LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES FROM NEHEMIAH
Nehemiah, 2003, 2006; Prov 11:14, Fall 2013
A fact of interests regarding leadership or authority, is that the Bible more often commands from the perspective of the bottom looking up; thereby, instructing us to have Authority Orientation as one of the Problem Solving Devices. There are more commands for the subordinate to respect the authority above them than there are commands for the one in authority regarding their subordinates, cf. Rom 13:1-14; Eph 5:22-33; 6:1-9; Col 3:18-25; 4:1; 1 Tim 5:1-25; 6:1-2: Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:13-21; :3:1-7.
As for Leadership, the Bible does give clear instruction and several examples for us to follow. Nehemiah is one of those examples that we will note in some detail. But first there are some general principles regarding leadership to note, including:
- The existence of any organized group demands the existence of leadership. Likewise, the existence of authority demands the function of leadership, and the possession of authority carries the responsibility of leadership.
- Many categories of life depend on and demand leadership capability rather than mere managerial function. The principle of authority demands more than management; it demands the existence of leadership for the proper function of that authority.
a.) Categories of life that demand leadership include: marriage, the family, government, the military, professional organizations, business organizations, academic institutions, athletic organizations, and Christian organizations.
b.) Authority in the family demands parental leadership. Authority in marriage demands the leadership of the husband. Authority in the military, business, government, the church, and other organizations demands the exercise of leadership by those put in charge.
- Historical events produce a need, and only leadership can meet that need. Circumstances produce a market and leadership supplies that market. Life is a marketplace for leadership, and crisis sets the stage for leadership.
- Leadership is the authority, ability, and capacity to direct, guide, lead, motivate, and control in any organization where legitimate authority exists. The purpose of leadership is to enforce, execute, and motivate policy, purpose, and the objectives of any legitimate organization.
- Leadership is the responsibility of authority. However, being in a position of authority does not mean or imply that the person has leadership skills.
- Every believer has leadership responsibility, because every believer is a Royal Priest and a Royal Ambassador and has the authority and responsibility to worship God and disseminate His Word to a lost and dying world. Therefore, every believer must learn leadership skills in order to effectually execute God’s Plan.
Nehemiah, a Role Model for Leadership.
Scripture presents numerous role models for leadership. Few, however, are as fully developed as the example of Nehemiah as he was given the authority to lead the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem in 445 B.C. Under authority from King Artaxerxes I, King of Persia (464-423 B.C.) in the month of Chislev = (Nov. – Dec.) of the year 445 B.C. Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, beginning with its broken-down wall. As we read this account in the book of Nehemiah, we find numerous principles of effective leadership, including the following:
- Leaders Have a Sense of Mission, Neh 1:3-11.
Before He began his journey a marketplace and crisis (a need) was presented to him. Almost by definition, leaders have some end to which they are headed. It is this sense of mission that helps guide their decisions and determine their strategy.
With Nehemiah’s sense of mission, he applied the Faith Rest Drill, and before he launched into action, he separated himself from the pull of the sin nature and cosmic system, through rebound and recovery in vs. 6.
a.) He recalled the Word of God (claiming promises) and applied faith rest to the situation, vs. 8-9.
b.) He formed a doctrinal rationale in vs. 10.
c.) He petitioned the Father in prayer for guidance and protection and trusted in Him, vs. 11.
Nehemiah’s mission grew out of his knowledge of the Law and his awareness that the destruction of Jerusalem had come about through God’s judgment of his people’s sins, vs.5-8. At the same time, he knew that God was willing to forgive their sins and restore them to the land vs. 9.
Therefore, Nehemiah was determined to rebuild Jerusalem in accordance with the Lord’s promises, and he began to devise a strategy toward that end, vs. 10-11. It is important to note that Nehemiah did not dream up a sense of mission out of his own agenda or self-interest. He responded to the news of Jerusalem’s plight with tears, prayer, fasting, humility, (Body, Soul, and Spirit) and sought the Lord’s will, vs. 4.
Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30, “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
As he prepared to go before the king, he probably did not know exactly what he should say or do, only that he needed to go to Jerusalem. Nor could he have known all that he would encounter once he arrived at the ruined city. Nevertheless, convinced that God wanted the Holy City to be revived, Nehemiah stepped forward as a leader, and his leadership proved strategic.
For those of us who find ourselves having the awesome privilege and responsibility of being called into positions of leadership, we need to be sure that we have “identified the overarching mission” to which we are committed, and know that it is something you believe God wants you to accomplish.
- Leaders Leverage Their Power and Resources, Neh 2:5-10.
Management has been defined as the ability to get things done through other people. However, that can happen only if the people involved are in a position to get things done. Therefore, as leaders, we must use their influence to get people of means to participate with them in their efforts. God has placed you where you are for a reason, so understanding that is part of having a Personal Sense of Destiny.
Phil 4:19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Nehemiah followed this principle in his plan to rebuild Jerusalem. He was in a key position of influence as the cupbearer to the king, Neh 1:11. He had the king’s ear, and he leveraged his proximity to power for the advantage of his people.
Principles of Leveraging Power and Resources:
- Leaders give succinct answers with forethought, vs. 6
- Leaders are not ashamed to be under the leadership of others. Applying humility is an important part of being a leader. Arrogance is a hindrance, not help to leadership.
Rom 12:3-5 “Stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think, but think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion as God has assigned to each one of us a standard of thinking from doctrine. For just as we have many members in one body and all members do not have the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.”
- Leaders are not embarrassed to ask for help when they do not have the means they need to accomplish a task. This is applying humility!
