God willing, I’m finishing a sermon series on Nehemiah tomorrow morning. The following is from Warren Wiersbe summarizing the leadership qualities of Nehemiah.
1. He knew he was called of God
Before you quickly move into a place of ministry, be sure God has called you and equipped you for the job. You may not think you can do it, and others may have their doubts; but if God calls you, have no fear: He will see you through.
2. He depended on prayer
The Book of Nehemiah starts and ends with prayer. And in between, Nehemiah oftens sends up quick prayers to heaven and asks for God’s help. “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers,” said Phillips Brooks. “Pray for powers equal to your tasks.” One mark of true spiritual leaders is their honest acknowledgment of their own inadequacy and their humble trust in the power of God.
3. He had vision and saw the greatness of the work
No matter what God has called you to do, it’s a great work because it’s part of the building of His church; and that’s the greatest work in the world. If you lose the greatness of a vision, you will begin to cut corners in your work, stop making sacrifices, and start looking for something else to challenge you. Nehemiah realized that what he was doing was far bigger than simply repairing gates and rebuilding walls. He was serving the Lord God of heaven and getting the holy city ready for the coming of the Messiah!
4. He submitted to authority
The call of God is not an invitation to become independent and ignore authority. Nehemiah respected the king and submitted his plans to him for his approval before he went to Jerusalem. Even more, Nehemiah submitted to the authority of the Word of God. He invited Ezra to teach the Law to the people so that they too would obey the will of God. It is a basic rule of life that those who exercise authority must themselves be under authority. Nehemiah was a man who was dependable because he was accountable.
5. He was organized in his work
He planned his work and worked his plan, and God blessed him.
6. He was able to discern the tactics of the enemy
7. He worked hard
This is what Charles Spurgeon said to the ministerial students at his Pastors’ College in London: “Do not be afraid of hard work for Christ; a terrible reckoning awaits those who have an easy time in the ministry, but a great reward is in reserve for those who endure all things for the elect’s sake. You will not regret your poverty when Christ cometh and calleth His own servants to Him. It will be a sweet thing to have died at your post, not turning aside for wealth, or running from Dan to Beersheba to obtain a better salary, but stopping where your Lord bade you hold the fort” (An All Round Ministry, p. 197).
8. He lived an exemplary life
You have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. It is when people start to lead a double life that they get into trouble, for nobody can serve two masters. Hypocrisy leads to further deception, until the deceivers get caught in their own traps.
9. He sought to glorify God alone
I fear that the church today suffers from having too many celebrities and not enough servants. The praise too often goes to the workers and not to the Lord. Particularly at some religious conventions, there is so much praise given to men that the Lord is left out of the picture completely.
10. He had courage
There is no place for timidity in leadership. Once you know what God wants you to do, you must have the courage to step out and do it. You must be willing to take some risks and occasionally make some mistakes. You must be able to take criticism, be misunderstood, and even be slandered, without giving up.
11. He enlisted others to work
True leaders don’t try to do everything themselves. They not only enlist others, but they also create the kind of climate that enables others to become leaders as well. Real leaders aren’t afraid to surround themselves with people who can do some things better than they can. Leaders don’t feel intimidated by the excellence of others; in fact, they encourage it. Their job is to challenge others to do their best and help get the job done.
12. He was determined
Nehemiah was determined because the work he was doing was a great work and he was serving a great God. He was determined because the city was in great reproach, and he wanted it to bring great glory to God. He was determined because he was part of a great plan that God had for the world as He worked through the Jewish nation.
So, the next time you feel like quitting, remember Nehemiah and stay on the job until the work is finished to the glory of God.
Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Determined (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), 148–159.