We have a leadership crisis in our culture today. Many churches are suffering because of a lack of real spiritual leadership, and are compromising their standards for the sake of expediency. Businesses fail because of poor decisions by top executives. Homes are hurting as a result of lousy leadership. Men don’t know how to lead, and women sometimes won’t let them if they try. It’s time to get back to the Biblical principles of leadership. The book of Nehemiah outlines the qualities and skills necessary for effective leadership. Consider:
FIRST of all, a good leader knows how to assess the problem. (2:12-15) When Nehemiah is granted permission to return to his homeland, the first thing he does is survey the scene. He has not, as yet, discussed his vision with anyone else. But he gets up in the middle of the night, and rides on horseback around the perimeter of the broken-down city walls. Here we see a man who knows how to evaluate the need. All building projects begin with seeing the need. Often people come in for marriage counseling and want to rebuild their relationship, but are not willing to face up to the damage—the seriousness of their problems! It is the same way with salvation. Unless a person is able to see their need (the sinful shambles of their life) they’re not going to accept Christ as Savior. Every nurse, in training, is taught the value of making good assessments. You can’t have a cure if you don’t know what the problem is. Sadly, a lot of men do not even see the problems in their own homes, in their marriage, or with their children. They are not good leaders because they do not see the need.
SECOND, a good leader knows how to activate the people. (2:17-20) He is a motivator, and inspires others to action. Observe Nehemiah’s rally cry in verses 17-20. First he talks to God, then he talks to the people. What a great formula for all those in Christian leadership roles. Nehemiah had the gift of an “exhorter”, or an encourager. He displayed the ability to inspire others to get involved. Notice how he laid out the challenge, and gave them a cause: “You see the distress we are in.” Actually they didn’t until he pointed it out to them. “Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.” (2:17) In other words, this deplorable condition is a bad testimony for our God—it is a shameful reproach on His name! Anything we attempt to do must be “for His glory”, first and foremost. In Bible times, a city wall was a necessary and strategic part of military defense. That is why Nehemiah said “fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (4:14) It is a powerful leader indeed who can inspire others to FIGHT for an honorable cause. In summary, Nehemiah gave the people two powerful, practical reasons why the wall needed to be constructed: God's glory and their family's safety.