Rom 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
As a result of Nehemiah leveraging his resources, he requested and was granted a leave of absence, Neh 2:5-6, letters of reference, Neh 2:7, and a government grant for building materials, Neh 2:8.
The ability to leverage resources is an indispensable requirement of leadership. There are plenty of resources to help. A wise and disciplined leader identifies and utilizes the resources around him, versus resisting or resenting those with means, thereby alienating himself and those he leads from vital resources that could help accomplish the goal. Use the means available to you that have been given by God.
- Leaders Conduct Research, Neh 2:11-16.
Before a plan or idea is communicated, leaders assess the needs and situation and then formulate a plan. Any good plan is flexible enough to change as new situations or information arise. A missile without a guidance system is a dangerous thing: all power and no direction. In the same way, leaders who do not know where they are going can wreck havoc. That is why it pays for people in leadership positions to gather the right kind of information, so that they can make wise choices about which path to pursue.
Before he launched his plan to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem, Nehemiah conducted careful research about the task at hand. He quietly walked the city by night without fanfare, surveying the extent of the problem and formulated some tentative strategies to rebuild the wall, Neh 2:11-15.
a.) This tells us that leaders should keep a low profile when not in service and then perform their leadership role only when needed. Yet, arrogant, self-righteous leaders feel they need to create a lot of fan fare to get the job done.
Luke 11:43, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places.”
Nehemiah’s low profile, was especially appropriate, given that he was a new member of the community. As a representative of the king, he could have come in with trumpets blaring and declared what his expectations were. Instead, he kept his thoughts to himself and avoided attracting attention to himself until he had formulated a plan.
b.) Leaders make informed decisions based on reality. If you are in a position of leadership, take pains to gather the kind of information you need to make wise choices and decisions. Make decisions that are informed and based on reality, and do not assume that the power of your position alone is all that is required to bring about the results you seek.
c.) Patience is key to successful leadership, Col 3:12-17.
Col 3:12-17, “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other. 14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. 16Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
- Leaders do not Take on the Problem Alone, Neh 2:17-18.
a.) Instead of going it alone, leaders will build unity of mission with those around them. Yet, they have to remember that there has to be a fine line between leader and workers to maintain order and integrity. And, it does not mean that leadership should bully those under your authority.
History shows that most of the greatest achievements have been accomplished by teams and groups of people working together toward common goals and ends. Nehemiah understood the power of the team as he undertook the task of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall. So, after surveying the situation, he gathered the people and gave a speech in which he mobilized the team around the rebuilding project.
b.) Leaders need to raise the awareness that something should be done and then instill confidence in others that something can be done, by the team.
c.) Leaders think and speak in terms of “we” and “us.”
Clearly, Nehemiah saw himself as a participant in the dire circumstances, even though he had just arrived from the royal palace. In fact, he bridged the class division between himself and his people by sharing the discussion he had had with the king, thereby showing them that they had a friend in the emperor’s court.
d.) Those in leadership positions, have to learn how to break down walls that divide and are a hindrance to the building up of a team. Simple things like addressing individuals by name, involving people right where they live, respecting their limitations, and taking personal interest in their circumstances leads to overcoming barriers.
e.) Leaders cannot become too socially involved with those under their command. There are certain social events which are wonderful and legitimate. But to become “buddy-buddy” with those under your command, or to over socialize, means that when you have to make a decision; whereby, that man will have to be sacrificed as a part of a greater plan, you cannot do it. You will not be able to make an objective decision, and in that scenario, you should not be a leader.
f.) Leadership can be neutralized and destroyed by over involvement with those under your command. Over involvement should be confined to your peers within the framework of your organization. When you erase the line between the leader and followers, you also destroy respect. And if there is no leadership, the followers are self-destructive.
Neh 2:18 (KJV), “So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”
The word “good” in the Septuagint is AGATHON. In the Greek, AGATHON means, “good of intrinsic value,” which means good works that are rewardable in heaven.
Tacitus (a Roman historian in the late first and early second century AD) said, “An army of stags is more to be feared, under the command of a lion, than an army of lions led by a stag.”
g.) Leaders are able to assign tasks objectively, without bias. Neh 3:1-32, and keep the assignment as the responsibility of the assignee rather than taking it back and doing it themselves. This means they keep the monkey on the back of those it is assigned to and do not take it back. Once they assign a task, they leave the task (monkey) with those it was assigned to. And as you know, many workers try to give the monkey back to the leader, but the leader must not take it back and instead work with the worker(s) to solve the problem.
h.) Leaders are able to stir up a sense of mission among those around them, Heb 10:24-25; 2 Peter 1:13. The Leader knows how to stimulate and stir up others, keeping them together to accomplish the mission, Neh 2:17-18; 4:14; 5:7-13. Both of these (stirring up and keeping together) require initiative on the part of the leader and on the part of the participant.
For example: The true test of living the spiritual life occurs when we come up against injustice, degradation, ingratitude, and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritually lazy. We tend to retreat to a comfort zone and seek God for comfort only and distance ourselves from people and the world, Neh 5:1-5. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught, Mat 10:7; Mark 3:14; 16:15. While being tested, we want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of finding a quiet retreat. We use God only for the sake of getting peace and joy. We seek only our enjoyment of Jesus Christ, not a true realization of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things we are seeking are simply effects, and yet we try to make them causes. That is why Peter said “Yes, I think it is right, to stir you up by reminding you …”, 2 Peter 1:13. It is disturbing when God uses a leader to hit you between the eyes to stir you up, but that is a leader who is full of the spiritual life. The real danger in spiritual laziness is that you do not want to be stirred up. All you want to hear about is a spiritual retreat, retirement, from the world. Yet, our Lord Jesus Christ never encouraged the idea of retirement. He says, “Go and tell My brethren …”, Mat 28:10, cf. Rom 12:2; Phil 3:20; Eph 2:12, 19; 1 John 2:15-16. So, to be stirred up is taking the first step toward Christ-realization (Resurrection life), not self-realization.
