Nehemiah: Becoming a Godly Leader: A Word on Leadership
A Word on Leadership
See now, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, is about to take from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support: all supplies of food and all supplies of water, the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder, the captain of fifty and man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter. I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them. People will oppress each other— man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable. A man will seize one of his brothers at his father's home, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!” But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.”
In this text, God is about to judge the nation of Israel for their unfaithfulness to him, and one of the ways he judges this nation is by removing its leaders. It says, “The Lord Almighty is about to take from Jerusalem… the hero and warrior, the judge and prophet, the soothsayer and elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor, skilled craftsman and clever enchanter.” One of the implications we can take from this passage is that leadership is a gift from the Lord. When Israel needed a godly leader, God gave them prophets, judges, and kings. He gave them Samuel, David, Elijah, Isaiah, etc., to bless the people and lead them into righteousness. However, when a community or a nation is in rebellion towards God, God often removes their leadership or gives them unsuitable leadership (v. 4).
It is no surprise that when we look at many of our national and local elections, we often find ourselves not voting for a person we want but voting for the lesser of evils. The world is in a leadership crisis, and the answer is not more training or more education. The answer is God. God is the ultimate leader and the reproducer of leaders. In fact, Scripture declares that there is no authority but that which comes from God (Romans 13:1). Leadership comes from the Lord and godly leadership is a gift from him.
Therefore, if we are going to fix the leadership crisis in our churches, our schools, our homes, and our nations, we must start with God. He is the giver of authority and leadership, and he is the one who takes them away. Therefore, the primary way that we can learn about leadership and, specifically, how to become a godly leader is by studying God’s Word. Second Timothy 3:17 says that the Word of God is useful for equipping the man of God for all righteousness. Leadership is a righteous act that Scripture is more than suitable to equip us for.
And, possibly the greatest book in the Bible that we can learn about leadership from is the book of Nehemiah. When somebody wants to learn about worship, they go to the Psalms. When somebody wants to learn about wisdom, they go to Proverbs. But where should a person go to learn about leadership? Most would say that we should go to the book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king of Persia, persuaded the king to support the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem (Neh 2:5) and motivated Israel to rebuild ruins that had been abandoned for more than 140 years (586 BC-445 BC). He led the rebuilding project while under the constant threat of attack by Israel’s antagonistic neighbors. He completed the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem within only fifty-two days. If this were not enough, Nehemiah demonstrated great humility and wisdom as he enabled Ezra and the Levites to help bring spiritual revival to the nation of Israel. The book of Nehemiah is a tremendous narrative on godly leadership. Let us drink deeply from it, and may God use us to be the answer to this leadership crisis in our communities and ultimately in our world today.
May God richly bless your study.
A Word from the Author:
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[i] Guzik, D. (n.d.). Nehemiah Overview - David Guzik Commentary on the Bible. Retrieved January 11, 2015, from http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/view.cgi?bk=15&ch=1