Rev. E. Anderson
LEADERSHIP – Charles Swindoll
I blew the dust off Nehemiah’s journal last week. It had bee-while since I had taken time to get reacquainted with the man. Sc sat down and looked over his shoulder for a couple of hours, refreshing my mind on the things he recorded during a critical segment t his life.Jerusalem’s protective wall had been destroyed when Babylonians sacked the city and defeated the Jews. Because of this,Zionlay in ruins and there seemed to be no possibility of recovery. At decades slowly passed, a tiny glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon: someday—some glorious day—those homesick Jews would indeed be able to return.
Before they could enjoy living securely in their belovedJerusalemhowever, that wall would have to be rebuilt. That’s where Nehemiah enters the picture. Even though he lived inPersiaand worked in the king’s palace, he became increasingly convinced that he should lead that wall-rebuilding project.
The rest is history. Once the fellow got toJerusalem, he rallied informed, motivated, and organised the people; then he rolled up his sleeves and dived in. Fifty-two days later, they washed off their trowels, stowed their gear, and walked away from a newly finished stone! wall, including new gates hanging on iron hinges. They left all their enemies silenced and locked out… finally.
As I reread this account, it began to dawn on me that this book is! a veritable storehouse of insights on leadership. The first six chapters*] if not the entire book, qualify as Leadership 101 in God’s curriculum and should be required reading for all who are in leadership or wish] to be. I have found no less than seven qualities Nehemiah exhibited! as a leader.
First, he had a passion for the project. Whatever the project may be—rebuilding a wall or providing leadership for a school, chairing board or pastoring a church, organising a ministry or putting together a musical—passion, vision, enthusiasm, drive, and determination are absolutely essential. Nehemiah could hardly sleep as he pictured the need and imagined himself involved in the process of accomplishing the objective.
Second, he had the ability to motivate others. Without people, wf needs leaders? And what good is leadership if it cannot move people to action? Leaders like Nehemiah inspire others to do their best
Third, he had an unswerving confidence in God. Leaders who ate genuinely Christian in their philosophy or style are people of prayer. While they may occasionally doubt their own ability, they do not doubt God’s invincible commitment to His work. Nehemiah’s journal is filled with prayers—silent ones, short ones, specific ones. He constantly reminded the people of the Lord’s presence and protection.
Fourth, he was resilient and patient through opposition. From the first day when they started to mix the mortar, until the final day when the last gate was hung, critics stayed near . . . and vocal. Nehemiah endured it all—sarcasm, suspicion, gossip, mockery, threats, false accusations—you name it. None of these things moved him. He heard what was said but refused to let it sidetrack him. The best leaders have broad shoulders and have no trouble shrugging off petty offences.
Fifth, he had a practical, balanced grip on reality. Nehemiah was no airheaded cheerleader: ‘You see the bad situation we are in/ he said in his opening speech to the people (2:17). He had the workers stay at the job with diligence, but he also stationed others, in shifts, to guard the wall from attack. He acted without overreacting; he was gracious but unbendingly firm. Good leaders maintain that needed balance between being positive and being aware of the negative. Their heads may soar in the heavenlies, but their feet stay firmly fixed on earth’s dirt.
Sixth, he had a willingness to work hard and remain unselfish. All strong Christian leaders have at least one thing in common: diligence. They know the time, but they don’t watch the clock. Diligence mixed with excellence pays off, as it did with Nehemiah who was ‘appointed to be their governor in theland ofJudah’ even before the wall was done (5:14). The balance of that fifth chapter also reveals that he accepted the promotion humbly and willingly sacrificed for the good of the people. Nehemiah is a pattern of servant-hearted leadership.
Seventh, he had the discipline to finish the job. Good leaders are finishers. When the task loses its lustre, they don’t rush elsewhere. They stay at it ‘in season and out’. As Nehemiah recorded, ‘So the wall was completed—in fifty-two days’ (6:15).Mission accomplished!
Good leaders see things through with dispatch. And when the task is finished, they celebrate! Nehemiah and his co-workers marched and danced, they shouted and sang until their ‘songs of praise and thanksgiving to God’ could be heard afar. What a grand party? I love it!