- Leaders Adapt to Adversity, Neh 2:9, 19-20; 4:1-3,7-9; 6:1-19; 7:1-4.
a.) Many people run from adversity; wise leaders cheerfully expect it. Wherever change and progress are underway, competing interests inevitably rise to challenge them. At that point, leaders must decide whether they will accept the challenge and meet it, or turn tail and let their opponents set the agenda.
Nehemiah’s adversaries were a group of Jews from racially mixed backgrounds and Gentiles who had a vested interest in seeing Jerusalem remain unprotected, Neh 4:7. During the 70-years of Judah’s exile, they had established dominance over those left behind. Therefore, Nehemiah’s plan to rebuild the walls and revitalize the city threatened to end their monopoly on control. Nehemiah responded to their opposition with resolute faith and prayer and measured resistance. Compare with Eph 6:10-18.
Remember that Jerusalem represents our soul and spirit, and those outside the walls represent the cosmic system.
Eph 6:18, “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
Rather than escalate a touchy situation, he defended against their attack and kept on working. Rather than reacting and escalating the situation, leaders fortify their situation and continue moving forward.
From Nehemiah’s example, we see a general principle of work assignment, in that 50% of the workers should be focused on new / future product development, while 50% should be focused on maintaining current products. And all should be prepared to protect current products if a crisis arises, Neh 4:12-23.
Thus, he adapted to the adversity rather than run from it or over react to it.
If you are in a position of leadership, how do you respond to opposition and adversity? From Nehemiah’s example, we see that a bend but do not break attitude is appropriate, applying flexibility strengthened by your faith and confidence that God will see you through. Likewise, you should respond to the opposition in appropriate ways, taking practical steps to ensure that the task goes forward, even as others try to shut it down.
Col 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
b.) Adversity not only comes from the outside, it comes from within too. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem represent the cosmic system, which tries to influence our soul (Jerusalem) away from the mission at hand. In Chapter 5, we have the example of inward pressures and struggles that wear on a leader’s soul, trying to sidetrack him form the mission to sooth the perceived wants, desires, and needs as tempted by the Old Sin Nature, Neh 5:1-5. Just as we have outward pressures on our soul trying to cause us to sin, inside pressures and temptations from the Old Sin Nature (O.S.N.) try to cause us to sin. Satan uses both tactics to try to stop us from advancing in the plan of God.
Yet, Nehemiah’s response to the inward pressures was to remind the team what the real issue was, who the real enemy is, and what the Word of God has to say about both, (that is the purpose of the 11 Problem Solving Devices). He then encouraged them to apply doctrinal principles to the situation to solve their problems, i.e., “get back to basics”, Neh 5:6-13. Usury and slavery (Ex 21:1-6; 22:25-24; Lev 25:35-46; Deut 24:10-13).
c.) Preparation is the key for adapting in adverse situations, Rom 5:1-5; 2 Peter 1:5-11. It includes spiritual preparation, Neh 4:8-9 and organization preparation, (i.e., military), Neh 4:13-23.
Prov 11:14b, “by an abundance of counselors there is victory (success / deliverance).”
Prov 20:18, “Prepare plans by consultation, and make war by wise guidance.”
And remember that God rewards our perseverance, as He eventually rewarded Nehemiah’s with the completion of the wall in a mere 52 days, Neh 6:15. The call for perseverance is also found in Luke 8:15; Rom 8:25; 15:4-5; Rev 2:2, Ephesus; Rev 2:19, Thyatria; and Rev 3:10 Philadelphia.
Luker 8:15 “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
Rom 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”
- Leaders Resist Underhanded Politics, Neh 6:5-9.
Beginning in Neh 6:4, (“Four times” – 4 is the number of creative work, material completeness, and is the world and city number representing the cosmic system), Sanballat and friends are getting creative in their attempt to frustrate the work in Jerusalem. Having failed to intimidate Nehemiah into stopping the work of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, Sanballat and his cronies tried smear tactics to shut the project down, Neh 6:5-7.
a.) Frustrated opponents often resort to slander and maligning when other methods have proven useless. Therefore, leaders should easily dismiss their actions, vs. 8, and do not react hastily.
As such, Nehemiah did not even attempt to prevent his enemies from sending letters to the king. He was a leader with confidence. He trusted in God up to this point and saw the graciousness of God “work all things together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”, Rom 8:28. He applied the doctrinal rationale that if God had brought him this far and the people remained faithful to God, that God would not allow their efforts to be nullified at this point. He had a clear conscience and an impeccable reputation. Therefore, no amount of “mud slinging” could cause him to lose heart. He knew that none of it would stick
It is worth noting that Nehemiah did not resort to “slinging mud” himself. He probably could have come up with plenty of counter-accusations against his adversaries. But rather than waste time on a verbal exchange that would have distracted him from the wall, he prayed, trusted in God, and ignored the politics swirling outside the city walls. Therefore, if you are in a position of leadership, you should resist the dirty tricks of your opponents.
