bring. It was just a routine day when Moses saw a burning bush. It was just a routine day when David was called home from the shepherd’s field. Be faithful where God has placed you in the daily grind. God makes Kings out of shepherds and Governors out of cupbearers.
Nehemiah found the Jewish people “in great distress and reproach,” the wall of Jerusalem broken down, and its gates burned with fire (Neh. 1:3). Every problem is an opportunity to see God work. Never waste a crisis! Nehemiah did not ignore the situation. Living in the palace, eating fine dining, did not cause him to be blind to the needs of others. Our position must not cause us to be blind to the real world of hurting people. Find a need and meet it. Look around to see and ask, “What can I do to help?”
Another great question to ask is, “How are things in my homeland?” Our position should also never cause us to be blind to the needs in our own homes. Nehemiah had never seen Jerusalem. He was born in Babylon. How are things in your home? How are things in your personal and private life? Are the walls broken down? What are you going to do about it today?
How do you handle bad news? Eleven times Nehemiah got alone with God. We read, “So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4).
His prayer included confession- “Both my father’s house and I have sinned” (Neh. 1:6). In the Bible, we read that God uses messed up, wacked up, broken people to accomplish His work. The job was too big for Nehemiah. The job is too big for any one of us, but the job is not too big for God. Good leaders recognize this and spend quality time alone with God in prayer.
Nehemiah ends his prayer saying, “Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man” (Neh. 1:10-11). Nehemiah knew his strength and power came from the Lord. There is no place for half-hearted, lazy mediocrity in ministry or leadership. The Lord is our source!
God used Nehemiah to build a wall, but God used a wall to build Nehemiah. God is using you to build a ministry, but God is using that ministry to build you. As you interact with people and encounter problems, go to God in prayer, seek His power, and there is no limit to what you can accomplish!