Wednesday, July 22 2009
The 13th chapter of Nehemiah reveals some important leadership qualities of Nehemiah. Often times, a leader must make decisions that are right, but unpopular. Truthfully, I believe that is the mark of a true leader. If you can withstand the immediate negative reaction to a decision with the understanding that the results will benefit your organization in the long term then you have unique leadership abilities. Leadership is not abut popularity (although everyone has a desire to be liked), it is truly about moving a group of people forward in a positive and structured manner. You must assume that some of your decisions will not be well liked or comprehended by your followers, but they are often through a smaller "picture" then the leader.
Nehemiah understood the importance of rooting out those that would work against the greater good of the people he was leading. In those days, there were heathens in the city. Nehemiah had to return to Babylon, but upon his return he found one living in the temple. Nehemiah wrote the following...
7 And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
8 And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
The Bible does not say what Nehemiah looked like nor how big he was, but we know that he was a leader and had the respect of the people. He was able to accomplish what no one else had been able to do. Leadership is not about treating subordinates poorly or ruling with an iron fist. It is about relationships. Nehemiah's relationship with the Jews in Jerusalem allowed him to achieve greatness and it is very obvious that he was respected.
Nehemiah 13 records Nehemiah restoring the care of the ministry...
10 And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
11 Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
12 Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
Nehemiah enforces the law by stopping work on the Sabbath...
15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
...and he opposed marriage to the heathens...
23 In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
24 And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people.
25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
Nehemiah enforced some tough laws while never compromising the Word of God. It is essential that as Christian leaders that the Word is preached without compromise. Nehemiah could have allowed the heathens to stay, but in the end the heathen nation would have changed God's people. As Christians, we do not refuse people coming in our doors, but it is important not to allow them to change the message. God's word is truth and it is settled in heaven despite our little revelations. Simply, a leader takes a stand on the Word of God and Nehemiah is our example.