As a leader, you must maintain your integrity, so that there can be no ground for accusation against you. You need to resist the temptation to “fight fire with fire” by resorting to political games and dirty tricks yourself. Leaders do not resort to this type of action, Deut 23:9; Phil 2:14-15.
Deut 23:9, “When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.”
Phil 2:14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Cf. 1 Tim 5:7
Likewise, Pastor leaders are not to get involved in backhanded tactics, 1 Tim 3:2-3; Titus 1:6-7.
At the end of Chapter 6, we have the last of eight adversities or oppositions that Nehemiah faced as a leader. Seven of the oppositions occurred prior to the walls being completed and one after the completion of the walls. This again is no coincidence, as we delve deeper into the Word of God.
Seven is the number of spiritual perfection, completeness, and rest while eight is the number of superabundance. In Hebrew, the number eight is sh’ moneh from the root shah’meyn, “to make fat,” “cover with fat,” “to super abound.” As a participle, it means, “one who abounds in strength,” etc. As a noun, it is “superabundant fertility,” “oil,” etc. As seven was so called, because the seventh day was the day of completion and rest, so eight, as the eighth day, was over and above this perfect completion, and was indeed the first of a new series, as well as being the eighth. Thus, it already represents two numbers in one, the first and eighth. It is seven plus one. Hence it is the number specially associated with Resurrection and Regeneration, and the beginning of a new era or order. Regeneration is signified by Noah, the eighth person, 2 Pet 2:5, who stepped out on the new earth to commence a new order of things. Eight souls, 1 Pet 3:20, passed through it with him to the new or regenerated world. Similar to Nehemiah’s account, seven and eight are joined in several interesting places, all having similar meaning.
1) The Feast of the Tabernacles was the only feast kept eight days. Signifying the rest of the millennial reign, culminating with eternity future. Lev 23:39, 34-36; Num 29:39; Neh 8:9-18.
2) There are eight sentences describing the vineyard, in Isa 5:1-2, but seven give the characteristics, and one the result.
3) The Lord Jesus was on a mountain eight times, (excluding the scene of temptation). Seven times were before the cross, but the eighth time was after He rose from the dead. Mat 28:16-20
4) Abraham had eight sons, but seven were “born after the flesh,” while one, the eighth, was “by promise.” Gal 3:18
5) The consecration of Aaron and His sons was on the eighth day, after abiding “at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation day and night seven days”, Lev. 8:35 – 9:6
So, as Nehemiah had to weather adversities and political back-biting, we too will face similar situations as leader Priests and Ambassadors. God shows us through His Word to take solace in the fact that it is for our benefit and that He will lead and guide us through the difficulties in the confidence of eternal rest, Psa 62:5-8.
Leadership must confront “Jerichos” and “Goliaths.” Why? Because of a principle that the Lord Jesus Christ revealed when He was dealing with Adam and the Woman, in Grace WITHOUT CONFRONTATION, THERE IS NO RESOLUTION., Gen 3:9. Jerichos keep popping up; Goliaths keep coming, and the Floods keep moving. We are confronted by evil at all times; therefore, be sober. Other examples: The Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to confront Cain before he murdered his brother Able. Cain chose to rebel and ended up becoming the first human murderer in scripture. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to confront Paul (he was then Saul), and gave him the opportunity of a lifetime. Paul accepted God’s grace, and the rest is history. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself had to confront the woman at the well. He gave her the opportunity of a lifetime. She accepted God’s grace, and became a new creation. The point? WITHOUT CONFRONTATION, THERE IS NOT RESOLUTION!!
The church, according to the Word of God (Rev.3:1-6, Sardis) needs to be “reformed,” hearts must be changed, behavior must be changed. True reform comes by RENOVATING OUR THOUGHT, yielding to the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit, Rom 12:2.
Leadership learns the great lesson of humility: to take offenses and still demonstrate virtue-love to the offenders. Leadership learns the following principle and keeps giving virtue love.
2 Cor 12:15, “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; even though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.”
- Leaders Serve People, Neh 7:1-2, 5; 5:18; 11:1-2.
a.) Some people regard leadership primarily as the art of getting results. Great leaders, they say, are those who get the job done. It matters very little how they operate, as long as they achieve their goals. Leadership is not just the art of getting results, where it does not matter how the results are achieved as long as they are achieved. Leaders must do a right thing in a right way. When we examine the great leaders of Scripture, we find that they not only accomplished much, but they served people in the process, Mat 20:28; Mark 8:6; Gal 5:13-14; 1 Peter 5:1-5.
Mat 20:28 “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
1) Noah built an ark to save mankind. Gen 5-9
Gen 5:29, “Now he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.”
2) Joshua led an army to establish a nation, the book of Joshua.
3) Joseph stored grain to save many nations during famine, Gen 41-42.
4) Jonah witnessed naked to save a people he hated, the book of Jonah.
5) Paul suffered great hardship and persecution to start the church, the book of Acts.
