Where does leadership begin?


When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
(Nehemiah 1:4 NASB)
“O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man.”
(Nehemiah 1:11 NASB)



The book of Nehemiah has great lessons for leadership and Nehemiah himself becomes an example of the type of leadership that God desires. Right here in the opening chapter of the book we find Nehemiah hearing news of the situation in Jerusalem. He is overwhelmed with the condition of his homeland. A burden is placed on his heart and he cannot get away from the sense that God is asking him to respond to the situation. He literally goes into a state of depression as he grieves over what has happened in his homeland. For days he mourns and weeps, but not only does he grieve, but he also cries out to God. He does not simply wallow in the depth of his emotion but he fasts and cries out to God. He realizes that God alone can help him in these circumstances for the who in their right mind could think that they could bring about the reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem. While praying Nehemiah becomes acutely aware of God's plan and then he begins to pray into God's plan for success. This is not a human plan, but very distinctly he recognizes God's desire and he doesn't pray for the whole plan, but just for the next step. He is going to have to broach the subject of helping Jerusalem with his boss. How will this go over? He doesn't know but he has to ask God to pave the way and for his boss to have compassion on him. This is the first step in the completion of God's plan.



There are times when I feel that God speaks to me and genuinely gives me a plan for what he wants me to do, but I'm also a rather impatient type and I love to see the whole plan laid out before me -- from start to finish! I'd love to know the end game from the very beginning. I am also more of a 'doer,' than a 'be-er.' I don't know if that makes sense but I tend to feel like I'm getting in there and doing what God wants me to do when I am busy doing things. The problem is that this can get me into trouble because I may take off and "do" things without learning what God really wants me to do.

The leadership principles we learn from Nehemiah are:

1) Great leaders take time to pray! It is in praying that we become more of a 'be-er.' We are in a state of 'be-ing' or certainly of being transformed. We recognize our weaknesses and we place them before God and learn to trust in him for guidance and direction. As we read through the word of God we discover that every great leader took time to go off by themselves and pray. They also fasted and prayed. In other words, they took prayer very seriously and realized that without the leadership of God in their lives they could do nothing! In our fast-paced world taking time to pray may be viewed as a waste of time. How in the world do we measure prayer? We don't -- because it's not about 'doing' but about 'be-ing.' Nehemiah spent an extended period of time in God's presence before he ever took action. We, too, must learn to spend extended periods of time in God's holy presence before we jump into the business to which God has called us.

2) Great leaders take things one step at a time. While God may have given Nehemiah a vision to complete the reconstruction of the walls, Nehemiah also realized that there was a way to get there. He would never be able to complete the reconstruction without the approval of his boss. Therefore he didn't spend time praying for the walls to be rebuilt, but he prayed that God would speak to his boss and that his boss would be compassionate with him. This was the immediate need! There are times when we go to God in prayer and instead of being sensitive to what we need to do in little chunks, we pray for the whole big picture. There is a place for praying for the big picture, but there is a need to also depend on God's leadership in the little steps that need to be taken to get to the big picture. Great leaders understand and follow God's leadership of the little steps which must be taken to get to the big picture. Those who only focus on the big picture tend to get frustrated when it doesn't come to fruition -- but that's because they've not been willing to focus on the little things that are needed to get them to that point. Sometimes the little things seem insignificant in the big picture -- but are they? No, a great leader understands the little things and is willing to invest time, energy and prayer in the little things that become the building blocks to the big picture.

Prayer and God's guidance in the little steps -- that's where we need to begin! Neither of those two probably sound very "successful" in the world's eyes, but serving in the kingdom is not about being "successful" by human standards, and kingdom leadership begins by understanding this, and knowing that the principles which are followed are not necessarily of this world.



Lord, I want to listen and be obedient today in the little things. Amen.


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