Leaders must remember that Jesus Christ controls history, Deut 33:26, He allowed you to be in the position you are in. Col 1:16-17, tells us that Jesus Christ not only created the universe, but holds it together and preserves it. Heb 1:3, Jesus Christ holds the universe together by the word of His power. Heb 1:10 tells us that He created the universe. He allowed you to be in the position you are in. Ultimately, your position is to serve God, Col 3:24; 2 Tim 1:3; Heb 9:14, by serving others. Nehemiah illustrates this point rather well. His project of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem was never an end in itself. The ultimate objective was to revitalize the people of Israel and return them to their covenant relationship with God, Neh 11:1-2; w/ 1:1-11. To that end, after the wall was completed, Nehemiah turned the city’s management over to local government leaders, Neh 7:1-7. He did not create dependency on his own skills, nor did he use the project to gain wealth or fame for himself, Neh 5:18.
b) Great Leaders do not create dependency on their own skills, nor use projects to gain wealth or fame for themselves, Neh 5:18. Instead, right from the start, Nehemiah began the process of turning over management of Jerusalem to others. Great Leaders, right from the start, begin the process of training others for future leadership positions. Nehemiah also helped the people trace their roots by reviewing the census taken several years earlier in Ezra’s time, Neh 7:5; and see Ezra 2:68.
c) Leaders also instill a sense of worth, value, and meaning to those they serve. Neh 7:5 w/ Ezra 2:68. That sets the stage for repopulating the city, Neh 11:1-2, and continued the initiative of revitalization. See Neh 1:1-11 for the goals of the project, service for God, and the people. When others have a sense of value in themselves by seeing the love of God, they are revitalized to do great things, Neh 6:15
d) All of our service should be done with a view to the New Life you have in Christ, Rom 7:6.
Rom 7:6, “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”
e) Laser focus on your mission is required for proper service to occur. Too much variance dilutes effective Leadership, Mat 6:2, Luke 16:13.
Leaders ask yourselves:
As a person of leadership, what is your posture toward the people you lead?
Are you concerned about the task alone, or do you see people as the ultimate beneficiaries?
How can you serve those who work with you, over you, or for you, so that they gain from the process even as they carry out the work?
- Leaders Celebrate Often, Neh 8:1-12; 9:1-3; 12:27-47: 13:1-4.
Effective leaders appreciate the value of celebrating the great things that God has done in and through their organization. When the task is completed, when results have been achieved, when people have been served, then it is appropriate to take time to celebrate. That is what Nehemiah did when the people completed the rebuilding of the wall, Neh 8:1, 10. (Note that as the people came to celebrate, they came as one-unit versus many different individuals, Phil 2:2; cf. 1 Cor 11:17-26.
Nehemiah had Ezra read from the Law to begin the celebration, which was the motivation for Nehemiah’s mission in the first place. He went back over the vision and mission statement for the people of Israel; therefore, leaders go back over the vision and mission statement so the people can see their accomplishments.
The words brought about a godly sorrow, Neh 8:4-8; 9:1-3, when they realized what they had been missing out on, and the fact of realizing God’s love for them. This was not to be a time of sorrow but of joy. Remembering lost opportunity can bring about sorrow. But God tells us not to fret about the past. Take joy in what the future holds, Neh. 8:10-12; Phil 3:13.
Phil 3:13, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
So, we see the celebration with heartfelt praise, choice food, and even an “amen” chorus, Neh 8:6. The community rejoiced in the Lord for the work it had accomplished. But first, they had to separate themselves from sin in order to truly worship the Lord, Neh 9:2; 10:2; 13:1-4, just as we need to rebound, 1 John 1:9, before we can truly worship and celebrate in the Lord.
Note that for the celebration, Nehemiah instructed them to “share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared,” Neh 8:10. In other words, bring the poor to the party too! Share the wealth. No one should be deprived of joy just because they cannot afford even a small party, 1 Cor 11:17; 13:3.
1 Cor 13:3, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
If you are in a leadership position, know how to celebrate your group’s milestones. In the end, celebration can be a way of worshiping the Lord, because He is the source of all good gifts, so we can praise Him for giving us a ministry and the means to accomplish it.
Finally, we see more coded messages from our Lord in Neh 8 as the celebration begins.
Celebration Code from our Lord in Nehemiah 8
A little reminder as to where all grace and blessings are from.
Neh 8:4, “Ezra (Yahweh helps) the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, (Gift of Jehovah), Shema, (hear, report, rumor, fame), Anaiah, (Yahweh answered), Uriah, (Jehovah is light), Hilkiah, (Portion of Jehovah), and Maaseiah (work of Jehovah), on his right hand; and Pedaiah, (Redemption of the Lord), Mishael, (who is like God), Malchijah, (Jehovah is King), Hashum, (flat-nosed = Believers), Hashbaddanah, (unknown, a blank space or pause), Zechariah (Jehovah is renowned or remembered), and Meshullam (repaid, replacement, befriended) on his left hand.”
“The Lord (Jesus Christ) is a helper. His gifts are the answer to those He hears (with prayers from believers in view). He is the Light of the world, part of the Trinity of God. His work leads to redemption for all. Who is like Him, He is the King of those who believe, (pause for reflection). Remember Him who stood in your place as your friend.”
Neh 8:7, “Also Jeshua, (Yahweh is salvation.), Bani, (built), Sherebiah, (“Yah gave a new generation,” “Yah understands,” or “Yah made it hot.”), Jamin, (right hand), Akkub, (protector,” or “protected one, pursuer), Shabbethai, (belonging to the sabbath, sabbath born), Hodiah, (majesty of Jehovah), Maaseiah, (work of Jehovah), Kelita, (crippled, dwarfed one,” but perhaps also meaning, “adopted one” = gentiles), Azariah, (helped by Jehovah), Jozabad, (Yah gave), Hanan, (gracious, merciful), Pelaiah, (Yahweh is wonderful (or performs wonders), distinguish of the Lord), and the Levites, (priests, lowest level, = believers) explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place.”
“Salvation is in the Lord (Jesus Christ). He built a new fervent people. He is the one (seated) at the right hand (of God), the protector (from our accuser), we belong to His rest because of His majesty. The Lord’s work is for those who are lame, weak and small. His grace and mercy helps them. The Lord performs wonders for the believer.”
Thanksgiving Celebration Code for the Forgiveness of Sin, Neh 9
Neh 9:4, “ Now on the Levites’ (believer Priests) platform stood Jeshua, (Yahweh is salvation.), Bani, (built), Kadmiel, (God goes before), Shebaniah, (Yahweh came near, perhaps, Jehovah has brought back or returned, Whom Jehovah hides, or has made grow up), Bunni, (built), Sherebiah, (Yah gave a new generation, Yah understands, or Yah made it hot, Jehovah has sent scorching heat, Flame of the Lord) Bani (built) and Chenani, (established), and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.”
“Believer Priests say the Lord is salvation. Those whom He has made and brought near He goes before (leads). He has made a new zealous generation. He made and established them.”
Neh 9:5, “Then the Levites, (believer priests), Jeshua, (Lord is salavation), Kadmiel, (God goes before), Bani, (built), Hashabneiah, (Yahweh has imputed to me, taken account of), Sherebiah, (Yah gave a new generation,” “Yah understands,” or “Yah made it hot.”, Jehovah has sent scorching heat, Flame of the Lord), Hodiah, (majesty of Jehovah), Shebaniah, (Yahweh came near, perhaps, Jehovah has brought back or returned, Whom Jehovah hides, or has made grow up), and Pethahiah, (the Lord opens or loosed), said, “Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever!”
“Believer Priests say, the Lord is salvation. He goes before (leads) those whom He has made. He has given us a new zealous generation. The Majesty of the Lord has brought us near to Him. He has freed us.”
The Celebration Parade Code, Neh 12
Neh 12:32-37, “Hoshaiah (Lord has saved), and half of the leaders of Judah (praise) followed them, 33with Azariah, (the Lord has helped), Ezra, (The Lord helps) Meshullam, (repaid, replacement, befriended), 34Judah, (praise), Benjamin, (son at the right hand) Shemaiah, (Jehovah has heard), Jeremiah, (Jehovah will lift up, exalt, will raise up) 35and some of the sons of the priests with trumpets; and Zechariah (Jehovah remembers) the son of Jonathan, (Lord has given, gave), the son of Shemaiah, (the Lord has heard), the son of Mattaniah, (gift of the Lord), the son of Micaiah, (Who is like the Lord), the son of Zaccur, (remembered, mindful) the son of Asaph, (convener, collector), 36and his kinsmen, Shemaiah, (the Lord has heard), Azarel, (God has helped), Milalai, (eloquent), Gilalai, (the Lord has rolled away), Maai, (??, a blank, pause), Nethanel, (given of God), Judah (praise) and Hanani, (my grace, gracious), with the musical instruments of David (beloved), the man of God. And Ezra (the Lord helps), the scribe went before them. 37At the Fountain Gate they went directly up the steps of the city of David by the stairway of the wall above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.”
“Praise the Lord for He has saved (many). (By dying) in our place the Lord has helped and continues to help (the sinner). Praise the son at the right hand (of the Father). The Lord will lift up the priest (believer) whom He has heard (call out to Him). The Lord remembers them and has given to those He has heard the gift (of salvation). Who is like the Lord, remember Him. He gathers the ones He has heard and helped the eloquent (those with knowledge of Him). He rolled away (sin), (pause), for those given to Him. Praise His graciousness, the beloved (Jesus Christ), for He does help (save).”
Neh 12:38-43, “The second choir proceeded to the left, while I followed them with half of the people on the wall, above the Tower of Furnaces, to the Broad Wall, 39and above the Gate of Ephraim, (Double fruitfulness, “for God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction”), by the Old Gate, by the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel (God is gracious) and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate; and they stopped at the Gate of the Guard. 40Then the two choirs took their stand in the house of God. So did I and half of the officials with me; 41and the priests, Eliakim, (God will raise up, establish), Maaseiah, (work of the Lord), Miniamin, (from the right hand, lucky), Micaiah, (who is like the Lord), Elioenai, (Toward Jehovah are my eyes), Zechariah (The Lord remembers is remembered), and Hananiah, (the Lord is gracious has favored, given) with the trumpets; 42and Maaseiah, (work of the Lord), Shemaiah, (the Lord has heard), Eleazar, (God helps), Uzzi, (the Lord is my strength), Jehohanan, (the Lord is gracious), Malchijah, (the Lord is King), Elam (hidden), and Ezer, (treasure, gathering, pile). And the singers sang, with Jezrahiah (the Lord will shine), their leader, 43and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them great joy, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard from afar.
“God will exalt the work of the Lord and (seat him) at His right hand. Who is like the Lord. My eyes are toward (fixed on) the Lord. Remember Him. The Lord is gracious. By His work He helps (saves) those He has heard. The Lord is my strength. He is the gracious King. A hidden treasure. The Lord will shine.”
In Nehemiah’s case:
Vision – Restoration of Israel
Mission – Rebuild the Walls
Strategy – Inspect, Organize, Build, Follow up
Goals and Objectives – Individual work teams with specific, time bound responsibilities.
Accomplishments – Celebration
Characteristics in View:
Basic Concepts of Leadership
- There are basic principles of leadership that apply to believers only.
a.) Leadership does not imply a change in personality but demands a change in character.
b.) Leadership function demands the removal of garbage from the subconscious
- A leader must lead and not follow.
a.) Leadership in management must never adopt the prejudices of employees. This destroys objectivity in dealing with personnel problems.
b.) Leadership in management must give thoughtful consideration to suggestions from those under your command or responsibility.
c.) Leadership in management can take suggestions and advice from staff personnel and others involved, but leadership alone is responsible for all decisions made. Therefore, leadership in management must develop the ability to make good decisions from a position of strength, rather than bad decisions from a position of weakness.
(1) In Christian leadership, this emphasizes the importance of maximum metabolized doctrine in the stream of consciousness, circulated by the filling of the Spirit.
(2) This also emphasizes the removal of garbage in the subconscious of the soul. Garbage in the subconscious neutralizes leadership characteristics and ability.
d.) Leadership in management will not be manipulated by flattery or by a patronizing attitude of ambitious underlings.
(1) For the good of the organization, leadership in management must motivate and encourage labor, or those under his command or responsibility, and must avoid being used by subordinates.
(2) Manipulative underlings, full of inordinate ambition, will often tell you what they assume you want to hear. Hence, by omitting facts and vital information, they become a bad influence on decision making in leadership, so that leadership is neutralized and becomes management.
- Leadership demands flexibility.
a.) Flexibility means adaptability to changing situations.
b.) However, there must be no flexibility in attitude toward Bible doctrine, which must have number one priority in the life. Bible doctrine is essential to Christian leadership in management, for it provides the wisdom for effectiveness in making necessary adjustments to the changing circumstances of life.
c.) Those who fail in flexibility are not even leaders; they are management looking for a job.
d.) Flexibility is not a compromise of Bible doctrine, but the ability to modify and adapt through cognition and application of the problem solving devices of the protocol plan of God.
e.) Every circumstance of life will require adaptability from time to time. You have to be very alert to do this. If you are not flexible in your lifestyle, you will break into a thousand pieces. Legalistic believers and arrogant or emotional type Christians are neither flexible nor adaptable.
f.) Changing circumstances of life demand flexibility in life, in leadership, and adaptability in the policies that leadership is enforcing.
g.) Flexibility in leadership originates from humility. Humility is the ultimate state of flexibility.
- Leadership in Christian management must not be neutralized or destroyed by becoming over‑involved in the personal or social life of the employees.
a.) The smaller the organization, the greater the danger of loss of authority in this area. When socializing means loss of authority, this principle of leadership applies.
b.) This principle does not destroy leadership’s personal concern and continual desire to help those under his command. This means leadership in management demands wisdom in relationship to those under one’s command.
c.) There comes a time when leadership must make wise and independent decisions for the good of the organization. Leadership must not become too dependent on those under his command, so that he loses the habit of thinking independently. A leader must think independently and adopt independent decisions and policies, which makes him a leader in the first place.
- Good leadership in management should be flexible enough to listen to good advice, to recognize good suggestions. This is not in conflict with independent thinking but is a supplement to wisdom. A good leader with self‑esteem never feels threatened by input from others, but he also knows where to cut off input and make his own decisions.
a.) The Christian has the advantage of being totally dependent on the Lord. In being dependent on the Lord and being objective, this objectivity overflows and gives great strength in the function of leadership, so that leadership will be extremely fair. A leader will walk extra miles with a person who is not doing a good job.
b.) One of the most important functions of leadership is to always be very careful of people who make great mistakes in an organization. A person who makes a great mistake and recognizes it is going to learn from that mistake. One of the worst things you can do is fire the person; they will never make that mistake again. It is the people who do not learn from their mistakes that you must fire, because they are inherently arrogant.
c.) Humility in the status of spiritual self‑esteem has the ability for independent thinking. Great leaders do not function under herd‑bound popularity concepts.
d.) Independent thinking and flexibility recognizes good advice and incorporates it in policy and decision making. Taking good advice from subordinates on the one hand, and not being influenced by subordinates on the other hand, appears to be contradictory. On the contrary, it is simply the flexibility of leadership.
e.) Arrogance and power lust in management combine to provide a personality flaw that cancels leadership ability and good managerial function.
(1) Learn to know your limitations and function within them
(2) When you know your limitations, you have contentment, and you are marvelously effective in what you are doing, and appreciated.
(3) Arrogance and power lust destroy even the potential for leadership in management.
- Naivete in leadership.
a.) Naivete is used here in the sense of lack of judgment, lack of experience, lack of information; therefore, the simplicity of stupidity from arrogance and power lust.
b.) Naivete is defined for this study as the blind spot of oversimplification. Something may be objectively observed by others, but it is not apparent to the leader.
c.) There are three sources of naivete in leadership.
(1) Ignorance or rejection of the truth related to the reality of a situation, or ignorance or rejection of the truth in the sense of understanding the true nature of circumstances.
(2) Arrogance as a complex of sins becomes a system of naivete in leadership.
(3) The lust pattern of the sin nature. Motivation from the lust pattern of the sin nature, especially power and approbation lust, crusader lust, lust for revenge, inordinate ambition resulting in inordinate competition. Lust divorces the believer from reality with the following results:
(a) Naivete in leadership and management.
(b) Lust divorces the believer from reality, which produces naivete in leadership.
(c) Lust destroys spiritual self‑esteem and replaces it with inordinate desires incompatible with the protocol plan of God.
(d) Lust destroys capacity for leadership and management.
(e) Lust produces self‑centeredness‑‑the desire for self‑promotion to the exclusion of a sense of responsibility and a concern for those under one’s command.
(f) Lust destroys the believer’s motivation to execute the protocol plan of God.
(g) Lust substitutes the false motivation of arrogant ambition for self‑promotion, instead of the true motivation of glorifying God in the execution of His plan.
(h) Power lust is the main problem in naivete of leadership or management.
(i) Illustrations. Satan, who was so complimented that he became naive and began thinking that he would take God’s place. Paul was naive when he decided to make another trip to Jerusalem, though warned by believers and God the Holy Spirit not to go. Julius Caesar was naive when he refused to have a body guard. Napoleon was naive about the invasion of Spain and the invasion of Russia. Robert E. Lee was naive at the Battle of Gettysburg by not forcing his subordinates to pursue at the end of the first day and by not checking the enemies left flank prior to the attack on the third day. President Wilson was naive when he thought the Congress would support the League of Nations. President F. D. Roosevelt was naive when he thought he could control Stalin
(j) The greater the power of the leader, the greater the sphere of his naivete or blind spot.
- When leadership must supersede management.
a.) When historical events produce a need and leadership meets that need. In historical crisis, management will not work.
b.) Circumstances of life produce a market and leadership supplies the market.
c.) Crisis is a stage for leadership, life is a market for leadership.
d.) Leadership is the basis for effective management; therefore, there are some important distinctions between leadership and management.
Leader’s Insight: Leaders’ Top Three Mistakes
Compare your list with this one.
by Clark Cothern,
The first big mistake I made as a leader was to fail to ask what mistakes I was making.
I was curious what Ron Potter, my friend and the president of Team Leadership Culture, would say are the top three mistakes most leaders make. After all, he has spent the last 12-years of his professional life consulting with top leaders of national and international organizations helping them recognize and correct their mistakes.
- Managing instead of leading.
Ron didn’t even have to think about the first mistake. “Managing has more to do with directing day-to-day tasks; whereas, leading has more to do with casting a vision, goal setting, and motivation,” he said.
When a leader spends more time managing than leading, morale suffers among the troops. Most people would prefer a goal to shoot for and some freedom to figure out how to reach that goal. “We all crave at least a partial sense of control,” Ron said.
In a study several years ago, two teams of leaders were given a difficult problem to solve. The complex problem involved mental gymnastics, difficult decisions, and intense concentration. Both teams participated in the project in a room where distracting sounds were piped in through speakers. The music, noise, and voices were enough to drive you to distraction. Which, of course, was the point.
Team A couldn’t do anything about the distracting sounds. They just had to put up with them. Team B was told that by pushing a button, they could silence the distractions for five minutes. The only catch was that they could only use the button once each hour. Each team was then scored on various phases of their group task.
Not too surprisingly, Team B consistently outscored Team A. The kicker is, Team B never pushed the button. Team B at least thought they had control over their environment. Just knowing that they had a little freedom within their boundaries boosted their confidence level.
When leaders micromanage, they take away that sense of control vital to team dynamics and problem-solving. Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower summed this up when he said, “Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”
- Mistaking individual loyalty for team building.
Have you seen that little desk toy that has several steel balls hanging from a crossbeam, all in a row? If you pull one of the balls away from the others and let it go, when it strikes the row of spheres the one on the opposite end swings away from the rest in direct response to the force of the first ball. It’s called “Newton’s Cradle.”
The next mistake is a bit more subtle and difficult to detect. Ron calls it, “The Newton’s Cradle approach to leadership.”
Let’s say that you are the person at the top of the leadership chain in your organization. You are the crossbeam. Those steel spheres hanging beneath the crossbeam are the people who work closely with you. The plastic connectors are the individual relationships you make with those people.
You, the leader, pull one of your team members away from the others and get him pumped up about a change that needs to be made. That’s like pulling one of the steel balls and holding it there. Then when you let him go, you expect him to return to the rest of the team, where they will all function with superb team dynamics, solving the current problems, achieving team goals, and making changes.
Ron explained what really happens. “The leader lets that team member go, and he just bangs against the other team member closest to him, and that one bangs quickly into the team member next to him, and so on. So, all that really happens is that this one team member bangs into the others, and they swing back and forth, bumping into each other.”
We shouldn’t neglect the individual relationships with those who work closely with us. We also can’t miss the important steps necessary to putting those people together in team situations where they learn what it means to work together.
- Failing to apply what motivates us.
“What motivates you?” Ron asked. “The ability to create? The freedom to apply what you know in order to solve problems? The thrill of a new challenge? Ask most leaders what motivates them and those items will surface. But when we get our jobs down to a science and there are no new challenges, we get bored or lose interest.”
A leader may know what motivates him, but he forgets that the same things motivate those who work for him.
We want our people to be competent so that everything always runs smoothly. But when we lock people into the routine of sameness, we wind up killing their motivation. When we stretch people into new areas of challenges, we know they are going to make mistakes. But when we keep them “safe,” we take the motivational wind out of their sails.
It means we have to risk other people’s failure. It means we have to bite our lips and let some people toddle out into the unknown world. Yet they’ll thank you for allowing them to tackle a new challenge, even if they stumble a few times.
Like a parent who prays harder when the teenager begins to drive, a leader must accept that new challenges are frightening to us but freeing to others.
Hearing this assessment of the top three mistakes leaders make, I recalled my first big mistake in leadership: failure to ask where I was making mistakes.
I need to discover where I am guilty of managing more than leading. I need to build into my leadership training calendar specific times to work on team building. And I need to motivate my leadership team by allowing them to tackle new challenges. Most of all, I need to remain courageous enough to keep asking what mistakes I’m making.